A Freshman’s Guide to Starting College

After spending what felt like centuries in high school, you’ve finally graduated and are ready to begin the next chapter of your life. Well done, however, college is nothing like high school, so you must be prepared before it’s time for classes. Starting your freshman year is exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking. It’s common for new students to get cold feet when starting their first year. Getting beyond your pre-college anxiety is crucial to ensure success for your first year is a success. Here’s your guide to starting college as a freshman.

A Freshman's Guide to Starting College

Understand Your Goals

College may be the best way to acquire a rich education, but not having a purpose can make choosing a major and going through the whole thing feel pointless. Without anything to motivate you, it’s easy to become unmotivated. Before applying for the program, take some time to sit down and figure out what your goals are. Are you hoping to climb the corporate ladder quickly? Are you looking to obtain your dream career? Do you plan on retiring early? What opportunities does your speciality open for you? Knowing this information is vital to your overall success.

Research the Degrees

Although you have a set career field in mind, that’s not all there is to it. Take the law field, for example. Law isn’t just one entity; it’s made of many different sub-categories. Here’s a list of the types of law to give you an example of diversity:

  • Criminal
  • Business
  • Family
  • Health care
  • Intellectual property
  • Bankruptcy
  • Civil rights
  • Corporate
  • Environmental
  • Animal
  • Banking and Finance

Every other career has its own niche. To give you another example, the business world caters to all sorts of things ranging from cooking ware to pet supplies. Why is this important? It’s important because you need to tailor your degree to one of these niches, regardless of the career you have in mind.

Have Your Finances Under Control

No matter what degree you choose, you’re going to be spending quite a bit on it. In fact, now’s the best time to figure out your finances and strategize ways for managing them. Set a budget for yourself and stick to it. Write down what you earn each month and deduct each of your monthly expenses from it. This will give insight into how much you’ll be able to save. 

If you want to achieve a balance early on, your best bet is to utilize the 50/30/20 method. This is a simple, yet incredibly effective budgeting strategy people use to quickly get their finances under control. It works like this; you use 50 per cent of your income toward the necessities, like food, rent and bills. Then, you can use 30 per cent towards whatever you want to splurge on while the remaining 20 per cent goes directly into your savings. 

Additionally, you can also combine these two for an even 50/50. This is a great way to accumulate savings while staying on top of your monthly dues. The next step is to build financial security. Even if you’re not able to have much leftover each month, there is a way you can build financial security. One of the best ways is to take out your first credit card. Credit cards are external methods of receiving money, and a lot of it at that. 

However, you absolutely cannot go overboard with spending them. The more you spend, the more you must pay back. It’s not an infinite source of cash; it’s a responsibility that must be handled diligently. Not paying back what you owe makes you susceptible to high-interest rates and the lender lowering your credit limit. 

First, treat your credit card as an emergency fund. Speaking of which, you should also start building an emergency fund whenever you’re able. Ideally, you should have at least six months’ worth of expenses saved in case something dire happens. This can take a while, which is why we recommend you use 20 per cent of your budget towards this.

Socialize With Your Peers

While it’s tempting to solely focus on your work, you’ll only go to college for the first time once in your life. Now’s the perfect time to get out there and meet some like-minded people! Isolating yourself can be a severe detriment to your mental and emotional health. It can lead to college burnout faster if you don’t go out and socialize. The best way to go about this is to look for things that are up your alley. Use your passions to participate in clubs and events. You’re bound to find people who share the same interests as you.

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About the Author: Sam