A freshman’s guide to their first year of college


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No matter what age you are, your first year of college might be one of the scariest experiences ever, especially if you are new to the area, without many friends, and not knowing how to act, it can lead to many situations that you are just unsure about all together. Based on my experience, in no specific order I have put together some tips on how to survive your freshman year of college.

The dreaded “Freshman Fifteen”

Yes, this is actually a thing. You may hear stories of people even gaining a freshman 5 or 10, but the “15” is the most common one. With all the stress of trying to get acquainted with things you can really gain a few pounds without even noticing. My advice would be to just accept it. Although, I should mention that there are a lot of people who do not gain the 15, and they are considered to be lucky. I was one of those people who insisted that I would not be one to gain the extra 15 pounds my freshman year, but I did gain it, I definitely did.

Your procrastination may get worse

Oh yes, my friend, this is something to be VERY careful of. If you thought typing that 3 page, double spaced essay on a book you never read, the night before it was due was easy in high school, and think you can do the same in college, you are in for a reality check. Professors at this level know very well to give you an essay topic that would require you to do the actual readings. So maybe now is a good time to try and make sure that your procrastination does not get worse.

A college student’s favorite word: FREE.

Take advantage of anything free… unless of course it’s a foam beard to represent your school’s mascot.

Sleep is so important

A sister said that this should be at the top of the list, and I could not agree more. There will be times where you are trying to finish your homework by the time the clock strikes 10, this way you can get a good night’s rest for tomorrow’s 8am class, but when you finally look at the clock, you realize it is already 3am and you have to get up for class in a few hours. Get as much sleep as you can, and cherish every second of it. Believe me when I say that you will not be judged if you take a nap or two (or three?) during the day, to be honest you might actually be praised for having the opportunity. Also don’t feel bad if you find yourself waking up at noon on a weekend, unless you were supposed to go into work that morning, then that might be a problem.  

Home is just a phone call away

Home-sickness is a big thing in college. A lot more people have it than you would think. If you’re going school at a place that is not near home, it can be very hard to adjust to the idea of being away for long periods of time before you are home again. I have a close bond with my family, so being away from them was hard, especially in the beginning. I am not lying when I say that I texted my mom every day, throughout the day. Being home sick is not something to be embarrassed of because it happens no matter who you are. The great thing is that with today’s technology it makes it a thousand times easier to be home without really being home.

Keep track of your money

There’s nothing worse than asking your friend to pay for a meal that comes out to $2.96.   Take advantage of your library resources This is another advice from a friend, if you’re living on campus, dorms can get pretty noisy especially during the week. If you have a hall that actually follows the “quiet hours” rules, consider yourself lucky. The library is there for a reason and you can always expect it to be a nice and quiet place to work. In relation the library online database really does help when it comes to those crazy research papers. The library is there for a reason, use it!

Don’t be scared to try new things

I understand, you’re not used to this whole, being out on your own thing and all the wonderful things that come with it. (Yes, that was a little bit of sarcasm.) It is a new way of living that you need to get used to. Go out and explore the area that your school is in, see what they have to offer around and outside of campus. Take your roommate along for the adventure as a bonding experience. Or go with a group of friends! Don’t the best stories come from you and your friends exploring anyway?

No, you do not need every single thing on the college’s dorm room checklist.

If you do that, you will end up with a lot of pointless things that you truly have no use for. You should get the “basics” then go from there on what else you may need. I can honestly say that I learned this from experience

No distractions. Stay on task

This is where those college stereotypes come into play. Parties, drugs, alcohol, hookups etc. Although I can’t speak from experience, I’ve seen it happen to other people. They get a little too wrapped up in the “party scene” and suddenly forget why they are really there. I don’t know about you, but I would not put my education, and the money invested into it, in danger because of too much partying. Sure it’s great to go out every once in a while, but don’t go crazy with that idea. College is a lot more serious than high school, staying on task and focusing on the big picture is very important. There are actually a lot of people that choose not to go out at all, and it is completely okay! As long as you have a good group of friends to keep you on track, you will be fine.

Stay away from peer pressure

This is normal thing that everyone deals with in their daily lives. I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. College isn’t a place for distractions, if you don’t feel comfortable with doing something, but you feel like your friends are pressuring you, don’t do it!

Attendance isn’t always mandatory, BUT sometimes it is in freshman level classes

You need to be very careful. A lot of classes give points for daily attendance, and even though those small points may not seem like a lot, it definitely adds up and could end up being the difference between an A and a B. Be careful with this. You should still only really be missing classes for sicknesses. I know that there was almost a week of classes I had missed because I couldn’t even get out from bed. College is hard and brings a lot of stress, don’t be skipping class just so you can lay in bed all day. I’m not kidding when I say that it will come back and kick your butt later.

Write things down.

If you’re lucky enough to have a good, even photographic, memory, good for you. You will use it a lot in college. If you don’t have this awesome super power, writing things down is CRUCIAL. I had a student planner where I wrote everything down at, with post-it notes to remind me of due date, times, etc. I used the calendar on my phone as well as had post-it notes on my desk and laptop screens. Sadly there were still things I forgot to do, but I was still able to get them done on time. Just begin by using a student planner, it really does make a difference.

Looks are not that important

People will show up to class in just about anything. Don’t waste your time trying to impress people with new fancy clothes, and hair and makeup done. It’s not as big of a deal you would think. Sleep in, go to class in your pajamas. You will thank yourself later for getting that extra hour of sleep.

Have fun

Don’t live your college life cooped up in our room all the time. Go out, see a movie, go shopping, get a meal, sit in your room, but do it WITH FRIENDS. If the only time you’re leaving your dorm is to go to class and (or?) go grocery shopping, you’re doing it wrong. You deserve a break every once in a while, so use it! If you didn’t take the chance, you may regret it later.

*On a side note, I think that joining a club, going Greek, or getting involved in any other way helps with the college experience. I made the decision to go Greek my second semester of my first year, and it one of the greatest decisions I have made. I have made memorable friendships since I joined Alpha Delta Pi; inside and outside of the sorority. If you are unsure about going Greek, I would recommend at least rushing and seeing if you have any interest. Greek life is not for everyone, but there are other options out there! If you find a place where you are happy and comfortable then that is where you belong!

College student who loves her family, friends, food, Netflix, and ADPi sisters<3

View all articles by

Marissa Ramirez

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