As a freshman, or perhaps the parent of one, you probably have a lot of questions (and fears, hopes, and dreams, too!) Everyone that goes to college does – it’s normal to be shy, afraid, overly ambitious, or completely overwhelmed by the unknown. So we decided to ask some of your fellow upperclassmen their advice for college freshmen – what they wish they knew going into their first year, what they wish they had been told, what would have eased those first few days and weeks for them.
They went through the same internal dialogue that’s probably been playing on a non-stop loop since you started school: What will my roommate be like? How will I manage all my classwork? Will I have time to socialize? How am I going to balance a job on the weekends? Do I really have to get up at 8 a.m.?
In no particular order, the answers are yes, no, maybe, sure, great, and absolutely. But don’t take our word for it. Herein, some sage advice from sophomores, juniors, and seniors who once stood in your overwhelmed shoes.
A Skill Can Become a Passion
“You can never ask too many questions, and you never know when someone’s advice turns out to influence your entire career track. I once talked to an adviser who suggested I should work on my writing skills, and once I started writing for the school newspaper, a whole new world of media opened up to me. I learned so much more than what I expected from a job that I would never have looked into on my own.”
– Lin Lan Sophomore at Rutgers University, Economics Major. Follow her blog at Honest Inklings
Express Yourself & Explore More
“Get involved on campus early on. Every college is bound to have an activity or club that interests you, and if not, then you can easily start one yourself. College is a perfect time and place to express who you truly are.”
– Joe Dooney Sophomore at Arcadia University, Mathematics Major. Follow him on Twitter
Failure Is (Sometimes) the Key to Success
“Try everything. This is the time to explore everything you’ve ever been interested in. What your high school advisors failed to tell you was that most people take more than 4 years to graduate college now. So don’t feel confined to the four-year box and don’t feel like you have to know what to do with your life when you start school. Really take the time to figure out your true passions and how to use them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because now is the time to do it.”
– Courtney Watson Senior at University of Kentucky, Nursing Major
Get Out & Get Moving
“Go all-in. Take the time to really engage with this new community where you’ve chosen to spend some of the most meaningful years of your life. That means getting out of your room, going to student performances, going to class and office hours, and being proactive about meeting people. Also be somewhat cognizant of your eating and exercise patterns. A lot of first-year college students fail to do this, and end up overindulging at the dining halls and drinking all sorts of beverages on weekends without making a point to get some exercise. The “Freshman 15” is real. Putting a few hours at the rec center into your schedule each week could make all the difference, and while it might be hard to stay motivated as the year rolls on, you’ll feel a lot better if you stick with it.”
– Thomas Hiura Sophomore at Carleton College, Undeclared. Follow his blog at Gradient Music
Your Clean Slate Starts Now
“When I went to college I felt obligated to not only like my roommate but be best of friends. Don’t expect everyone to be like the people you were friends with in high school. Same goes for yourself, don’t feel obligated to be the same person you were in high school if you want to change. It’s a clean slate – no one knows you and you can be your true self.”
– Ally Murray Junior at the University of Rhode Island, Psychology & Criminology Major
Study Your Way
“Organize your time wisely. As much as we would like to enjoy our younger years, remember what you’re there for. Spend quality time with friends but also work hard towards getting that degree. Figure out what your study habit is right away, whether it’s studying by yourself or with a group of people. Maybe you’ll use notecards or maybe you’re better off just reading the material.”
– Chelsea Riggleman Senior at Gannon University, Nursing Major
Put Yourself First
“It’s not about how you change a place; it’s about how you change your interactions with it. If it means taking care of your physical health, do that. Sleep. Eat. Exercise. Shower. Sleep. If it means taking care of your emotional health, do that. Reach out to people when you need it. Asking for help is a sign of strength!”
– Susie Paul Junior at Williams College, Chemistry & Sociology Major. Follow her photo project “Humans of Williams”
Timing is Everything
“It is in fact possible to maintain a social life and good grades, the secret is time management. We all procrastinate, but I discovered during my first year of college that by doing a little bit of studying, a project, or a paper that needs to be done every day gives you the opportunity to still have a social life in the end. Make a schedule for yourself every day that includes set times for school work and free time for friends and relaxing to balance your personal and educational obligations.”
– Tyler Giampa Sophomore at Arcadia University, Corporate Communications Major. Follow him on Twitter
This post originally ran on 9/3/14.