9 Tips to Survive Your Freshman Year in College
You made it! All of those hours of studying, writing papers, taking exams, and keeping up with all of your extracurriculars finally paid off and you have arrived on campus! Many people say that their college years were the best in their life. But that doesn’t mean that the first year isn’t scary, lonely, and confusing sometimes too. Believe it or not, as many as 1 in 3 students drop out in the first year. We do not want you to be one of them! Read on to see how to make your freshman year an amazing start to your college career.
1. Don’t stress about making friends
Freshman year in college is really unique because everybody is the new kid! Don’t be afraid to ask someone from your floor or from class to join you for lunch or study date. She won’t think you’re weird. Chances are, she’s feeling lonely too and will be grateful for the invitation.
2. Feel free to reinvent yourself
Were you a drama nerd in high school? Soccer star? Class president? Homecoming queen? Don’t be afraid to branch out now that you’re in college. Cliques don’t really exist in college the way they did in high school, so there is much more freedom to be yourself. Nobody knows who you were, so this is a great time to try new things and figure out who you are now!
3. Join a club (or three!)
If it exists, you can bet there is a group for it! Don’t be afraid to check out some of the activities going on around campus, even if they sound cheesy. It’s a great way to meet people and try new hobbies. I fell in love with swing dancing, Thai kickboxing, and surf club when I was college. Seriously, where else can you learn to do all of this stuff?
4. Make friends with upperclassmen
Don’t feel like a dork making friends with older students. They remember what is was like being a freshman and upperclassmen in college are much nicer than they were in high school. They can give you great advice about classes, schedules, professors, and the coolest places to go. I actually emailed my orientation guide the first week when I didn’t have anyone else to hang out with. Total loser move? Probably, but he turned out to be really cool and I stayed close with him and his group of friends all the way through graduation.
5. Don’t be afraid to bring up roommate issues
For most people, college is the first time they’ve had to share a room. There’s a good chance that your roommate doesn’t realize that she’s bothering you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say it to her face, not on a post-it note. It’s not mean. You’re just letting her know what you need to feel comfortable in your new home. While you’re at it, ask her if there is anything you do that bothers her. She’s probably afraid to speak up too!
6. Don’t stress over your major
It’s okay if you aren’t sure what you want to be when you grow up right now. Core classes don’t really start until Junior year, so try out a few different fields. Now is a great time to get your basic requirements out of the way and take some intro classes to see what you really like. I noticed that my favorite courses (Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Criminology) had a theme, so ended up changing my major from Aerospace Engineering to Psychology (Goodbye, Calculus!). It was a drastic change, but I’m glad I did it because I love my job and I’m still using my degree 15 years later.
7. Take care of yourself
Freedom! You can finally eat whatever you want, go anywhere with whoever you want, and stay up all night, so why not do it? Because sadly, there are still consequences, even if it’s not getting grounded! Try to eat some real food once in awhile, keep up with your class work, be smart when you go out, and get some sleep. Feeling like crap, failing tests, and finding yourself in sketchy situations is not fun.
8. Find a personal sanctuary
It can be fun having so many people around and so much to do, but sometimes you’ll just need some alone time. And privacy can be hard to come by, especially if you’re living on campus. Explore your new town and find a peaceful place you can go to when you just need some quiet time. My favorite place was a random picnic table I found in a quiet clearing in the woods near my dorm.
9. Recognize when you need to ask for help
It is completely normal to feel scared, overwhelmed, confused, lonely, and homesick. Starting college is a huge life change. But if it’s been a few months and you still feel like you haven’t adjusted yet, it might be time to ask for some help. Try the counseling center on campus or talk to your parents about seeing a private counselor. Don’t feel like you have to solve this problem on your own.
College will probably be some of the most fun, scary, and exciting years in your life. You will meet new people, try new things, and learn more than you ever thought possible. You worked really hard to get here so make sure to enjoy it!