7 College Tips to Get a Head Start

7 College Tips to Get a Head Start

By Rachel Gelabale

I consider myself to be quite familiar with college life now. I am currently a sophomore at Genesee Community College (GCC). Aside from that, I work part time at the college, and I am also a resident advisor. A resident advisor/assistant is a student who lives in the residence halls and helps support the academic success, social development, and personal growth of students by creating programs and experiences within a diverse community of learners that involve students, faculty, and staff. So, when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of college, I have learned some tricks and will share them with you. These tips are based on things I have experienced and witnessed.

1. Buying School Supplies? (Don’t go overboard!!)

While I know that shopping for school supplies can be fun, you should not buy a whole bunch of things right off the bat (or at the beginning of the semester). When it comes to getting your textbooks, I suggest you wait until you have attended the first class of each subject. Professors usually take the first day of class to talk about the syllabus and supplies that students would need to buy. The cheapest ways to obtain a textbook are by either renting it, buying a second-hand one, or checking to see if the school library has it.

2. Get to Know your Professor

I am not telling you to become Facebook friends with your professor, but I am telling you to show interest in the professor and the class that they will be teaching. Professors are there to help you, so the more interest you show in the subject, the more willing they will be to help you out. You can do this by attending their office hour. During that time, you can ask your professor questions about a topic that was covered in class or to explain something to you.

3. Make Friends

College is the time to meet new people and make friends. Don’t be afraid to make them nor lose them. You will need some positive energy to get you through your college life. So before you attend college, figure out what you want from your college experience and pick your friends wisely.

4. Get Involved

Getting involved in activities at your college or joining clubs will make your college experience so much better. GCC has a huge variety of clubs for students to join. In the past, I have joined the Criminal Justice Club and Student Government Club. You get to meet other students, learn, and most definitely have fun.

5. Roommate Trouble? Make a Contract!

If you plan to live in the dorms, I highly recommend making a roommate agreement. A roommate agreement is when you and your fellow roommates sit down and talk about the rules for the dorm/apartment. As a dormer and a resident advisor, I see roommate disagreements happen a lot. If there is something that you do not want your roommate to do, take that time to tell them and write it down. For example, if you do not want your roommate to eat your food, or go into your room, make sure to tell them and put it in the contract. 

6. Take Care of your Physical and Mental Health 

I won’t lie to you. College is not easy, but it does not have to be too stressful. College students are known for overthinking things and being very stressed out. If you are having trouble with a class or need someone to talk to, check out the counseling department. They are always there to chat if you need it. Furthermore, participating in a sport, going to the gym, or even taking a walk, is the best way to clear your head and stay healthy.

7. Check your Syllabus.

College students tend to forget about their syllabus. A syllabus is your guide to a course and what is expected of you in the class. Generally, it will include course policies, rules and regulations, required texts, and a schedule of assignments. I highly recommend that you print out the syllabus for every class, read it, and always have it with you.

As you can see, I have learned a lot. Starting college is one of the most exciting, yet terrifying things to do. However, I believe that by implementing these tips from the very beginning will help you get a successful jump-start to your college life. 


Rachel Gelabale from Curaçao is attending Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York.