As my freshman year at college comes to an end, I thought it would be helpful to reflect on my time and what I have learned so that those starting at a university soon will be better prepared. So here are five pieces of great advice that I wish someone had given me when I started college.
1. Get involved and take advantage of the opportunities your college has. It can be hard to make lasting friendships in college. A lot of times I’ve been able to befriend a couple of people in my classes, but it only lasts for a semester. Once you no longer have that class together, you both become increasingly busy and are on different schedules. And college is so much to handle that you need to have those people you can turn to when you get down. Find a club that you are interested in and go for it.
Explore your options- especially at the beginning of the semester when everybody is trying to get to know people and find their group. It can be harder to meet people in a club or class the further along into the school year.
Some colleges are now offering a program called Freshmen Interest Group (or FIG for short.) If you don’t know what a FIG is, its when your college groups you with a number of other kids that are interested in what you are interested in and you take a few classes all together. I was in one first semester and I’m really grateful that I decided to take one. It became so much easier to make friends and we all had to take a one credit class once a week that taught us about different opportunities on college. The class was cool, but the people I got to know were cooler.
2. Go to class. Like seriously, just go to class. In many college classes you have the option of whether or not you can attend or skip class. When your teacher doesn’t take attendance or only uses a clicker for extra credit, it can be really tempting to stay in bed and sleep a little longer. And while I do think that it is important for you to put your health and needs first, attending class is half the battle. The information you will be learning will probably be a little more difficult than what you are used to, so it is good to pay attention and take some notes. I’ve been surprised a couple of times this year when I have taken a test and done really well on it simply from remembering that we talked about the subject in class.
Also, regularly attending class is respecting your teacher and their time. Now, with that being said, life isn’t just school. Remember to balance order in your life and make some time for yourself and what you need. At the end of the day, you’re going to remember going to the late night basketball game your team won three minutes into overtime more than you are going to remember studying for a test.
3. Rooming with your best friend is totally doable. Oh my goodness, really? We’re still friends after living with each other for two semesters? Yes, we are, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times Moe (my roommate/bestie) and I get that kind of response when we tell people we are living with each other. The myth that you can’t room with your best friend is not always true. Of course, though, perhaps in more cases than not it can be. It can be done, but be aware of the fact that there might be a change in the dynamic of your relationship with your bestie.
Now that we live together, Moe and I have realized that we’ve grown used to constantly seeing each other at the dorm. So it can be harder for us to get quality time to grow in our friendship. I think this will change next year when we aren’t living together, but this can take a toll on friendships. I’m incredibly lucky that we have been able to room together and have it work out so well. We have similar standards and visions for our dorm that make it easy to work. This is essential to making your living space compatible with anyone, but especially when rooming with your best friend because it can make or break a friendship.
4. Learn to manage your time well. Time management skills are so necessary and helpful to have in college. The work from your classes are going to add up fast so it is important to give yourself the time needed to complete and do well on an assignment. Try not to procrastinate as much as possible. I’m a Type A person and that means that I can forget to see things from the bigger picture and I can get worked up easily about schoolwork. But that has changed a lot since college. Even though I am a full time student and I have a part time job, I’ve been able to take a lot of the potential stress and breakdowns away just by doing a little bit of work each day.
School and work can get pretty overwhelming but by getting to know what kind of a learner you are, you can save yourself a lot of frustration later. And college is about getting to know yourself, so don’t stress too much if you don’t already know the best way for you to learn or what you want to study. This is the time for you to figure that out and just learn more about yourself.
5. Call your parents. Or your sibling, aunt, whoever has been your rock in the past. Call them and keep them updated on your life. You don’t have to move across the country for your parents or your person to worry about you. And when you’re in college, it can be easy to get caught up in the busyness of your schedule. But it’s important to take time to reconnect with those who you aren’t constantly around you anymore. And these people will appreciate receiving a call from you and trying to stay in touch with them so much.
Let me know if you have any advice for the incoming class in the comments below!
“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9