September means that students are flooding back to Hagerstown-area colleges. Here are some settling-in tips for students new to the Hagerstown area:
- Enjoy the City
It’s easy to get wrapped up in campus life, but Hagerstown offers numerous restaurants and attractions that college students can enjoy. There are several museums—some interactive—and historical sites that focus on the canal. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park has beautiful trails for walking or biking and picnic areas for a group afternoon out.
- Branch Out
Familiarize yourself with other cities that you may want to visit on weekend trips. Many cities hold festivals and fairs before winter. Just last weekend, for example, Lynchburg, Virginia, hosted a Get!Downtown festival intended to welcome college students and introduce them to what the city can offer. The event drew a crowd of thousands who watched dancers, acrobats and musicians perform. There were also concessions and craft displays. If you do want to drive a few hours, just make sure to plan in advance so your homework and classes don’t suffer.
- Stay Safe
Moving away from home allows students more freedom, but that also comes with taking increased responsibility for your own safety. Make sure that you have campus security’s number programmed into your cell, and set it on speed dial if possible. Also have an “ICE”—in case of emergency—number, such as a parent, in your contacts so someone else will know who to call if you’re unable to communicate. Never hesitate to call for help if you find yourself in an unfamiliar area or you feel unsafe.
Whether you’re living in the dorms or in an apartment, college often offers the opportunity to create your own space. Express your personality, but keep quirky frills low-cost. Spend more money for quality pieces when it comes to important staples that have multiple functions. The word “couch” is Middle English, and comes from the French word “couche,” meaning to “to lie down.” This etymology is suggestive, since getting a comfortable couch is an investment that can provide a place for you and your friends to crash for years to come.
- Spend Carefully
Many new students get into financial trouble, with new credit card offers and a lack of parental guidance adding personal spending problems to a growing student debt load. Keep your entertainment budget low by taking advantage of on-campus events (many of which are free, or covered by student activity fees you are required to pay anyway) and looking for spots that offer student discounts. Always consider used textbooks if available. If you’re in a major that doesn’t use textbooks, you can save on other required reading as well; if your professors don’t mind students having different editions, check out used bookstores around Hagerstown instead of buying everything straight from the campus bookstore or online.
What other tips can you offer to Hagerstown students? What Hagerstown attractions shouldn’t be missed? Share advice on your favorite spots in the comments.