Coming from a small tropical island and moving to a big city known for its rain and great coffee somewhat sums up how my freshman year was – it was cold, it involved a lot of caffeine, and it was huge. By huge, I mean that there was so many things that one can learn from their first year in college. In fact, my freshman year was a cyclone of fun, stress, confusion, disappointment, and genuine happiness. It gave me a whole new perception to a side of myself that I never knew and allowed me to reevaluate what my priorities were, so here’s a list of things I took away from my first year of college experience (some of which you probably may have learned or will learn).
1. College is nothing like high school
I came in with a preconceived notion that college was going to be a breeze knowing that my schedule was set on my own terms. In fact, my first semester of my freshman year, I scheduled 8 am classes every single day, five days a week, thinking I could do it “just like high school.” NOPE. It was a killer. I literally had to drag myself out of bed just to get to my classes. Also, if you could get away with studying the night before for finals in high school and get A’s, college is a whole different story. And this leads me to my next point.
2. Studying literally means to STUDY
That’s right. You actually have to do some studying and not just skim through the pages of your notes. In fact, it’s best for one to begin studying the content on the day they took the notes for it, then continuously study the material until the day of exam (on the contrary to studying the night before the exam).
3. Keep a planner with you
My planner contains every single thing that I have going on for the week and even month. It’s nice to have an idea of what your day looks like for tomorrow, or pretty much know what you have due for the week. Simply having a planner allows you to keep track of all your responsibilities at any moment and allows you to figure out what your priorities are, which allows you to increase your productivity. Also, having a planner allows you to set aside time for yourself and for your friends, and also allow you to space out what you really REALLY need to get done ASAP. I also definitely recommend transferring info from your syllabus to your planner so you can easily have a quick look at future due dates/exams for your classes (side note: definitely keep the syllabus with you for future reference).
4. Google Calendar is a lifesaver
I put every single events in my Google Calendar such as meetings, appointments, due dates, exams, group projects, birthdays, school events, and more! It’s nice to have a digital reminder of what’s coming up for me (because I can be very forgetful) — and it’s definitely a great addition to my planner.
5. Always check your school email
I know many college students that easily disregard checking their school emails and end up receiving the wrong information from outside sources. So it’s always best for you to check your school email, especially when your professors send out mass emails of class being cancelled. You wouldn’t want to walk/drive all the way to class and wait for nothing.
6. The library becomes your best friend
Maybe not literally. But I found that the library was where I could focus on studying and really indulge in college academia. In fact, I think I find myself spending so much time there every night that I’d have considered it my second home. The cool thing about my university is that during finals week, the library is open 24 hours and they provide you with snacks and coffee every single night such as soft pretzels with hot melted cheese! I also definitely take advantage of the huge white boards that are available in the library when I study.
7. Take advantage of your campus resources
Your school provides so much free resources for you, and you should take advantage of it (I mean, you are paying for your education, so might as well get the best out of it) such as: the writing center, the academic (tutoring) center, tech support, athletic center, health and counseling services, career services, and spiritual life services.
8. Visit office hours
At the beginning of my freshman year, I thought I could do everything on my own. I even refused to visit my professors because I was really shy, but the moment I began struggling in my classes, I thought “why should I keep my timidness from allowing me to succeed in my classes”? So I visited my professors, and my goodness, let me tell you how much that has really helped me. A LOT. Going to office hours allowed me to better understand the material, and also allowed me to personally meet my professors outside of a classroom setting, which is great because your professor can see how much you truly care about your education and will do as much as they can to really help you.
9. Don’t let your results define you
If you get a result completely different from what you were used to (like getting A’ s in high school), that’s totally okay. Getting your first B is okay. Getting your first C is okay. Even getting your first D or even F is okay. It’s okay because you get to learn from it. You get to figure out what you should do better for when the next exam comes around, and when that next exam does come around, you will be prepared. So do not let a grade define who you are. You are amazing, and you know you can do it.
10. Hard work pays off
All those tears shed, stressful nights up, and consistent studying? They’ll all be worth it, because you know you worked hard for it.
11. Sleep is the best thing ever
Need I say more? Sleeping seven hours or more is literally the best boost you need to get through your day (and definitely some coffee too)!
12. Freshman 15 can be a myth – if you choose it to be
Freshman 15 is real, IF it happens to you. For some reason, I managed to have the same weight all throughout my first year, and I guess it was a matter of eating until you were filled, not until you couldn’t stuff as much food in your stomach anymore, or snacking whenever/wherever. But as a lesson learned, one should definitely incorporate healthy foods into the diet, and take advantage of the school gym (both of which are my goals for my sophomore year).
13. The people you meet the first few weeks won’t be your best friends
The moment you make friends during your freshman orientation, in your classes, and even in your hall, chances are that you won’t remember each other in the future. And that’s okay, you will both eventually find your own ways and places on campus.
14. Be open, say yes
Try out new things! Go out and meet new people! Dare yourself to do something you’ve never imagined you would.
15. But it’s also okay to miss out
You definitely know what’s best for you.
16. Get along with your roommate
They’re who you will be living with for one whole school year. And they will be your backbone if ever you need anything, like my amazing roommate who did a store run to Walgreens to get me medicine whenever I was feeling ill.
17. You don’t need to pack every single thing
You will be amazed by the amount of things you won’t end up using during your first year in college, like that pair of heels you brought with you, or that set of tank tops that’ll eventually just lay waiting in your dorm dresser. My advice is to not over stress what you might be missing. You can always get what you need once you’re there.
18. But do pack a first aid kit
And it should include medicines you might need at any moment like pain relievers, diarrhea relievers, allergy medication, and even the basic band-aids and antibiotic ointments. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten sick during my first year of college and how many times my over-the-counter medicines have saved me from missing a day of class.
19. Value “me” time
Self-care is super duper important. I know that college can be so stressful, but remember to pamper yourself every now and then. Relax. Go ahead and grab your laptop, prop on some Netflix, and binge watch your favorite show whilst snacking on some Doritos chips.
20. Keep in touch with love ones
I am sure you will be homesick from time to time. I know I was. I consistently missed my mom’s cooking, so I’d videochat with her from time to time and consistently message her every single day. I also wrote letters to my best friends, kind of like a snail mail. It’s nice to hear how they’re doing, and it’s always fun to look forward to receiving something in the mail!
And that’s about it, thanks loves!