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Dr. Tam’s Top 10: Tips for Transitioning to College

August is the magical month of the year when all the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed rising college first-years make the trek to their respective campuses. It’s a time that causes much excitement as well as angst for students as they transition to independent, young adults near and far from home away from the close supervision of their parents and families. Although this college transition can be intimidating, it should also be fun and adventurous! Here are my top ten tips for students making their transition to college this month:

1)      Take only the essential items you can’t buy immediately once you arrive on campus. With today’s technology and Amazon Prime, you can have essentially anything you want delivered within a day (and sometimes on the same day), so don’t stress out about hauling non-essential items on move-in day. Save yourself the extra time and stress!

2)      Open a local bank account. The major banks are not always located in campus towns and the local credit unions usually have more favorable rates, terms, and conditions for college students.

3)      Create a realistic budget and stick to it. Don’t get enamored by the credit cards offered for a free pizza or t-shirt. Keep your eye on the prize of graduating with the least amount of debt possible.

4)      Visit the department of your chosen college/major. You’ll learn about the scholarships, leadership development and internship opportunities these departments have to offer. You may also find academic counselors there who can help you with your schedule and answer any questions you may have about your courses.

5)      Locate your campus library and tutoring center. Don’t wait until your first exam to realize you may need extra help in that math or science class. Work on your homework assignments at the tutoring center and the library to help you focus.

6)      Join a registered student organization related to your major/career path. Oftentimes, these organizations have test banks and study files for students to utilize.

7)      Find a study group or study buddy. Your peers will help shape your intellectual curiosity and hold you accountable in completing your work. No one wants to be the slacker in the group!

8)      Get to know your professors. Yes, that means saying hello to them before or after class and visiting them during office hours. You’ll need a letter of recommendation for that summer internship or leadership opportunity you want to pursue so don’t let the semester pass you by without forming a relationship with your professors. They’ll be excited to write those recommendations if they know you personally.

9)      Set goals for your first semester specifically and your freshmen year generally. Write them down and post them visibly in your designated study area. Seeing your goals daily will help you stay motivated to accomplish them.

10)   Have fun! These next years will be some of the best years of your life, so remember it’s not just about the destination of receiving your degree. Enjoy the journey along the way!

Every good wish,

Dr. Tam

P.S. Here’s another tip for honorable mention: Take advantage of the mental health resources your campus provides. The transition to college can be tough, so make sure you’re taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health!

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