Human Interest

TP’s Guide to a Fresh College Experience

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It’s a natural reaction to be nervous or even scared about the idea of going off to college. First time living on your own, taking care of yourself, and not to mention it’s the last step to take before being hit by the real world. So I get it, do not think you’re weak or unprepared for having these feelings, the majority usually do. Some kids know that they’re ready and can’t wait another second to leave, and others are so afraid, that they do not even attempt their first year. It upsets me when I hear the latter, but in either case, both are unsure about the basic necessities that are needed to maximize their college experience. I hate to say it, but summer vacation is running up quick, and back to school shopping at your nearest Target or Walmart is right around the corner! Me? I’ve been in college for four years, and have one more year of basketball eligibility left. I traveled 500 miles away from my family to attend a relatively big school, in Eastern Michigan University, where I lived on my own for three years. I’ve also spent a year, 30 miles away from home, where I attended a smaller, private school. In my four years, I’ve served as a varsity collegiate athlete and have managed to make nothing less than a 3.2 GPA. So what I’m saying here, people, is that I’m pretty much a bonafide veteran in the world of college! With that being said, I aim to help those in need of some guidance on how to prepare for college, how to excel in the classroom, and how to have a great time in the process. So sit back, relax, and enjoy, while I take you through TP’s Guide to a Fresh College Experience!

 

I’m going to break this all down into two parts: how to prepare for college, and what to do while you’re at your college. If you’re a parent reading this, which I figure the majority are, please share this with your kids or kids close to you, because I am sure that they will find it helpful! If you’re older and are thinking about going back to get your degree, then still, this will be helpful. Plain and simple, if you’re new to the college experience, then press on! Whether your 18 years old or 50, let’s get started.

college students

 

Preparation

Obviously, the first thing one has to do before preparing for college is to actually pick the college they want to attend. Being a student at both a D1 school and an NAIA school, I have to be honest in that the D1 school is a lot more fun. Bigger, more students, more things on campus that are at the student’s disposal, more rooms and apartments, etc. However, when picking a college, it is truly a personal preference. You could pick a school close by, that you could commute to (which to me is not as fun but sometimes you have no choice); or you can do as I did, and start over in a completely new environment with completely new people, far away from home (which is a great experience). You could go with the big school or small school, it’s up to you, they’re both fun, but I would recommend the bigger school. Once you pick your school, get online, and register for classes, ASAP. Get it done and out of the way! I’d recommend that you stay away from 8am classes. They get very annoying, especially when you will probably be up past midnight almost every night. 9:30am-3pm should be your window of what classes to choose from. Also, try to avoid getting three classes, back to back to back. It’s nice to have at least an hour before class to get a snack, go over what you just learned and/or prepare for your next class. Two classes, back to back, aren’t so bad though. You do, still, want to get them over with, so you can go to work or just enjoy the rest of your day! Oh yeah, time to pick your major, right? Well, not necessarily. Your first couple of semesters will be filled with general education classes (math, speech, theater, etc), so having a major decided in your first semester isn’t a huge deal, so don’t stress out about that. I chose a business major (marketing), because it is one of the broader majors I could think of with a lot of routes that can take out of it. The classes can get a little difficult when getting to 400 level courses (you will most likely start at 100-200 levels), but they’re still ace-able.

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Now, once you register and are all set to move in and start classes, I recommend getting your school supplies early. No, do not get things to decorate your dorm room with just yet, you can do that anytime. The worst thing to be in your freshman year, is unprepared. Your professor will send you an email a few weeks before the start of class to let you know what you’ll need, however, just find out what textbook you need and continue on with your day. These are the only supplies you’ll need to bring to your classes:

  • Notebook/Binder full of lined paper
  • Pencil and Pen
  • Folder’s for each class
  • Calculator (when taking math classes)
  • Textbook

In terms of textbooks, always rent, DO NOT BUY! You will not be using these books as much as you think. Some classes use them heavily, some you never need to open; ask your professor about that on syllabus day (first day of class). If you buy the textbooks, look on Amazon, do not go to your school’s bookstore, they will over charge you.

Once you’re all set with school supplies, now you’re ready to see about your room. Let’s assume I’m speaking to the average dorm dweller that will be stuck in a small box, with two twin beds, two desks, chairs, dressers, and one shared bathroom. Some of you may get lucky and land an apartment style dorm with a kitchen and all… if you do, do not take that kitchen for granted, learn to cook! In any case, let’s talk about what you’ll need. I advise you get your school supplies first, because those are the small things you can put in your backpack and forget about until day one of class. You ideally do not want to get things for your dorm room until you’ve been inside it and seen the room you have for your own eyes. Especially when having a roommate, the last thing you’ll want to do is bring all of your things in and pack the room. This will make it very difficult for you and your new roomie to move things around how you want them. So once you completely outline your furniture, then bring your clothes, rugs, lamps, etc. in. These are some of the appliances I advise you to have in your room:

  • Microwave
  • Refrigerator
  • A Fan
  • TV/Laptop
  • Well-lit lamp.

