In just a couple of months or less, members of the senior class of 2017 will be departing for college. Here are a few tips to ease the transition.

  •  First impressions still count. The old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” still holds true. That doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself, but it does mean that if you’re looking at college as an opportunity to reinvent yourself, don’t wait until the end of freshman year.
  • Be outgoing and meet as many people as you can. A lot of social connections are made during the first few weeks of school. Most students travel in herds and are open to meeting lots of people. Within a few weeks, students tend to find their initial friendship group, study buddies and cafeteria comrades. It is much easier to become part of a range of social groups at the beginning of the year than later on.
  • Stretch yourself. Consider joining a variety of clubs and extracurricular activities. Participate in campus-wide activities and intramurals, and step outside your norm. Experiment a little. If you’re an artist, try the Ultimate Frisbee team. If you’ve always been a jock, join the Save Darfur social action club.
  • Explore. Check out areas of the college that you never saw on the campus tour, such as the local art museum, the fitness facility, the student health center, etc.
  • Don’t wait until a crisis occurs to meet your adviser. Set up an appointment early on. Ask about recommended courses in your anticipated major, student services, internships, jobs on campus, research and summer opportunities, as well as study abroad programs.
  • Be smart. OK, so this is the one parents worry about the most. Getting used to the freedom can be tough. Respect your own independence and make good decisions. Don’t compare yourself to others, as in, “At least I read more than so-and-so.” Compare yourself to what you want to be: “Is this what I expect of myself?”
  • Be safe: Travel in groups, especially at night. Lock your bike — always. Lock your room and make sure to secure your valuables. Attend parties with friends and agree that no one gets left behind. Watch out for each other.
  • Strive for balance. Have fun, but don’t go crazy.
  • Take a deep breath. Things are unlikely to be perfect from the get-go, so give yourself some time to integrate and decide how you really want to spend your time. Try to figure out what will work for you and what will make you happy.
  • Maintain regular contact with your parents. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, don’t go it alone. Call your parents and ask for help or advice.
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