As a rising senior, I find myself reflecting now more than ever on the experiences I had in college, especially as a freshman when I had no idea what to expect.
On how these experiences have changed me, challenged me and propelled me forward.
I’ve learned so many valuable lessons that have helped me grow both professionally and as an individual. We all do.
It’s life–the learning.
So is the sharing–the importance of offering your experiences to others who may be looking for direction, ressoance or journeys they can relate to. Of giving advice and tips to those still figuring it out.
And I’m excited to get to share those lessons, memories and hard-earned pieces of advice with all of you.
1. You have to be self-motivated in college.
When making the transition from steady, guided high school courses to independent and self-reliant college courses, I quickly realized that college was not high school. Living in dorm rooms, eating at the dining halls, and having access to unlimited student life activities all seem so exciting and surreal and we are eager to jump right in.
But, remember that with all the fun comes all the responsibility. Now you are in charge of creating your own schedule and sticking to it!
You have to be self-motivated, self-possessed and self-sustained.
This can be challenging at first, but as you begin classes and start to explore campus life, it gets easier and way more fun. It’s just an adjustment, one you’re more than capable of making.
2. Stay in touch with your friends from home.
When the day finally came for me to pack the car and drive 600 miles away from my hometown and leave my best friends, I felt completely devastated. We went from seeing each other literally everyday to moving away to different states and now only being able to visit each other for Thanksgiving, maybe.
Although it can be difficult to stay in touch while living different lives, it is so important to make an effort to talk with your friends from home. After moving and getting in the groove of my new life, I realized how special it is to connect and chat with them as often as possible. I always love to hear about my friend’s college experiences and filling them in on my life as well.
3. Use your free time wisely.
Once you get to college and realize it’s extremely different from high school, you may find yourself having an ~unusual~ amount of free time. Compared to taking 8 classes a day for hours straight, in college you may only have 2 or 3 classes per day, and an entire afternoon to do whatever you want!
Seriously, it’s pretty great.
Use this time to catch up on homework, work out, clean your space or even divulge in some last minute studying before hitting that awesome party that everyone’s going to.
4. Remember that hard work pays off.
You’ve probably been told this your entire life, but it’s so true. Those countless, long nights studying thinking to yourself “Why do I even need to know this?!” will all be so worth it. Even if you don’t see immediate results, just know that the time and effort you invest in yourself and your future now will without a doubt be worth it in the long run.
5. Professors want to help you. Utilize that.
While it may not seem like it when they’re assigning a research paper on a Friday night and making it due the following Monday morning, it’s true.
During my freshman year, one thing that I noticed was that my professors seemed to genuinely love their jobs and the subjects they teach. If you are punctual, have minimal absences, participate, and show interest, it does not go unnoticed and oftentimes they will go out of their way to ensure you do well.
6. Take advantage of campus resources.
Going into college I actually wasn’t aware of all the resources my university had to offer. It was when I began failing my prerequisite math course that I began looking into the “Learning Lab” tutoring sessions, and I found that actively going to get extra help was the best decision for me.
Since then, I have taken advantage of the career center and counseling center in addition to tutoring, and I have found each to be beneficial in their own ways. College is expensive, so you might as well take advantage of the resources while you can!
7. Call your mom.
Huge reminder! Stay in touch with family. Now that you are living away from home and consumed with new friendships and an intimidating class and homework schedule, don’t forget to reach out and schedule a call with your folks.
After being apart from my family for a while, I’ve grown to love and appreciate them more than ever. Take some time to reflect and be thankful for where you came from and for the people that shaped you into who you are.
8. Perfect your time management & organization skills.
Upon entering college, we get hit with the reality that we are now on our own and have to take initiative to attend our classes and not fall behind in our studies. Freshman year is the time to learn the balance between your social life and your academic responsibilities.
Not only do you have to schedule time to attend classes, but you’ll also have to schedule in when to do laundry, grab lunch with your friends, and complete assignments.
My advice: invest in a planner! Lay out all your tasks for the week and divide them up so you can take it one day at a time. This will build great organizational and time management skills that will not only benefit you for the rest of your time at school, but for the rest of your life.
9. Join clubs & get involved on campus.
My biggest advice to any incoming freshman in college is to get involved on campus in any way you can. As a first-year student moving to a new state to attend a school where I didn’t know anybody, and having to live off campus, I was mortified.
The best way to meet new people and make friends at school is by joining clubs, going to sporting events, or participating in school hosted community service events. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a really good chance your university has a club for it.
Put yourself out there!
I promise you won’t regret it.
10. Take care of yourself.
Lastly, and most importantly, please remember to take care of yourself. College is the time for growth and maturity, so no matter what you have going on in your life don’t forget to put yourself first and find time to do the things you love.
Exercise. Relax. Spend time on your hobbies.
Breathe. Meditate. Try to nourish yourself with a healthy diet.
Rest and get a healthy amount of sleep each night.
Make sure to prioritize self-care with every other way you’re learning and growing.
I know how overwhelming it can be trying to adapt to your new life at school and managing your classes and coursework, but you totally got this.