A Senior's Guide to Surviving Your First Quarter at Cal Poly

For a lot of freshman the first quarter of college marks an era of newfound freedom and self-discovery. For others, it is the beginning of a new and more difficult period of academia, making friends and adjustment. For everyone however, their first quarter at Cal Poly can be transformative.

For some, this adjustment can go without any difficulties, however there are others who struggle with some aspects of the difficult adjustment, which is perfectly normal. For some of us the adjustment to college is more bad than good, so here is our guide to surviving your first quarter at Cal Poly.


Go to your classes - ALL the time

It can be incredibly tempting as a freshman to ditch your most boring classes. We get it, we all fall into that enticing trap that you too will encounter. However, believe us when we tell you, ditching your classes is a sure-fire way to end up with lower grades. You may not even realize it initially, but by not going to class you are missing out on vital information that either may not be in the reading assigned to you, or may not be intuitive to the class (even if you think the class is a breeze). Go to class, take good notes and study the material, even if you think you know it. College classes are often harder than high school classes, and that realization can be a gut-punch to new freshmen, ESPECIALLY if high school was easy for you. Put in the effort, and winter quarter you will be MUCH happier.


Go to your floor events

We know it may seem cheesy to go to a pizza party on your floor, especially if you don’t know anyone besides your roommate. However, your RAs set up these events specifically for those of you who are feeling a bit lonely and anti-social. Going to your floor events is a great way to meet new people and make new friends! Even if it ends up being kind of lame, your RAs work hard to make the college transition as easy as possible, and setting up floor events is meant to help you make friends. Going to a few of the events will help you get to know people, and who knows you may end up meeting your best friend there.


Talk to your R.A.

As a freshman, you might never expect to be that girl who goes to their RA crying with an issue and no idea how to fix it, but guess what? We've all been there. Your RA might be able to help you through some of the most difficult situations you'll face freshman year. Your RA is going to help you through something, one way or another. RAs are trained to help their residents through a vast amount of different crises, from something as simple as being confused about how to get to a building or to bigger and more serious issues, such as depression and anxiety. They understand how difficult the college transition can be, trust us. Even if you are missing your family and need someone to talk to about it, your RA will be there to listen and help you move forward.


Don’t be afraid to talk to people

This is so important. It’s so easy to get stuck in a situation where you feel like you don’t really need to make friends, or that you are fine with being friends with just people from your WOW group. Don’t get caught in this trap. Making friends is so important to the college experience. A common way to make new friends is to leave your door open on your floor. We know it sounds a bit scary at first, but a lot of the time if people on your floor see your door is open they will knock and introduce themselves. An open door is a nearly universal college dorm sign that you are willing to talk to people. Try keeping your door open sometime during fall quarter. You might just end up meeting someone!


Practice self-care

Self-care is so important in college. It is easy to get stuck in a work-oriented mindset, especially once midterms roll around, and you may be getting too stressed out without even knowing it. If you find yourself constantly feeling on edge, not sleeping, doing poorly in classes and not talking to your friends, you may be too stressed and starting to burn out. Even if it means losing some time for studying or homework, you need to take some time for yourself. It could be something as simple as going to the gym or going off campus and getting dinner, but you need to do something for yourself. You are not doing yourself any favors by getting too stressed out, and winter quarter you will not be happy. If you find yourself getting extremely anxious about things, or you find yourself starting to feel a bit depressed, it might be a good idea to utilize the free counseling services available at the Health Center, even if it means just taking a breather and venting about the big issues to someone, with no judgment.

Your first quarter of college will be one of the most exciting and most challenging times in your life. However, if you take good care of yourself and make sure to practice good habits, you won’t just be surviving your first quarter of college - you’ll be thriving.