(I'm very late to this post, so... ::blush::)
First off, congratulations!
It's only thing to be accepted to a great university. It's another to be recognized in the way you are -- someone they're wiling to give heaps of money and opportunities to! ;)
What do you want to study?
I saw insomnia's post and wanted to toss a little more advice your way. I've been on both sides of university life -- twice as student, now as a college prof (okay, it's not my 'formal' title, but the kids call me professor), so I hope all the things I've learned the hard way, you don't have to.
- I agree with insomnia 100 percent: do not wish for time to fly. You will have plenty of time to be a working adult with all the un-fun crap that comes with it. It's not a lie -- college is the best time of your life. You have the freedom of an adult, with the safety net of your parents (and as I later learned, all your professors who really do want you to succeed).
- I do not know how Colgate structures its academics, but try, TRY to avoid taking more than 4-5 courses a semester. Don't cram everything in. I'm guessing if you were regarded as a scholar by the university, you are probably walking in with some credits from AP classes. Don't use those credits to speed up your experience (i.e. "I graduated in 3 years!"). Slow it down. Figure out exactly how long it will take you to walk with graduating class, maybe even a year later (if you have that luxury). At the university I teach, because there is a flat rate for each semester, students can take up to 20 credit hours (6-7 classes). They're bogged down with so many activities the quality of everything -- not just academics -- suffers. How can you actually dedicate time to learning something when you're just trying to balance everything? But beyond that, this is your time to grow as a person. Take all the time humanly (and financially) possible.
- I also don't know how your scholarship is structured, what requirements you need to meet to keep it all four years. (I'm going to assume, at minimum, a certain GPA.) Don't go in looking to graduate with a 4.0. Aim for a 3.75, maybe even a 3.5 (or :: gasp :: a 3.25 if you're permitted.) As best you can, stop thinking about grades. Obviously, in some cases, the best grade is necessary. And maybe you want to go on to graduate school, so yes, good grades matter. But you are going to college to learn not get grades. Think about it: what does it mean if you get an A in a class, but don't remember much from it? What does it mean to undertake a challenging course and walk away with a hard-earned B? It is okay if you're not perfect. No one is. Heck, it's even okay to fail (maybe a quiz, experiment, test -- not a class!). If you're taking classes that come easy to you, find something which will scare you, humble you, make you work hard. Maybe you'll never use the material in life, but the process of getting out of a comfort zone will be invaluable.
- Find your mentor or a like-minded professor to geek out with as soon as you can. Those were some of the best times I had in college, just chatting about ideas or working on projects with professors whose area of expertise I loved. And I love it being on the other side now. Again, it's nothing to do with grades -- just a real, enthusiastic love for learning.
- Don't procrastinate. Period. Just don't. It took me until my Master's degree (and this after working 10 years full-time) to realize getting things done one, two days early is such an incredible relief. I kept asking myself, "Why did I not realize this before?" So when your professor gives you a syllabus with everything outlined, take advantage of it!
- I've had to give this advice to too many students: prepare yourself. I've known of very few who go through college and do not experience something horrible in their personal life. Deaths, suicides, addictions, major medical and/or mental health issues, serious problems with family (maybe friends). I think at your age, there is a sense of invincibility -- we all had it -- and it is only a matter of time before reality checks in. Here's the good news: when very bad things happen, the people around you will go above and beyond to help. Most students do not realize how many nets in place to help you. Advisors, counselors, medical professionals. You just need to let them know. Don't wait. Be honest and upfront. As a student, when I ran into problems and informed my professors, the first response was always, "what can I do to help?" I pay forward that courtesy to my students. Many of my colleagues do, too. If you are in need of help, it is 100 percent okay to ask for it.
- Finally, HAVE FUN. Find an activity you enjoy (if you end up not enjoying it, find something new; just don't overload on activities!). Do the college thing. (You know ... drink a little ... RESPONSIBLY!). Go on a road trip with friends. Reward yourself after putting in a hard night of studying. Discover who you are, or who you want to be. Learn everything you can about the world and gain the appetite to go out an explore it. :)
The very best of luck, galen. :)