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Welcome…Now Don’t Mess Up — 5 Tips For Incoming College Freshmen [JACK'S WORDS OF WISDOM]

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High school was either a breeze or absolute hell. Regardless of the way those four years went for you, college is a brand-new start. Many students go away for college, while others have the convenience of six colleges right in town (I see you, Buffalo), but even if you stay local, you’ll find new opportunities.

If you find yourself in a rut or confused about how to approach your first year of college, never fear! Here are some tips from someone who’s been there, done that.

1. Be Yourself. It sounds like a really cliche piece of advice, but it’s wholeheartedly the most important piece of advice you’ll need as a college student. You’re entering a situation that is completely new to you, even if you live locally. You’ll be exposed to (hopefully) different kinds of people, a new campus, a new city and a general shift in activity from high school. Your freshman year is a 9-10-month first impression, so be sure to show people who YOU are, not who you think people want you to be.

2. Ask Questions. Don’t be the freshman who ends up walking into the wrong classroom. Don’t be the freshman who uses ignorance as an excuse for everything. College is an amazing learning experience, and since Kindergarten, your teachers have told you that the only way to learn is by asking questions. If you don’t know where something is, ask somebody, or at least Google it. Use forums on sites like Reddit or Facebook to curb the awkwardness of asking someone where you can go to poop in peace (it’ll happen). The best part about asking questions is being able to spark up conversation with someone new and immediately being able to converse about something. Fellas, this is a great way to get a girl’s number at the library printout station. Ladies, this is a great way to figure out if he’s as dumb as he is cute! (Just kidding.)

3. Get Uncomfortable. You’ll hear a million times about how new college is, which inevitably will bring about some situations you might not be comfortable with. Don’t be the introverted freshman who doesn’t want to experience anything new, especially if you went away to college. I’m not saying go out and do something dangerous, but sometimes, just getting out of your dorm room and sitting in the lounge with the floormates you haven’t yet gotten to know is enough to spark some awesome friendships. Uncomfortable situations will eventually become learning experiences, and in the same way others will show you new things, be prepared to be the window to a new world for others.

4. Be Resilient. College is fun, but college is hard. For some, the increased workload is a problem, and for others, being homesick is what kills them. Remember that these four years are what you make of them, and while problems exist, none are problems that haven’t been conquered. If the workload is too much, organize and work on your time management. If you’re homesick, find distractions to keep those feelings at bay. They say that you’ll find your best friends in college, and while that’s true, you’ll also go through the drama of weeding out those who won’t be so loyal. Just like high school, these problems all seem impossible when confronting them, but you’ll walk away from them stronger, smarter and with tougher skin. It’s a win as long as you make it that way.

5. Be Active. The Freshman 15 is NOT a myth. The freedom of being able to eat what you want, when you want, how you want and however much you want is a blessing and a curse. Most colleges have free gym facilities for those of you worried about the Freshman 15. For those of you who don’t enjoy indoor activities, take a walk or run around campus; it’s a great way to get to know where your classes are while staying fit. If physical activity isn’t for you, get involved on campus to keep yourself busy and away from those radioactive Taco Tuesdays. You’ll meet new people and hone an interest in something you love, and it also looks great on your resume if you’re involved enough.

Have a silly or embarrassing story, or some good advice, you want to share with readers? Email your stories to angela.stefano@townsquaremedia.com, and you could be featured in Jack’s Words of Wisdom!

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