Tips for Your Freshman Year of College
From One Student to Another
College is one of the most enjoyable times you will have in life. It is the one time where we get to enjoy the benefits of freedom and newly acquired adulthood without the hassles of full time work or life in the real world. Now as a freshman, it is hard to really know what to expect once you unpack those bags on move in day and begin your 4 or maybe 5 years of undergraduate studies. So here are a few little tidbits of advice and a few tips that I have come across in my short time in college. While I am most certainly not an expert in all things college, I have had my fair share of experiences and hopefully this has some nugget of worth to you, so please enjoy.
So my first bit of advice is simple, get out of your dorm room. Don’t mistake the small space with four walls as a cage. At first you may feel lonely or out of place in a new environment with new people but honestly for the most part every one is in the same boat. So take advantage of that.
Everyone wants to make new friends and have a fresh start in college so it will be easy to make new friendships. I know it may seem scary at first but sitting in your dorm feeling sad and lonely is worthless. Venture outside, you will thank yourself later.
Do not go home every weekend. Yes, you miss your old friends and family but don’t grip to your high school life at all costs. I am not saying forget all about your old friends and most certainly do not ignore your family either but more so give your self the chance to have a life in college. I still probably talk with my mom almost every day on the phone but I am not running home every weekend for laundry and cookies either. I still have my close knit group of friends from high school that I still keep in touch with but we all have our own lives at our prospective colleges.
Yes, you are going to lose touch with some people, but that’s life, a simple fact that you will have to accept. Have the will to maintain the friendships that really mean something to you but have the understanding that hanging on to everything is futile. As a side note in general when you make trips home less frequently they are more enjoyable. Mom and dad miss you and there is that slight ‘honey moon’ phase where they are just glad you are home and they make you really good food.
You have to let them miss you a little first though.
Take classes seriously. This may seem silly and obvious but when you are in college it is easy to get distracted. Mommy and daddy are not going to be holding your hand. It is up to you to take initiative. I knew a guy who could recite every episode of South Park and always found the most hilarious videos on YouTube but he also slept in, skipped pretty much every class and had a 0.3 GPA to show for it and had to drop out.
You are going to have to try and focus.
You or your parents are investing thousands of dollars so that you can get a degree and hopefully a job. While college is supposed to be fun, you are supposed to learn something in the process. My summer working in fast food has made me all the more appreciative that I will have a degree in two years and the ability to get a job that I can enjoy and like. College lasts four years and work picks up for the 30 something years that follow so make it count.
Furthermore, for your first batch of tests go overboard with studying which shouldn’t be that hard because you won’t know what to expect and odds are you will be worried about the tests. Blowing off the first test puts you in a hole at the beginning of the semester and believe me it is hard to dig yourself out.
Get involved or do something in college that is exterior to classes. I am not saying you have to run for class president but at least find something that interests you. Colleges are a host of a plethora of organizational involvement. My school has clubs and organizations that span from student government and Greek houses, to things like the origami club, paint ball leagues, karate, dance teams, and religious groups from Christianity to Buddhism.
Plus, there are tons intramurals on campus and when all else fails there are societies based on your major or your career path. Something will catch your eye. Finding people with a similar passion is a great way to make new friends, plus it is nice to take a break from class every now and then.
Be adventurous. College is where you find yourself. It is the first time for many of us when we are truly on our own and on the forefront of our decision making. We make the curfews and set the rules. Allow your self to try new things and maybe take a small step out of your comfort zone and set routine. Don’t feel like you have to take on every thing but at least take the time to see what else may be out there.
As a really minor example take music, before college I was pretty much just into rock music and pretty much just the classic, hard, or alternative stuff. Over time I have grown to appreciate a broader musical spectrum which includes country, rap, hip hop, and indie. I still like my Pearl Jam, Disturbed, and Audioslave but I have found that I like Spoon, T-Pain, and Gary Allen too. Get my drift?
Don’t let others define you or feel that you have to act a certain way. College has its stereotypes and a certain social connotation overall. However, cool really does not exist in college at least not in the same sense as in high school. Colleges and Universities are big and there are lots of different people there is no need or really logistical way to appeal to everyone. Plus, you don’t have to be any one’s super star and cater yourself to fit other people’s specifications.
You will fit in some where and if you are aiming to change or expand yourself make sure it is for you and not the approval of others. Since, I am on the subject I might as well bring up drinking and partying. People party in college, surprise, surprise. However, everyone doesn’t enjoy them self the same way.
Figure out where you stand on the subject before others figure that out for you and if all else at least have a designated driver or stay the night if you plan on drinking.
Buy an alarm clock, a cell phone alarm will not do. Also place the alarm clock somewhere that actually requires you to get up. That snooze button is tempting and the OFF switch calls sometimes too. Having to get up will make it slightly less tempt, plus if you hit the snooze button for an hour every ten minutes you are going to annoy your room mate like no other.
Buy a cheap bike and an expensive lock.
I once had a bike. Now I don’t have one. Need I say more?
Make upperclassman friends in your major. It will help with choosing professors, studying for tests, and it may help you figure out if you are even in the right major. If you are unable to meet upperclassmen at least get Pick-A-Prof. It is 5 bucks. You make more in an hour working minimal wage. You can afford it.
Find a hot study partner. I am kind of joking but not entirely. It may actually get you to go to the library and asking a pretty girl or guy if they would like to work on history with you is a lot less intimidating then dinner and a movie. Granted it is getting trickier for me because I am in Engineering and it seems that very few girls pursue that major but at least I have electives.
Overall, though it is good to find a few people you can study with or at least share notes with.
Overall, just get excited. College is a blast and you will find your place whether you know where it is or not. Savor it while you can because it will be over sooner then you would think.