Microwaves just always come in handy, however if there’s one in the lobby, I suppose you can get away with not having one in your dorm. A mini fridge is a necessity; you can keep it stocked with your own drinks, good snack food for in-between classes, and leftovers from a restaurant or family meal. Every room needs a fan, because those rooms get very, very stuffy. Especially when you first start classes and it is hot outside. Your own TV or laptop is nice to have for movies, Netflix, etc. That’s more of a personal preference, some are fine with watching TV in the lounge or just reading a book. However, video gamers will be in peril without their own television. Then, last but not least, the room lights are not very great, and the light switch is by the door, far away from your bed. So go ahead and get one of those tall 5-headed lamps from Target, and keep it close to you so you can turn it on and off before you go to sleep or when you wake up. Here’s the common complaint that most students have about their room: privacy is quite limited. However, I have the solution for you. Luckily, I had my genius of a mother with me to help create my own small, cozy man cave within my small box of a dorm room. What I did was boosted my bed with pegs, then had a large blanket that hung over my bed to the floor, hiding everything underneath my bed. Hiding underneath my bed was my fridge, TV, video games, small drawers with snacks, and a comfortable cushion for me to sit on. I’m a big movie guy, so what made it even more helpful is when I watched movies on my Playstation, I had bluetooth stereo headphones so that I could only hear my TV. Not only is this great for your movie experience, but it completely eradicates the chances of your roommate to ask you to “keep it down please, because I’m trying to go to sleep.” You can watch what you want to watch, listen to it as loud as you want, and at as late as you want, because you will be covered comfortably under your bed, not making a sound.

 

While in College

Okay, we’ve picked our school and classes, have our supplies, and are cozied up in our dorm room. Now let’s enjoy college! Whether you’re a student-athlete or a student focused on your studies (probably working as well), you have to learn to be a great time manager to maximize your college experience. Time management has been the key to my success in college. Yes, you do need to study; yes, you do have to do your homework; and yes, some of the time frames on your assignments will be very tight. To balance that with your job, sport, and not to mention your other classes, takes practice and patience. The best way to do this is to schedule your days. Once you go through your school routine for a couple weeks and start to get the hang of things, it’ll be easy to do this. You’ll have set practice times and job hours that you’ll be able to organize around. What I usually do, is take about five minutes every night to schedule my day ahead of me. I list out all of my homework assignments or tests due in the next week, and prioritize them by value (big papers, projects, small assignments, etc.). Once I have them prioritized from most important to least, I place them in open time frames in my day. When I wake up I’ll eat and study; before basketball practice I will knock out an assignment; then afterwards I will study again for 30 minutes. Each night I do the same thing to clear my work schedule by the weekend, because let’s be realistic, who works on the weekend? I know I don’t; it’s actually a rule of mine. Use your weekend’s to recharge your batteries and get ready for another long week. Saturday’s and Sunday’s are rest days for me. Maybe I’ll study a little more on Sunday to refresh, but it’s only for 30 minutes, and only if the class absolutely calls for it. Also, I should add some studying tips. When I say I study for 30 minutes, I mean 30 hard minutes straight, without my phone beside me or my TV on. Don’t study for two hours, you’ll burn yourself out and mix up the information that you’re trying to retain! 30 minutes a day for one subject is all you need!

 

Alright, that was the boring stuff. No one likes to do work, but hey, we want that degree so it has to be done! Let’s talk about how fun college can be for you. Here’s my biggest piece of advice: get out of your comfort zone! Get involved with the school, go to events and show your school spirit! You’ll be there for four quick years so leave your mark. You’ll meet new people, create long-lasting friendships, as well as memories that you can hold with you forever. It’s easier said than done, I know, it’s called a comfort zone for a reason. If you break out of it once, though, then you’ll do it again much quicker! Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.

 

People, I could create a book of things to tell you about what you will experience in college and how to go about experiencing them, but that’s not for me to tell you. This is a journey that you have to take head-on, on your own. At the end of the day, just have the most fun that you can have, while being a productive student. Yes, you’ll have a lot of stressful times, but I promise that the good times will far outweigh them. Good luck you guys! There’s a famous Perry motto that we live by everyday that I want to give to you, and I want you to use whenever you feel overwhelmed: Keep on keepin on!

Hey there, my name is Trenton Perry! I’m a Detroit born, Tennessee raised, Christian-Catholic, twenty-two year old college basketball player for Cumberland University, in Lebanon, TN. I’m a Marketing major, and spent my first three years of college playing for Eastern Michigan University before transferring back to Tennessee to finish my collegiate career in my fifth year (currently in my fourth year). I love sports, laughter, doing things with my family, and dream to pursue a career in Coaching, Writing, or Sports Broadcasting after my time as a basketball player has concluded. I live to entertain and inspire myself, and those around me, on a day to day basis.
I hope you enjoy!

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