How to survive your first month in college
When you’re fresh from high school, it is but natural to be apprehensive on the first day of college. We tell you how you can get through those first few days...
The first day is almost here.
The institution where you’re going to spend the next few years has been finalised and you are set to step into college life.
Things to remember
You may need certain things like bags and stationery before your college starts.
Besides, shopping has this wonderful ability to soothe nerves in some people.
Avoid late nights the day before college starts. You don’t want to be late on the first day itself.
Also, figure out well in advance how you’re going to commute to your college.
College is the next big step in your life after school. And much like school, you’ll be nervous on the first day and inconsolable on the last.
Just remember that everyone around you will be in the same boat.
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Image: All images for representational purposes only
Photographs: Courtesy IIM Shillong for Careers360
Week One: Entering the college
Now that you’ve settled the first major question ‘which college?’ here comes the next big one, ‘what in college?’
Don’t fret over how the first day will shape up, it usually ends before you’ve time to think over it.
The orientation: Expect some lengthy lectures from the principal and the professors on how to behave in college right from day one.
Familiarise yourself with the campus. Getting lost in the campus while searching for classrooms is perfectly fine on the first day.
Ensure that you get done with the requisite paperwork on campus for stuff like ID cards, library cards, travel passes and so on.
Make sure that you take the initiative in starting conversations with your classmates. That way, college becomes a lot friendlier right from the first week.
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
Week Two: Blending in
You may be missing your old gang of friends, but before you realise it, you will become part of a new one in college.
This part can be tricky as the group you pick will have a significant impact on your college experience.
Unlike your neighbourhood and school, you will get to see a more different and varied group of people in college.
Be open to them and resist the temptation to judge them. You don’t need to become best buddies with everyone you meet, but being friendly helps.
Seniors are the ones you should keep in touch with.
All the important information that cannot be imparted in the class (advice on dealing with professors, which rules you can work around and which ones need to be taken seriously, exam and assignment tips, etc) can be gleaned from seniors.
You may have thoughts of needing to dress differently for college.
Nothing on the lines of the latest diktats from Lakme Fashion Week is required.
Find a comfortable style for yourself and flaunt it in college.
You don’t need to conform to anything and everything that your peers do.
Hold your ground on the things that you’re not comfortable with.
Photographs: Courtesy Careers360
Week Three: Bunk like a pro? NO!
The revered art of bunking would definitely need a special mention here.
Since time immemorial, it has been a great tradition for students to skip lectures to loiter in and around the college campus.
However, it's not always as good a joyride as it seems.
Bunking just for the heck of it doesn’t make sense.
Some colleges do take the 75 per cent compulsory attendance rule seriously.
It is important for you to be familiarised with teachers, exam schedules and so on.
In order to do that, you will have to stick around in the classroom once in a while.
Finally, being absent from the class for long durations can leave you gobsmacked on the eve of the exams.
Make sure you have back-up plans to counter this eventuality.
You need to attend important lectures, internal tests and adhere to assignment submission dates.
Don't skip these bare essentials just for the sake of bunking.
Photographs: Courtesy Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication
Week Four: Interact with professors
The power that professors have to alter the course of your college life is almost magical.
Most students would readily agree that, like Professor Charles “X” Xavier in the X-Men films, your professors can either be your closest allies who will vouch for you when you need the help, or your harshest critic to help you get the most out of your life in college.
Either way, chances are that by the time you are done with college, you will jovially look back at the time spent with them in a positive light, so it’s best to start off on the right foot.
Don’t go around licking their boots just to become the teacher’s pet, but don’t commit the mistake of getting on their wrong side either since it can be fatal to your college life.
Behaving rudely or insolently with your professors can become your Achilles’ heel, especially during the time of internals and journal and assignment submissions.
Some professors tend to be very friendly with students and can help you in your career. Be sure to spot them and maintain good relations with them.
When it comes to your Head of Department, who has a major hold on the academic aspect of your college life, it’s always best to make sure you are noticed positively.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Survival tips from seniors
Don’t get nervous over being nervous!
