Olivet College
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Written by Hailey Willett, senior Insurance and Risk Management major, minoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.

1. You need less dorm items than you think.Before you spend (too much) open house money on items for your dorm, trust me when I say that less is more. Think practicality rather than attempting to make your room look like what you typically see in a magazine. Bring what you need (don’t forget power cord strips, a small set of plastic silverware and dishes, hand towels, etc.) and then evaluate additional items that will help make your new room a comfortable living space once you’ve settled in. Throw pillows are optional.

2. Create relationships early.
Getting to know your professors one-on-one is an important thing. Not only will it help when the time comes to utilize their office hours in order to seek help with difficult material, but asking for a letter of recommendation to earn a big scholarship or land a job opportunity later in your academic career will be that much easier when it’s comes time to approach a professor whom you have built a solid relationship with.

3. Always, always check the syllabus. And then check it again.
College professors do not give avid reminders as to when assignments are due; your job is to avidly check the syllabus that is handed out during the first week of classes. It’s your golden ticket to turning assignments in on time and preparing for upcoming test or project dates. Check it, know it, love it to be successful in any course.

4. Get involved, give back.
To receive the most out of any college experience, getting involved is key. Many institutions offer a plethora of campus activities to enhance your time as a coed, such as intramural sports, student government and even opportunities to volunteer and perform community service. This is a great way to meet new peers, make a difference on campus, give back to others, create lasting memories and gain valuable extracurricular experience to place on a resume that will help you stand above other job candidates upon graduation.

5. It’s OK to say no.
Conversely, don’t overwhelm yourself in your first year of college by committing to more organizations and extracurricular activities than what your schedule allows. It’s OK to politely decline invitations to join other groups if you know there’s no more room left on your plate to add another commitment. You can’t perform at your best in the classroom or outside if you’re stretched too thinly for time: maintain a balance and your grades, and sanity, will thank you.

6. Cultivate essential career skills now.
Learning how to network, build a strong resume and understand how to give a firm handshake are just a few of the most critical skills an undergrad should be equipped with in order to hop on the fast track of finding a job and impressing a future employer. By getting ahead of the game as a freshman, you will be better able to fortify essential career skills to near perfection, versus waiting until senior year to Google what an elevator speech is.

7. Start a college bucket list.
End the senior should’ve-could’ve-would’ve woes and create a college bucket list to keep track of all the accomplishments you hope to cross off during your four years of undergrad. Amp up the fun by getting your friends involved too and keep each other accountable of sticking to the list. The possibilities are endless, and so will be the memories.

8. College ‘ID’ stands for insane discounts.
OK, maybe not exactly “insane,” but keeping your new college ID on you at all times can save you from having to pay full price on many products and services when you’re enjoying a night out with friends. Flash it to earn discounts on movie passes, sign up for memberships such as Amazon Student and even shave a bit off your bill at participating restaurants.

9. Scholarships are free money.
Many financial aid departments work tirelessly to help students finance the hefty price tag of college. Luckily, sites like fastweb.com and other scholarship search engines also step in as useful tools to help alleviate college expenses – craft a short essay, fill out basic information and you’re halfway there. Continue to keep tabs throughout the academic year on internal scholarships posted by your school, as well as external scholarships available within the industries relevant to your major area of study.

10. Learn how to parallel park.
Bonus tip – because every college campus has parallel parking and it’s beyond impressive when your friend does it seamlessly. It’s an essential skill that can save you when you’re in a pinch to park your car in that last open spot, snug right between two vehicles on the street, as you’re running late to class. Parallel park like a pro and you can do anything.

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