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When I decided to go away for college, I immediately turned to my cousins and friends who already had experienced all these college firsts I had so many questions about. I took in everything they said but knew that I would have my own experiences, make mistakes on the way, yet learn from those mistakes and grow.

I remember anticipation building as I spent that summer shopping, packing and connecting with my future classmates on Facebook. If you find yourself in this situation currently, here are my three tips for your first semester.

As much as your at college for your first step of independence and a chance to start over, you shouldn’t forget you’re there for school and preparing yourself for your future. Before your schedule gets packed with parties, clubs, sports, etc. set up a daily schedule for yourself  and hold yourself accountable for it. You should get your professor’s office hours and stop by every so often. I was fortunate to attend a small college where my professors knew me, but I still stopped by to see them. Making the effort  to stop by during office hours is even more important if you chose a college with a larger study body. I learned the hard way that studying in high school is not the same as studying in college. Luckily I caught myself early and was able to get back on track.

You’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak if you try not to rush into a relationship right away. Try finding friends with common interests. There is no rush to find someone because you may be missing out on some amazing experiences that you missed because you were focused on one thing. You never know, you may actually meet someone in one of the new clubs or activities you are joining!

 Finally, use this first semester, as well as your next four years as a time to find your own path. Take this time, while you have it, to learn from your own mistakes and find what your passionate about.

We want to know your best advice for the school year! Share with us on Twitter @UChic to share ideas or leave us a comment below.

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