Nervousness, excitement, a new environment and new people – the first few days of college rotates around these words.
On the very first day my professor asked for our introduction and then as I went on the podium I felt short of words to describe myself as nervousness ate half of the things I would have liked to share.
My suggestion is, just be yourself, be calm and enjoy the way things come and don’t rush when it comes to forming groups.
- Pradnya Surve, TYBMM
Don’t rush to fit in
Although I knew college would be fun I always pictured it as a harsh place where I won’t be able to fit in. But it turned out to be a whole new experience which I cherished a lot.
My suggestion to freshers is don’t try to fit into certain groups; don’t do things that you aren’t comfortable with.
There is no need to prove anything to anyone. Do things differently and be unique. Stand out, be different and you’ll be acknowledged. Don’t follow the crowd because people usually get lost in it.
- A V Shruti, SYBA
Be open to others
On the first day, every group (yes, even on the first day, there were groups!), was more than nice to me.
The first day for me was scary and kind of nerve-wrecking and still happy-shiny somehow. But isn’t it so for everyone?
As a fresher, all one can do is trust others and be open to everyone else for that’s how you soak in the college atmosphere in the starting few days. And that helps a lot.
- Shruti Sundaram SYBTech
Just shake as many hands as you can, because you never know who’s going to be that college buddy who helps you out with everything and you do the same for him/her – in short, your best friend.
You need to know that on your first day every single person in your class is a newcomer so everybody will be feeling the same way you do.
The first few days of your college are when you reach and leave home on time but once you’ve got friends you might leave home on time but you’ll never reach home on time.
The only tip for a newcomer would be – go with the flow!
- Sundaresh Sankrith, SYBSc
Seniors: Why you should be nice to them
Unlike the heydays of ragging, seniors in college today are, thankfully, a more civilised species.
Here’s why you’re going to need them:
Sincere students know the subject; the smart ones know the professor.
Get as much information about the faculty as you can. For attendance, assignments and examinations, you’ll need every bit of information you can get.
If you’re worried about anything, like misplacing an ID card or being in trouble in a subject, see what your seniors have to say. They usually know a way out of the situation as they might have been in it before.
If you’re too lazy to write notes, see if any of your seniors have preserved theirs.
Notes from your seniors are handy during exams.
You’re new to college and are all geared up to join some extracurricular groups.
Consult your seniors to know which ones will suit you best.
Photographs: Courtesy Careers360
Five movies to watch before college
Mona Lisa Smile
It's about a female art history professor in the 50s who inspires her female students to think of a life beyond marriage.
Good Will Hunting
Will Hunting is a young and impoverished genius who works as a janitor at the MIT.
This film is about a first year film student dissecting the role of The Godfather; he meets a businessman who puts him on gangster-like errands.
It's a loud and funny film on life in a college fraternity.
Watch this to find out more about an aspiring writer’s efforts to get into the Stanford University that keeps going awfully wrong.
Image: A still from the film Animal House
Hangout spots to scout in the first month
If you’re lucky enough, you’ ll have free WiFi within the campus itself. If not, see where else you can find one.
Look out for the numerous coffee shops dotting the college area. Other than being great spots to kill time, some places actually serve good coffee too.
If you are late for a lecture and can no longer attend, these shops really come to the rescue.
There is usually a cinema house in the vicinity of every college.
If not, go the extra mile to hunt for one.
Morning shows are a great steal as they usually come cheap and are a good way to while away your time.
Students require cheap food spots more than anything else since most of the day is spent around college and sooner or later eating becomes mandatory.
Finding the place with the cheapest prices is better done earlier than later.
Benches and Parks
You’ ll stumble upon these spots – parks, benches, shady trees and so on – around the campus.
Before you know it, one of it would have become the adda of your gang and you will be frequenting it more often than college itself.
Photographs: Courtesy Live on Campus, Shri Ram College of Commerce's Facebook page