Freshman year of college is both exciting and daunting! Often times students are leaving home and experiencing a lot of firsts. Since I work in higher education, the topic of student success is one I am very passionate about. I gathered advice from my higher education colleagues and together we created this guide for making the most of the freshman year of college. It’s also a bit of a survival guide 😉 Each of us have worked with thousands of students and these pieces of advice are something we’ve seen help a student be successful in the long run.
Get university gear.
Before moving to college make sure you get t-shirts and other apparel to represent your university. Once you’re there you will likely get free t-shirts at on campus events! Avoid wearing other university’s apparel and please leave your letterman jacket at home.
Get involved and try something new.
Every single one of the higher education professionals who helped with this post stressed the importance of getting involved and experiencing new things. In college there are new people, ideas, and events. Go to something you think might be interesting or something you have never done before. Start small, like going to a local ice cream shop and trying their craziest flavor ice cream. Go to a cultural event on campus or just say hi to a new person. These little interactions will expose you to a world beyond your circle.
It really doesn’t matter what you get involved in – intramural sports, special interest clubs, academic organizations, church, or community service – all of it helps refine your leadership skills, make friends, find your passion, and will make you more marketable in the long run. Besides, your brain needs a break!
Manage your time, get a planner.
It’s easy to get caught up in the message of your fellow students, student organizations, and events and parties – but academics come first. It’s more beneficial to your development as a student leader to be really involved and committed to two or three student organizations, rather than running around like a mad woman/man to multiple student organizations and being involved at the surface level.
Planners are a god-send, so whether you want to do it the old school paper/pen method or load everything onto your iphone calendar, master this early on. It’ll pay off in the long run, trust me!
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Embrace mistakes and understand the art of moving on. College may be the first time you’re truly on your own and have the opportunity to brand the person you want to be. Know now you cannot perfectly navigate the path of discovering yourself. Failures help you refine what to do better next time and gives you an opportunity to reflect on who/where you want to be. This might be a foreign concept to a college freshman because the whole self-discovery, identity process is just getting started. However, having that advice instilled in you from the beginning will help you bounce back from whatever challenge or road block you face. Remember the comeback is always bigger than the setback!
Know when to ask for help.
While it is important to be self-sufficient, university faculty and staff understand that asking for help is not a weakness. If you are struggling in the classroom, take time to visit with your professor before or after class or during their office hours. They may go over course content with you or are able to point you in the direction of resources such as tutoring or study groups. Many universities offer tutoring services for free. If you struggle with time management or testing, there are likely resources on your campus to help master these. Mental and emotional wellness is important also, see the next piece of advice regarding counseling.
Utilize health and wellness resources.
Utilize the wellness, health, and fitness resources you’re likely already paying for in fees! This includes the gym or rec center on campus, which houses exercise equipment, physical fitness trainers, group classes, and swimming pools. This also includes the on-campus dining hall that, in this day and age, provide daily healthy options/alternatives to eating. This can also be the counseling center for mental and emotional well-being. Counselors on staff provide guidance regarding things like substance use/abuse, overcoming social challenges, having support through academic stresses, etc.
On campus student employment.
If possible, seek a student worker employment opportunity. Being a student worker is great because you are a STUDENT first and a worker second. Your work schedule is designed around your class schedule. It gives you some money in your pocket and is usually located conveniently enough that you can walk to work. Plus you learn a lot about the inner workings of your university! This alone has some benefits.
Start your alumni network now.
Once you graduate (I know it seems like a long time from now, but college goes quick.), you want to have a solid network of professionals who can serve as references on job applications and mentors. It’s never too early to start making these connections through class, organizations, and work. Get plugged into the university’s student alumni association. Your university more than likely hosts alumni events, look into being a volunteer. You never know what alumni you may meet that has the perfect job for you when you graduate!
Overall, have fun! With everything going on around you, take time to soak it all in. Enjoy the late night adventures looking for Oreos on a run to Walmart, the spur of the moment road trips, and the all nighters spent talking with friends. You will miss these times when they are gone or when you can’t stay up past 10 p.m. lol
Shout out to my amazing higher ed friends for their help!
Brittany B., Stephen F. Austin State University | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
April C., Texas Christian University
Kalyn C., Texas A&M University | Twitter
Javier G., Texas State University
Jordan G., University of Houston-Downtown
Lorie P., Prairie View A&M University
Have questions about surviving your freshman year of college? Leave them in the comments. I’m happy to answer them! Until next post…xoxo Becca