Starting your college years off right is important. Everything is new and different, and there is so much to take in, there’s no way to avoid it, it’ll be overwhelming. But you can minimize the stress by following a few simple rules that apply as much at the end of your college career as they do in the beginning.

1. Strike a Balance

This one is not as easy as it may sound. People have a hard time balancing their lives before, during and after college. But this is an especially important tip for college students. You are trying to manage classes, homework, social life and extra-curriculars, not to mention parents and the whole living on your own thing. Take a deep breath! The key here is to know how you work. If you cannot get by without 8 hours of sleep every night, then you have to make sure you get those 8 hours, despite what everyone else is doing. If you try 18 credits a semester and realize you can only handle doing 15 then drop down. You will still graduate on time and the world will not end! You don’t need to impress anyone and you can only succeed by knowing your limits. Take your first semester slowly and start out with a manageable number of classes by mixing in some easy ones with the more challenging. Maybe you’re one of those people that will breeze through with no issues, but you won’t know until you test the waters.

2. Use All Available Resources

Many students try to figure out everything on their own and don’t realize how much is available to them until they have a problem. That is not the way to go! You are paying a lofty tuition bill every semester, and that is not just for classes and housing. Colleges and universities spend a large amount of money on career counselors, academic advisors, health services and everything in between, and all that is available to you from your first day on campus. Take advantage of all these resources. Ask questions, go to resume building workshops and talk to someone if you are feeling overwhelmed. There is every kind of support, for every kind of problem. If you don’t know where to start, the best place is your email! You may get dozens, even hundreds, of emails a day and it may seem crazy to wade through all of them, but there really is some good information here that can be helpful so at least skim them all.

3. Do What You Enjoy

In high school you were brainwashed into taking a pre-selected list of classes, to volunteer and to join many clubs, all so you could get that coveted acceptance letter! Well you’re in college now and the possibilities are endless. But don’t cram everything in just to plump up your resume. Do what you enjoy, take classes that are interesting to you, find the major that excites you. When you are excited about something you will learn more and your enthusiasm will show. This enthusiasm will give you a heads up when applying for a job later, plus doing what you love will make your life easier, happier, and all around better.

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