With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen. After leaving high school where they knew everyone, they are now walking on to a campus where they will be lucky to know a single person in each class.
It's also an environment in which one small mistake can follow them for many years to come.
So, here are a few bits of advice to make your college experience a successful one.
1. Avoid getting a credit card or payday loan. The first day you step on campus, you will see a booth offering a you an easy opportunity to get your first credit card. They won't tell you the dangers of maxing it out on pizza and beer runs and how that will stain your credit forever. Emergencies happen and you are sometimes forced to borrow money off a credit card or from a pay day loan. But don't make it a habit. Loan sharks are more forgiving.
2. Maintain a college budget. According to USNews.com, keeping a record of all expenditures will force students to be accountable for extracurricular spending, including clothes shopping and nights out with friends.
3. Put yourself out there. The author of Huffingtonpost.com's 'The One Piece of Advice Every Incoming College Freshman Should Know' details how she became a hermit in her dorm room waiting for life to come to her instead of going out and finding it. "One of the most typical, cliché statements I heard before coming to college was that I would make so many new lifelong friends. While I made many friendly acquaintances my first few weeks of college, I struggled to find a group of friends -- or rather just one friend -- I truly clicked with. In lectures with 100+ people, I constantly met new people in my classes, but in an effort to not be labeled that overly friendly, clingy weirdo combined with my knack for being a bit shy, I waited for others to take the initiative. As a result, I admit there were many nights during the first month of college where I disappointingly sat in my dorm room waiting for my phone to light up with texts."
4. Go to class. Sounds simple, but many freshman get their first taste of freedom at college and don't know how to deal with it. Late night video game sessions or out of the blue road trips can easily turn into you missing days of classes. Unlike high school, professors don't really care if you come to class or not. They will not try to force you to show up. They will just flunk you, and you've now thrown away your tuition money.
5. Homesickness is not fatal. You will not die just because you don't attend your parents' Sunday afternoon family brunches. By going home every weekend, you never learn to live on your own and you will miss out on the joys of being a college student. After four years, you will have the same basic living skills of a 15-year-old and will be living in your parent's basement eating Doritos and Hot Pockets when you're 40.
6. Don't be afraid to use technology. Your smartphone is good for more than just Snapchat and Instagram. Download some useful apps for to-do lists and budgeting. Keeping a record of all expenditures will force students to be accountable for extracurricular spending, including clothes shopping and nights out with friends, according USNews.com.
7. Learn to cook. Eating fast-food every day is expensive and unhealthy. Learning to prepare your own meals will save you a ton a money that can be spent on actual fun activities. It will also give you something to trade in the college barter system. You will become a hot commodity among your dorm mates.
8. Control your alcohol intake. First, you don't have to drink. It's not a rule and don't feel you have to in order to fit in. However, many college students will be find themselves downing a few cans or bottles of some form of alcohol on the weekends or weekdays. But as Thomas Frank wrote on collegeinfogeek.com, "Don’t get drunk, but don’t miss the show when your friends do." Those are the memories that will stay with you forever.