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College is an excellent time for any child to become an independent adult. They take risks and learn about what works for them without making huge mistakes. I divided this post into essential products that parents could get for their freshmen and a section where I am talking directly to the student. Please share this post with your incoming freshman so they can also understand the need for planning and preparing for their freshman year. Here are the essential products and college tips for freshman year to use while on campus.
Essential Products for College Success
1. An Alarm Clock with Daylight Savings Time and Battery Backup Features.
Yes, I know, we all have alarms on every device we own these days. But, having a separate alarm in their room near their bed works best to help eliminate the chance of forgetting it somewhere or disabling the alarm. The clocks below are from Amazon.com (affiliate).
2. A calendar that you can take everywhere with you.
It could be an electronic or paper agenda book. The trick is to write down EVERY SINGLE TASK you need to remember in your planner. This calendar includes meetings with people, appointments, dates for clubs, class assignments, work, and home schedules, and even scheduling for doing laundry. Having every task written down will keep their mind on the task at hand, and they will feel more in control of their college life. (affiliate from Order out of Chaos.)
Read THE REASONS I LOVE ORDER OUT OF CHAOS® ACADEMIC PLANNER for more information!
3. Buy Organizers for The Dorm Room.
It's important to keep the freshman dorm room organized. A little investment will keep your student organized for the next 4 years. And some things can be easily used in your home. Visit our other post about 8 Helpful Organizing Essentials For Dorm Life for more ideas.
Below are links for Amazon (affiliate). I will receive a commission if you decide to click through and purchase something from Amazon. There will be no additional charge to you.
4. Digital Notebook and/or A Good Laptop.
Having the Microsoft Office Suite, including OneNote, Excel, Word, and other software, will help keep track of notes and assignment work. Some colleges will give it to students for free.
A digital notebook, like an iPad Pro, is also a great option to take notes and organize them easily. Create a good retrieval process and the best note-taking method so they can easily access the documents they need in the fastest possible way.
Having a backup system that stores notes and files in the cloud will allow your child to access their files from any device they have, their laptop, tablet, or phone. Make folders on their computer for each of your classes. Store them on the desktop so they can easily access the folders (and the items in them). Read this article from Forbes for more information and tips on finding the right laptop for your college student. Below are the ones I found on Amazon(affiliate).
5. Set up a student's personal bank account.
Setting up a personal bank account for your child so you can transfer funds into your child's bank account in case of emergencies will make those "I need money calls" quick and painless for both parties.
You can also do a Venmo account if they set it up with their bank account so they can transfer money to their friends when doing things together.
These essential items will help your college freshman stay organized and help them become a huge success. Assisting them in organizing their life at school will hopefully show them the importance of taking responsibility and ownership of what needs to be done.
College Tips For Freshman Year
Now, let's get to the college tips for success. This section is for your student to read. Feel free to share it with them.
1. Be kind to yourself.
You will find that you may struggle at times, whether with professors or students, or roommates. Be aware of what you have done, and if it is your fault, realize that you are only human. And, as humans, we do make mistakes. Figure out what you did that was upsetting and find a way to correct your action. No need to say, "I can't do this." or "You are not worthy of ...." or anything else.
"Love yourself as much as you want to be loved.”“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L Hay Read more: Essential Items and College Tips for Success Click To Tweet
2. Be comfortable being with you.
College can be especially stressful and a new experience for everyone. If you don't find your group of friends right away, that's OK. Spend time and learn more about yourself. Self-acceptance is super important when you are alone in a new place. It's a great opportunity to figure out who you are. What are your favorite things? How do you approach different obstacles? What makes you feel relaxed? What are you passionate about?
When you find the answers, look for places where people with minds like you hang out.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Sharon Salzberg“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”~ Siddhārtha Gautama Read more Essential Items and College Tips for Success Click To Tweet
3. Be conscious of your money.
One part of being a college student that teenagers and parents don't realize is that the student must manage their money responsibly. They need to know how much is in their meal plan account. It may not be unlimited. They also need to know how to manage their finances for extracurricular activities. So, being aware of your spending is key to a successful freshmen year and will teach money management.
Having a place to write down all your expenses, like Quicken's Simplifi app (affiliate), will allow you to really manage your finances. Simplifi is designed for mobile and is available to use on iOS, Android, and web platforms.
Also, getting a job on campus or nearby may be an option for you to make extra spending money. But make sure you wait until the second semester of your freshman year or later. This will allow you to get into good habits and understand the different college life you are experiencing.
4. Be prepared for your classes.
My daughter utilized the Rate My Professors website before signing up for classes throughout her undergraduate years. However, when you enter freshman year, you may not have looked at your professors, so check it out before your courses start. Find out how your professors teach, get background on your classwork by installing Canvas app on your phone, and save the website on your laptop.
Professors share their syllabi on these and may even assign work and other communication through this app. Getting the app before you start school is always a good idea. Your college will let you know if they use Canvas. Most use it.
5. Ask for help.
And the final college tip for freshman year is to ask for help. Professors are there to assist you. They are getting paid to teach. So, make sure you schedule office hours every week. Especially for your hardest classes. These courses don't have to be foreign to you. Just know they will help you where they can.
If you feel that you need special accommodations, follow up with your advisor and ask them about your needs. Then, follow up with your disability center and learn about what the process is.
Also, there are tutoring sessions you can schedule free of charge. It's part of the school tuition. Inquire with your advisor to get help finding the right source for you. Don't wait. The longer you wait, the harder it is to reverse the poor grade.
6. Learn about your registration website and what your student portal has before starting college.
Each school's registration process and timelines may be different. Reach out to the advisor to get questions answered. Explore the sign-in page and make note of the important areas. You may be able to tag the important sections you will need before school starts.
There are usually some things you need to do before you start your registration process. You should meet with your advisor to determine the course for your major and the courses that are required for graduation. They will help you determine what classes you will need to graduate, but it is good for you to keep a running list of courses you need to take so there are no questions.
7. Finish your financial aid forms completed before you start.
If you are getting federal financial aid, you will need to fill out a Master Promissory Note (MPN). You may need to fill this out each year. If you find that the school is not getting paid, go into your studentaid.gov account and check to see if this needs to be completed again. We had to for them to release the money to the school.
I hope these essential products and college tips for freshman year help get you started for an amazing college experience. Please leave a comment below with other questions you may have about having a successful year. I would love to hear from you.
Visit our other posts to help prepare your student for college.
Please note these are affiliate links through Amazon, and I will earn affiliate fees if you decide to make a purchase at no additional cost.