Heading off to college for the first time is exciting – and a bit nerve wracking!  It marks the beginning of a new phase of your life as a more independent young person.  It provides you with the opportunity to make new friends, try new things and set you on track for a future career.  Those first weeks also come with a level of anxiety mixed with the excitement as a new student faces a lot of unknowns.  What will your roommates be like?  How hard will your classes be?  Will you be able to keep up?  This article will provide some basic guidance for your college life with 6 tips for new students.  Many of these are simple things you can do to get you started on the right foot, and help to balance studying, socializing and generally navigating the way through your first successful year.


Be friendly and be yourself.

Your college years provide you with a fresh start of first impressions.  You will be meeting a lot of new people – students, professors, campus administrators and other workers – along with people who live in the local community where  your campus is located. Over the course of the year and throughout your college years, you will get to know many of these people because you are seeing them on a regular basis.  Make a good first impression and be yourself.  Don’t judge, be kind and respectful and do your best to not compare yourself to others.  Embrace your differences and those of others.


Walk your class route. 

Being new on campus means that you need to become familiar with the physical layout of buildings, classrooms, dining halls and dorms.  Take some time to go through your daily schedule so that you know exactly where you need to be and how long it will take you to get there.  This simple thing will reduce stress for your first few days and you will be able to figure out if you have time in your schedule to stop for a snack or to chat with friends in between classes or if you have to be sure to hustle to get there in time.  


Try new things. 

Chances are, there will be a lot of different activities and clubs that are going to be available for you to participate in.  Look for things that interest you and give those a try!  Involvement in extra activities can be great for your resume and can help you to meet other students that have similar interests.


Keep an eye on your expenses.

As a new college student you will begin to practice managing your own budget for expenses and you will likely be living frugally to make sure you can get through the semester comfortably.
New students are often targeted with ads and solicitations for new credit card accounts. Although building your credit is important, it is likely better for you to arrange for a credit card through your own local bank.  Start small and keep it manageable.  For example, a credit card that caps at $500 should be more than enough for an emergency purchase, but won’t allow you to commit to something more expensive that you might have a hard time paying back quickly.


Attend all your classes.

Being newly independent and starting to make your own decisions is empowering.  One of those decisions you will make every day is whether to actually attend your classes.  Remember that you are paying for your education and part of that value is for your in-class experience – so make the most of it and be in class every day (unless you are sick) and pay attention.  Take your own notes, review them, participate in classroom discussions, do your homework assignments on time, and ask questions when you have them.   


Stay focused and take time for self care.

Although the college social aspect is important, don’t forget why you are there in the first place.  Keep your goals in mind throughout the year and stay focused on your school work.  Take breaks when you need them and schedule for a once a week day/time for a phone or video call to stay connected with your family back home.  Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy and if you find yourself getting stressed, try taking a hot shower to refresh.  


While these tips won’t solve all problems, they may provide some general guidance for things to keep in mind during this time of personal growth. There are exciting days ahead for new students and we wish all our local incoming Freshmen at SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College great success in their first year!  If you are considering living off campus during your college years, you can view available student housing options and 3D Virtual Tours at or call us at 607-434-5438.