Freshman year of college can be both exciting and unbelievably daunting at the same time. Not only do you experience the first day of school jitters, but you're also coping with leaving home and entering a completely new world of almost-adulthood. From tackling time management to making sure I stayed hydrated, there are so many things I wish I knew about freshman year of college.
I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, always surrounded by my family and close community, so when I was the only person from my high school who chose to go to college in Boston, I was about to start a completely new life away from everything I was familiar with. I didn't even have a close reference to guide me. My parents both went to school in the Philippines, and my older sister attended a school in my hometown, so I was the first person in my family really going after the American tradition of leaving the nest.
College is a scary and thrilling experience all at once. These can absolutely be the best years of your life. Here are some tips and tricks I wish I knew as a freshman, that'll hopefully guide you through this new chapter.
1. Use Your Professors As Key Resources
Professors can be pretty intimidating when you first start college. For starters, you're supposed to call them "professors," and that word alone is enough to strike fear into even the most studious pupils.
Something I learned later into my first semester is how much your professors want you to succeed. They're there to offer their help, and they love when students take advantage of their knowledge. So head to an office hour or tutoring session, and never hesitate to reach out.
2. It's Totally OK To Call Your Parents When You Miss Them
I remember thinking that, if I called my parents, it would mean that I was unable to figure things out for myself. Obviously, that's not the case, and avoiding calling them resulted in me missing them terribly.
It's OK to be homesick, and you're allowed to need help every once in a while. No one wants to help you more than your parents do, so swallow your pride and don't be afraid to ask your mom if it's OK to mix your jeans and your whites in the wash. (It's not, by the way.)
3. The First Friends You Make Won't Be Your Only Close Friends
I immediately befriended a few people who lived on my floor in my dorm, and at first, we were inseparable. We spent every second together, from meals in the caf to late-night movie marathons. I quickly found myself getting bored, because it seemed like we all just hung out with each other, and we never met anyone else.
I decided to take a leap of faith and sit with a random group of people I had only met in passing during lunch one day, and that impulsiveness actually gave me the friend group that stuck with me through the rest of college and beyond.
It's normal to latch onto the first people that you meet, but remember that you can always choose to explore other friend groups, too.
4. Living A Healthy Lifestyle Is So Important
College can be a time when you eat a ton of ramen noodles and stay up late in your dorm studying for exams, but be sure you're taking care of yourself. Fresh fruits, vegetables, sleep, and drinking lots of water are some of the best things you can do for yourself. And regardless of how hard you work, be sure to get outside and breath in some fresh air. Recharge after a long day of classes by taking a walk with some friends or relax in the quad. You'll work super hard during the next four years, but deserve some quality "me time" as well.
5. Learn How To Manage Your Time Well
When I first got to school, I tried to remember every class and meeting in my head. You can only imagine how poorly that went. I was always late, forgetting things, and was never really on top of my schedule the way I wanted to be.
If you're not already, try to get into some kind of system for scheduling. The day I discovered the Calendar app on my MacBook was the day I became an adult. Seriously. The app made it possible for me to manage my schedule more efficiently in order to take time with the things I needed, and to cut out the things I didn't.
Whether you use a calendar app, written to-do lists, bullet journals, or some hybrid of those, finding a time management system that works for you will revolutionize how you go about your daily life.
6. Don't Be Afraid To Say "No" To Plans
A lot of people will tell you to "make the most of your time" in school. If you're anything like me, you might interpret that to mean that you need to say "yes" to every single opportunity that comes your way. During my freshman year, I believed that how packed my schedule was directly related to how successful I was.
When I got to school, I immediately picked up a retail side job as well as two different work-study jobs on campus. On top of a full class load, I committed to a bunch of activities that required late-night rehearsals. I barely slept, and spent most of my second semester of college perpetually running late.
At a certain point, I realized that I had to start turning down opportunities in order to make time for myself. Once I did, my performance in every aspect of my life significantly improved, and I didn't feel nearly as overwhelmed.
7. Don't Forget To Have Fun
At the risk of sounding cliché, YOLO. You only live your first undergrad experience once, so don't forget to soak it all in and really enjoy yourself. That can mean exploring your new college town or city, or staying in with friends and a board game.
College is a special time in your life when you have a chance to grow into yourself as a person and learn a lot of new things. And even though freshman year might seem scary now, it'll be one of the most memorable years of your life.