Tips for incoming college students

The class of 2015 will soon be off to college. Consider these tips for a positive experience.

Life is all about transitions. A young adult heading to college is one of the largest. Decades have passed since my parents loaded up the old station wagon and off I went to a state college. Shortly, we are taking our class of 2015 graduate off to a state college. While there isn’t a station wagon, there will be an over-packed vehicle of life essentials.

Think about the difference three decades ago when we went off to college with a type writer, white out, Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus, a few clothes and toiletries and, maybe if you were lucky, a small, black and white television. Today, graduates are off with a computer, microwave, smart phone, HDTV, Bluetooth accessories, toiletries and so much more. While the vehicle contents are different, one thing hasn’t changed: the anticipation and excitement of a new adventure!

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development offers a wide range of programs which are considered MSU pre-college programs that prepare students for higher education. Experiences on a university or college campus are instrumental in helping middle or high school students visualize their post-secondary roadmap.

To the class of 2015

Explore and join in! Did you know there are over 700 approved student organizations at MSU? If you always wanted to play Quidditch, explore organic gardening or join the basketball or football spirit zones, this is your chance! Consider joining a club that focuses on your collegiate major too. This will provide connections for networking, professional development and internships.

Changing your major? It is OK and highly likely. Even though at your open house you told everyone you wanted to be a constitutional attorney, it is OK now to say after a semester or two that you are going to be a high school civics teacher. Research indicates that 70 percent of students change their major prior to graduation.

Remember, typically Wikipedia isn’t considered a scholarly citation. However, websites like  Google Scholar can be helpful. You think your professor won’t know that you cut and pasted from a web source? Consider that again. Universities have extensive software programs to scan for academic fraud. Utilize the resources of your campus library, writing centers and staff to enhance your skills. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. They are eager to help you be successful.

Discover how to work through roommate and other differences. Life skills that you are building include conflict resolution, communication, problem solving, respect and responsibility. Watch your spending – all those credit card offers are tempting, but they come with a cost.

The fourth “H” in 4-H is health. Exercise, keep a schedule, stay on top of classwork, sleep, don’t over-caffeinate and feast on fresh vegetables and fruit to avoid weight gain.

College students will soon be settled into their dorm or apartment and parents will be heading home in their now under-packed vehicles. And remember, parents, that more than likely your college student or graduate will boomerang home

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