Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Carmiya
Advice I Would Give To My College Freshman Self #PandiaBack2School
For those of you out there who are starting university in the fall away from home, you probably have a million questions and are freaking out a little bit about dorm life, the dining commons, living away from your family, etcetera. College is a whirlwind of an experience and it is completely normal for you to be a little lost right now. Even as a senior, I’m still kinda lost, sad, excited (ALL THE FEEEELS!) and I’m not sure if I’m ready to graduate. What I do know is that before I leave, I want to impart some lessons I’ve learned along the way in the hopes that it’ll help you as you begin your college journey; maybe someday you’ll get the same opportunity to pass it forward onto someone else, too!
The first piece of advice I want to give — and this is a bonus because the list hasn’t even started yet! — is to breathe. It might sound silly because, like, yeah, everyone needs oxygen to live. But what I really mean is to take a few deep breaths whenever you begin to feel anxious and remember that everything works out exactly as it is supposed to. (Click here to learn more about breathing exercises for anxiety!) Allow yourself to grow on your own time and in your own way. Alright, enough chit-chat. Let’s do this!
1. Accept that your first quarter/semester class schedule isn’t going to be that great.
As a freshman, you get the worst course registration times meaning you probably won’t get into the classes you want right away. It’s totally ok! Everyone goes through this — even my mom, who went to school centuries ago. My advice is to either stick with the classes and do your best (they’re probably all GEs anyway) or you can crash the course you actually want, talk to the professor after class on the first day and tell him/her/them that you are waitlisted or crashing, and then keep attending until you get in. Depending on the popularity of the class and the lenience of the professor, you may or may not get in. Either way, keep your head up; you’re only in the class for a few months anyway and then you can say goodbye to it forever!
2. Attend every club fair
Even if you go to a smaller university, there are bound to be hundreds of clubs to choose from. You might be feeling overwhelmed by all the choices but that just means you have a ton of options to try out and determine which one sparks your interest the most! If you’re the type of person who likes to be busy, taking on a lot of extracurricular activities is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the college experience, meet new people, and learn more about yourself! Click here for 5 Reasons to Join a Club in College by HuffPost. (Pro tip: try not to spread yourself too thin! Your top priority is school so if you find yourself sacrificing your study time for outside commitments, you might need to take a step back and reconsider your priorities especially to make sure your mental and physical health aren’t in jeopardy)
3. Hang with your professor in office hours
Okay, this might sound weird but it’s actually really important! Think about it: your professor doesn’t have time to learn every student’s name in a lecture hall of 500 kids. Whether it’s to get help with the material, discuss career paths, or chat about that obscure TV show you both like, office hours are an excellent way to stand out amidst a sea of students! Plus, you might get a letter of recommendation out of it ?
4. Go to a frat party
I know, not the tip you’d think would pop up here, huh? I’m not saying you should necessarily go to a frat party (once is enough to get it out of your system) but I would recommend partying a little bit to see if you like it. Whether you partied or not in high school, you’re going to have different experiences at college. If you plan on drinking, make sure you are with people you trust and KNOW YOUR LIMITS. If you didn’t see our blog on staying healthy & safe in college, click here to read it before you attend your first frat party! There is nothing more annoying (and frankly, scary) than drinking to the point of oblivion especially if the people you came with are not willing to help you get home. HerCampus wrote an awesome Freshman Girl’s Guide to Frat Parties. Check it out for some more frat party tips!
5. Text your orientation buddy on move-in day
I’m just gonna say it: move-in is SO stressful! Everyone is anxious about starting a new school year at a new place with new people and your family is getting all up in your business and your new roommate is moving in at the same time as you and HER family is driving her crazy. Yeah, it’s a lot. But, once everyone leaves, you might feel sorta… empty. Sure, there will still be a lot going on (on my first night, I went to the first soccer game of the year with my hallmates I had just met) but you’ll probably feel a little homesick for your own bed, your family, your friends. If you’re alone the first few days, that is completely okay! It takes time to adjust. If you don’t want to be alone, though, I’d recommend reaching out to a buddy you met at orientation. Most everyone meets someone at orientation who may end up being one of your closest friends or someone you never see again. But whether you got an orientation buddy or not, getting someone’s number beforehand can make you feel more confident and less scared about starting the upcoming school year.
I hope these tips helped you and you feel more ready to conquer your freshman year of college! Your four (hopefully LOL) years at university will FLY BY — I know everyone says that but you don’t realize until you’re a junior sitting in one of your last classes right before summer break and you’re like… I’m a senior at the end of this year. So, please, enjoy it while it lasts and have the best time ever. Go kill it, girl!
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The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.