If you want to be a successful college freshmen, then you need to develop the right habits.

In the military, there is a strategy (the overall plan), there are tactics (the maneuvers used to see a strategy through to the end), and there is training (the backbone of an individual soldier or leader’s ability to handle each problem as it comes). Training has quite frequently been the deciding factor in military history and is certainly the most important factor in determining the individual soldier’s fate.

Successful College FreshmenThe same holds true in your life as a college freshman. You may have an overall strategy to become a civil rights lawyer, you may be putting into play tactics such as attending the right school and donating time to the right causes, but without training in the right habits, you’re effectively relying on luck to see you through every individual challenge that you’ll face as a college student.

7 habits of a successful college freshmen:

1.      Never Wait

Waiting in line for a movie is fine, waiting for class to start instead of kicking the door in is fine, but you should never wait on somebody else to take the initiative. Don’t wait for your professor to notice that you’re not doing very well and give you some direct advice; go up to her and ask her to clarify after class if you’re not sure that you’re grasping the material. Don’t wait for your dorm mate to talk to the RA about your broken air conditioner, go talk to him yourself. Take the initiative. This is a great habit in school and in life.

2.      Be Nice

Simply being nice will get you a lot farther in life than you might think. Most importantly, be nice to the people that others tend to be rude to. Think of the staff at your school; secretaries, assistants, and janitors really hold a lot of the power. A secretary is the one who decides whether or not to bump your appointment up or get you in at an earlier more convenient time. Now imagine if you’re the only person who’s come in to talk to her all day who’s treated her with the respect to ask how she’s doing, smile, and be friendly? You don’t want to be a pushover; don’t compromise your own goals just to appease others, but generally speaking, it doesn’t hurt to be nice, to start conversations with a compliment, to smile, and to be friendly and sociable.

3.      Set Realistic Short Term Goals

Maybe you want to be a millionaire someday, but in the meantime, you have a lot of short term goals to meet before you get there. When you set yourself up with a series of realistic short term goals you wind up with a long list of accomplishments behind you, as well as the confidence that comes with knowing that you have the ability to decide what you want and to go get it.

4.      Ask

The more you ask, the more you’ll know, and the more meaningful relationships you’ll create. If there’s one thing people love to do, it’s talk about themselves, their experiences, their skills and interests, where they live, and what they do. Ask questions of your roommates, your professors, and school staff.

5.      Study What You Love

Education is not just about getting good grades and earning your degree, it’s about enriching your mind, personality, and life. Even if you major in something for practical reasons, such as it’s a growing field with great jobs, you should still take time to study things that interest you just for pleasure.

6.      Show Up

Don’t just show up physically, show up mentally and emotionally for everything you do: every class, every meeting and every part time job. Be a person, not a butt in a seat.  Your professors and potential employers will notice this passion and initiative.

7.      Learn to Manage Your Money

This is pretty much your last chance to become smart about money before you wind up with a career, a family, car payments, and a mortgage, so get smart about it now. Learn how to save, how to spend wisely, and how to earn. This is even more important than getting a great job, because the truth is that you can be a lot happier on a five figure salary if you know how to save, than on a six figure salary if you don’t. 

Successful College FreshmenTara Jackson writes for EduTrek.com, a college search site. When she’s not writing about college, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and reading. @tjatedutrek

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