While some fellow students are preparing for their first year in high school, others have recently graduated and are about to take the plunge into first-year college. This is an undeniably exciting time for personal growth, but it also comes with many fears and doubts.

The best thing you can do to have a successful college experience is to prepare ahead of time and have a plan in place for your success and to achieve your personal goal – and this article teaches you how to reach that ultimate goal.

How to Prepare for College Life

successful college experience

College life will be much different than your life right now, whether going to a local college, community college, or moving hundreds of miles away. Regardless of where your college experience leads you, here are a couple of ways to prepare for college life and be part of the successful students community.

Get Organized to Make the Transition to College

One of the initial steps is to have all your essential items organized and ready for the big day. This means ensuring that your backpack has all essentials – pencils, pens, paper, and a laptop. You should also organize if you’re going to live in a dorm, which is a great way to increase your social skills and build a network of people that will contribute to the process of achieving your personal goal. Remember – not everything from your current room should make its way into your dorm. There simply isn’t enough space.

Prepare for Dorm Living

Dorm living means living in a small area with one (or a few) other people. This can be a significant change that will require some getting used to. Perhaps a few summertime sleepovers can help ease you into it? But remember this is a great opportunity to build your social skills and a network of people that are going to be your colleagues in the future.

Prepare a Food Plan

Unfortunately, mom won’t be making you supper anymore. It’s up to you to devise a meal plan – but don’t succumb to ramen noodles and chips, remember you need a high level of energy to succeed at college. You can eat healthily in college by creating a meal plan. Consider purchasing seasonal fruits and veggies, plant protein, and healthy but filling snacks. Successful students eat healthily!


There’s going to be a lot of reading in college, mostly from your lecture classes. The best thing you can do to prepare for the workload is to read plenty of books during the summer break, also because once you are in college you won’t have time to read for pleasure. Try to read books of varying levels and genres. Remember – many college textbooks and books aren’t meant to be “fun or bring class with excitement” but are geared toward learning something specific.

Practice Time Management

One thing most new college students struggle with is time management. But not you! Practice time management over the summer, and you’re more likely to succeed in college. Utilize everything you can, including time management apps, planners, and more. Time management is the key to success in your college courses.

Create a Budget

Creating a budget before you head off to college is crucial. The last thing you want to do is worry about finances when you have a hefty workload of class notes to think about. Include essential items in your budget, such as food, clothing, extracurricular academic activities, interdisciplinary activities, and of course, essentials for school, including books, equipment, etc.

How to Succeed in College

successful college experience

Now that you’re prepped and ready for your new life as a first-year college student, it’s time to discuss the most important thing: how to succeed in college and complete your ultimate goal. With these simple tips, you can rest assured your college experience will be a positive one in your initial steps.

Set Your Goals and Expectations for the Semester

First and foremost, create a game plan. When you have a clear idea of your ultimate goal and expectations of career opportunities, you’re likelier to stick to them. Write them down (on paper or in an app) all of your goals and expectations for the summer so you don’t get sidetracked by all of the hustle and bustle happening at the college. This could be an interesting essay prompt for your English class *wink wink*.

Understand Your Career Path Requirements

Not all classes lead to the same goal. For instance, someone wanting an accounting degree will have far different classes than someone going for nursing. It’s imperative to understand the requirements for your chosen career path. So, remember to take a look at your college catalog.

Don’t panic if you don’t have a chosen career path in your first year or two. It won’t be essential until you’re further along in your college life. So, don’t hesitate to take some time to get to know yourself through those first college courses, figure out how this whole college thing works, and learn what you truly want to do for the rest of your life. (TLDR – it’s OK not to have your whole life planned out the second your feet touch the college campus, that’s an ambitious goal)

Set Up Meetings With Your Guidance Counselor

All of this can be confusing and overwhelming. And that’s precisely why there are guidance counselors, in your college circle. Their main job is to, well, guide you. If you are confused about prerequisites and requirements or want to know how you can become more involved in the school or in interdisciplinary activities that will help you in your initial steps, your guidance counselor can help. Could you make use of them as much as possible?

Make Use of Student Resources on Campus

Whether it’s your first year or you’re headed back to college to give it another go, one thing you won’t want to forget about is the student resources, in your college circle. There are seemingly endless amounts of resources available to students, from financial aid to tutoring and recreational services to health services. Use them when necessary to take the edge off particular struggles. They also offer career opportunities, for when you are about to reach the end line.

Go To Every Class

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning, to attend your lecture hall. This is especially true because first-year students tend to get overwhelmed and miss class because they’re too stressed about their other college courses. But this will do you no favors; in fact, it will lead to further problems and stress in terms of class notes and class lectures. Always attend class with excitement, and while you’re at it, try to sit up front where you’ll have an easier time focusing and taking class notes if necessary.

When class is over, don’t hesitate to chat with your professor, who said the class lecture was over. There’s nothing wrong with having a friendly relationship with your teachers, and it may benefit you one day as they can help you build a great network of people in your field of study (i.e., your teacher can write you a stellar letter of recommendation!).

Stay on Budget

Remember that budget you put together before coming to college (or back to college)? That wasn’t just for fun. There’s a reason why you created a budget – to stick to it. Staying on a budget will ensure you don’t find yourself in the hole, which can produce devastating consequences. After all, who wants to worry about a negative bank account balance when you have a 3,000-word supplemental essay due in 3 hours?

Get Involved

The last thing to do to have a successful college experience is to get involved. Remember that, while your grades and working hard are essential to be successful in college, you shouldn’t forget to have fun, too. This is all about your initial steps of personal growth and core values.

Getting involved in college will mean different things to different people. For instance, some people may consider joining a quiet club like a Chess club, while others may join an organization to make a change. Others might enjoy something more sporty, like the swim team or the racing team, while others want to employ their creativity with art or theater. Some people may want to join a fraternity or sorority and make a network of people that will be friends they’ll hold onto for life!

Having a Successful College Experience is Easier Than You Think, Friends!

successful college experience

When it comes to how to succeed in college, whether you’re a new student or returning to college to give it another shot, don’t overcomplicate things, and stick to your personal values. Success means utilizing all the wonderful things the campus has to offer, including guidance counselors, financial resources, gyms, and libraries. Make a clear goal and stick to it, but don’t forget to stay on budget and have some fun in the meantime.

Are you prepared to go to college and start your new, exciting life?

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Remember for our fellow Latinx readers, if you are also looking for more relevant content in Spanish please visit our Spanish site at ellatendencias.com.