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Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”-Henry David Thoreau

Heading to college is a nerve-racking, yet exhilarating time. The newfound freedom, the enchantment of learning new subjects, and the endless possibilities are just the beginning.

Going into my senior year, it’s hard to not look back and reflect on freshman year. At times it felt as though it would last forever, but it goes by in the blink of an eye, so enjoy every minute.

  1. Pack Wisely & Sparingly   

If you don’t think you’ll need it, don’t bring it. It’s challenging to move everything in, and chances are your dorm room won’t be as spacious as you’d expect. Follow your university recommendations, and read  Big Future Off-to-College Checklist.

     2. Preparation is the key to success

Check the syllabi for your classes in advance. Complete potential assignments before the first day. If possible pre-order your books so they arrive within the first week; check out Chegg and Amazon Prime for cheaper options that allows rentals and easy returns.

  1. The Walkthrough  

Familiarize yourself with the most important buildings on campus such as the library, the dining halls, and the health center. This makes the transition to a larger campus much easier and ensures your safety and productivity. Prior to the first class day, do a walkthrough to find your class buildings. Avoid that ‘wrong classroom awkwardness’ or being late on the first day.

  1. Go to office hours

Introduce yourself to your professors within the first week. Going to office hours is the best way to receive help when challenges arise. Professors are far more likely to lend a hand to students who have made the effort all semester long to improve grades.   

  1. Get involved

College is the time to discover what you truly like and want to focus on the next 4 years. Attend career and activity fairs. You don’t have to commit to a club or organization right away. Take your time!

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Sleep and exercise cure all. Your biggest challenges will stem from lack of sleep so get some good shut-eye (8 hrs.) Fight off the infamous “Freshman 15” by attending fitness classes and find healthy dining hall options. Consider a Fit Bit that tracks exercise and sleep. Stick to a schedule, set study time, do homework, eat, exercise, and kick back.

  1. Avoid Procrastination

Go to class! Unlike high school, you aren’t forced to attend by a parent. Grades are not given but earned. You never know when the Professor may drop a hint or give attendance points. It makes learning the material easier, boosting that coveted GPA. Send assignments in on time. Start early rather than late. Procrastination is the cause of gray hair and bad grades.

  1. Keep in contact with home

This is such an exciting time in your life, and also the lives of your parents. They worked dreamed and worked to get you to university. They deserve a phone call once in a while. Check in when you have the time, text or send a quick note.

  1. Enjoy yourself

Arguably, the most important because these 4 years fly by. You want to reflect after graduation and be content. The memories you made, people you met, and things you learned. So make it worth your time. Invest in yourself, your education, and the people around you.

Sharon Schweitzer and Shannan Bloomstrand co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is accredited in intercultural management, is the resident etiquette expert for CBS Austin, We Are Austin, popular on-air contributor, regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, The New York Times, The Vancouver Sun, and numerous other media. She is the best-selling, international award-winning author of Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, named to Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2015.

Shannan Bloomstrand is a Summer Intern with Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is a senior Language and International Health major with an emphasis in Community Development and a minor in Biology at Clemson University. Connect with Shannan on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @shannanbloom.