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7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Left for College

As a wise college graduate with a full year of law school under my belt, I can confidently recommend a few surefire ways to maximize your first year of college. You will be significantly better prepared than the classmates to your left and right come orientation week if you:

  1. Choose a list of prospective majors based on a goal career path. Whether you are a laser-focused pre-med or an undecided wannabe philosopher, you probably have a vision of the kind of life you see yourself living in 10 years. Consider emailing your advisor to help you narrow down 3 majors that will propel you towards this life.

  2. Create a spreadsheet of required courses in your prospective major AND required general electives, and plan to graduate as early as possible. This is beneficial in many ways, in particular giving you room for a double major, minor, or just saving tuition money.

  3. Research study abroad and externship opportunities, and integrate these into your 3-4 year college plans. When studying abroad, you are often limited to a small selection of courses that might not further your declared major - so get required courses in as early as possible. Alternatively, consider studying abroad opportunities in the summer or during breaks. My brother and I both found college-funded opportunities to travel abroad.

  4. Ensure that you have converted all of your applicable AP or IB test scores into college credit. If you are unsure which scores are eligible for credit, reach out to your freshman advisor.

  5. Choose first semester courses compatible with as many of your prospective majors as possible. For example, taking Microeconomics or Integral Calculus will take care of early requisite courses in Economics, Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Methods in Social Sciences (three different potential majors for a future in business).

  6. Take the opportunity to attend any pre-orientation programs in the summer before classes start. This will allow you to meet your classmates early while getting to know the campus and the spirit of your school.

  7. Reach out to your roommate when you are paired to start a dialogue and make plans about splitting costs for decorations and dorm necessities. Your roommate may not be your future best friend, but aim to keep daily dorm life as cordial as possible.

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