1. Organization is key. You don’t want to be rushing around at 8:05 in a futile attempt to find the textbook you need for your 8 a.m. class. Set some simple guidelines for yourself such as keeping to-do lists to help you stay organized.
2. In this day and age, we are all very familiar with social networking. But when it comes to college, it may behoove you to do some old fashioned face-to-face networking too. Not only can you find that invaluable classmate who will share their notes should you miss a class, but you may also find connections that will help and support you well into the future. Consider Santa Cruz Next (xxxxx.org)
3. Be cool. Many college students find themselves unduly stressed out what with the pressure of grades, money or new relationships. Take the time to breathe, stretch, walk on the beach or take that well-deserved nap—as the saying goes, “this too shall pass.”
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t feel like you have to “prove” anything to anyone. College is a new yet exciting experience and can be intimidating in many ways. If you find yourself lost or confused, consult a school counselor or a more experienced student for advice—after all, they were in your shoes once and will completely understand what you are going through.
5. Use all your resources. Many first time college students aren’t aware of the myriad resources that are on hand to help them through the transition from high school to college. Check out your school’s website or student handbook to discover the many benefits that are available free of charge or as a part of your tuition.
6. Keep in touch with your family. Sure they may drive you crazy and you may be thrilled to be away from their steely glances, but chances are that your family is your biggest fan. Be sure to call or email at least once a week to keep them posted on your new experiences and financial situation—you never know when you may need that extra $50 from mom.
7. Take care of your body. Don’t let the freshman 15 happen to you—walk, run or dance your way fit. Sure you are in a new environment, maybe away from home for the first time, but Santa Cruz has loads of stay-healthy options just waiting to be discovered. Surf, jog along West Cliff or participate in one of the hundreds of yoga classes to be found in Santa Cruz and you will be the exception to the rule.
8. Be goal oriented. Pull a Tarantino by thinking backwards from where you want to be. For example, you want to be a doctor? Imagine yourself in scrubs in 10 years—how did you get there? Chart your course on paper and then accomplish each task one at a time. They will add up eventually and you will be living your goal in no time.
9. Don’t neglect your spirituality. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs may be, call them all in. Every person, angel or deity you can have rooting for you at this time will make your college career that much smoother.
10. Reward yourself. Sure you are short on cash, but you just aced that midterm. Be sure to celebrate all of your victories by treating yourself to something special. Whether it be dinner and a movie downtown with friends, a massage or a day at the beach, indulging in a little R&R after your hard work will let your body rejuvenate and prepare itself for more hard work ahead.