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1. Get connected with upperclassmen of color
Freshmen orientation may have made college seem like heaven on earth. But, the struggle bus will come right around to pick you up as soon as the free food, icebreakers, and activity fairs come to an end. There will be a time (or many times) where you will feel like the Mr. Krabs meme. You may look around and be the only student of color in your class. You might be the only one who catches the low-key racist comment a student boldly voices to the class. You’ll for sure want to know who on campus can slay your edges or clean up that fade. And when do all the black student organizations have meetings? That’s where the wiser upperclassmen students of color come to the rescue. These students have gone through the academic struggles as well as the culture-fit struggles. So, don’t be afraid to talk openly about your concerns, ask questions, and keep them in your network as you find your fit on campus.
2. Make time for self-care
College tends to romanticize the life of the #hustler. It may seem you’re only truly doing college “right” if you stay out all night, spend all your weekdays cramming in the library, turn up all weekend, and somehow manage to excel in class. Of course, we know that black students have to work twice as hard for half of what other students may be rewarded. But, our mental health cannot placed on the back burner. Make sure to take a few minutes each day alone each day to quiet your mind and check-in with yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you find you need to talk with someone, don’t be afraid to chat with someone you trust or look into your school’s counseling services.
3. Explore your surroundings
It’s easy to get caught up in the “college bubble.” But, make sure to explore your college town and learn about the communities there. Often, universities are located in communities of color. Yet, students are warned to stay on campus to avoid the more “dangerous” areas. Your safety is important. But, watch out for this coded language. It is important to reach out and merge relationships with the neighborhoods surrounding your campus. You are going to be there for four years after all.
4. Turn up at your own risk
Hello, freedom! College means no parents, annoying aunties, or uncles all up in your business. But, remember that you are there to learn, better yourself and ultimately get your degree. Should you celebrate from time to time? Yes. But cover your bases first. Before you go out for the turn up, make sure you fully understand your school’s policy, know your limits, and have a safe way back to your dorm after a long night out.Take the safe route and contact the campus safety services. Never walk back alone!
5. Keep in touch with friends back home
While you should do your best to meet new people at school, there is nothing like reminiscing with those that have known you from the jump. This is especially true when the stress of college starts to begin and campus life becomes more routine. Make sure to check in with your homies back home through a simple text, Snap, or even FaceTime session if you have the time. It helps when you need to vent, catch up, or want to share all the cool things you’re learning. It is a sure way to boost your mood and make you feel less homesick.
6. Plan your life out
In high school, you most likely had the same routine every day. Same hours. Same classes. Same teachers. In college, this schedule will be flipped on its head. Some days you’ll start class in the afternoon and some days you’ll be in lab at 8:30 in the morning. Or, maybe you’ll have office hours with a professor at 5pm. With these constantly shifting schedules, it is imperative that you buy an organizer and write down your game-plan for your week. It’ll make scheduling in studying, lunch with friends, campus parties, work-out sessions, and whatever else is thrown your way that much easier. Plus staying on top of your game is boss. Thank us later.
7. Master the “professional” email
During the college application process, you have to send your fair share of professional emails. But, learning the art of sending professional emails is a major key in college. You’ll get in the routine of sending these emails to professors, mentors, alumni, and new connections. A sure way to distinguish yourself from the typical freshman is to send a gracious and mature-sounding email. Start with these tips from Business Daily.
8. Try new things
College is amazing time to try a new activity, connect with a new crowd, and do something out of your norm. Before you know it you’ll be figuring out the things you love and what energizes you. Go towards that! Take it from us, some of the greatest lessons happen outside of the classroom. Open your mind, keep your values in mind, and stay woke.
9. Journal about your experiences
Before you know it, you’ll be halfway done with your freshman year. With everything going on, it will seem like your first semester flew by. But, it’s important to reflect on your personal growth. Make sure to jot down a few notes each week regarding your goals, accomplishments, failures, and moments you are grateful for.
10. Dust yourself off and try again
College can be a tough place. You will fail, get lost, and have your fair share of L’s handed to you. You will get a bad test grade with a number lower than you could have ever imagined. You will sleep through class once or twice. Rejection is real. You might get turned down from a student position, scholarship, or job opportunity you worked hard for. It happens. The most important thing is to avoid stressing yourself out with feelings of disappointment. Yes, it’s okay to take a day to feel bummed out. But, don’t let one “no” keep you from continuing towards your goals. Stay hungry, stay humble, and get back to work!
Freshman year will be one of the best experiences of your life!
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