Person with binoculars lead team sailing origami shipNow that the pomp and circumstance of graduation is over, it’s time to focus on your next adventure – college!

You’re likely experiencing many different emotions about leaving home and setting out on your own, all of which are normal. After all, you’re starting a whole new life. Just know that you are not alone. There are very few, if any, people who feel totally confident going into college.

I asked the staff at EducationQuest, experts in higher education, to share their wisdom/advice on how best to navigate your journey. But don’t just take our word for it! Be sure to connect with family and friends and get their advice.

Eric: Get to know your professors. They will appreciate that you are showing interest in their class, and it will help turn you from a number to a name. This can come in handy if you need extra help.

Jeannine: My mother started every school year with the same advice. ‘Be nice to everyone, but choose your friends wisely.’ I’ve heard it said that we are the sum total of the five people we spend the most time with. Choose wisely and surround yourself with people who uplift you and make you better.

Liz: Learn how to budget and manage your finances. Take advantage of an app like Mint to pull everything together in real-time.

Brad: Get involved on campus with whatever floats your boat! You’ll make friends who share common interests and build a social network that lasts a lifetime. Also, be resilient and stay positive. You are bound to make some mistakes along the way; just be sure you learn from them.

Jacquie: College is a whole new world, and you’re not expected to know everything the day you step on campus, so don’t be afraid to ask questions! Whether it’s directed at your professor, academic advisor, support staff, or peers, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Remaining silent may cause you to miss out on important information, deadlines, and events, so do yourself a favor and speak up.

Brandon: Sit in the front row, raise your hand, and be noticed. Professors remember students who participate. Engage in group projects – these trial runs of life outside of school will help you develop skills for life as a professional. Don’t focus on the piece of paper that is the degree; focus on the skills you honed getting it.

Chelsey: Try new things and learn to feel comfortable being uncomfortable! Take a class that looks interesting, visit a local business, travel a different route on campus, join a club, try an intramural activity, and make new friends. College is the time when you have the freedom and opportunity to learn more about your true self and, hopefully, embrace it.

Kristin: During the first weeks of school, on-campus organizations will likely offer get-to-know-others events. GO! Meet new people, make some friends. You might even meet your future spouse, as I did.

Stacy: Get involved on campus. Join a group or two to make new friends and explore all that the college experience offers!

My best advice? Use your time in college to “find yourself.” Meet new people. Take classes that interest you. Explore new places. Study abroad! Learn about other cultures – their food, customs, and history. Be present in every moment. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Most of all, enjoy this time in your life.

College presents a unique opportunity to explore a whole world of ideas. I have no doubt you will look back on this time with a grateful heart if you take advantage of the fantastic opportunities yet to present themselves.