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5 Things You Must Know as a College Freshman

Entering college is one of the most terrifying yet exhilarating experiences for almost any college freshman. The beginning of this journey is filled with doubts, fears, and the anticipation to start anew. However, worrying about not making friends at first and balancing a social life with your heavy study load can get in the way of what really matters.

To help gain perspective and relieve that stress, here are 5 key areas of concern and some strategies to consider:

1. Everyone is going through the same thing.

It’s hard to imagine that thousands of people are experiencing the same thing as you – but they truly are. We are all here to find ourselves, grow exponentially, and identify our life’s work. You’re afraid that it will be difficult to forge friendships, worried about your course load, and obsessing over the transition from being in high school and living with your parents, to being completely on your own. 

  • Talk. Sit with another freshman to discuss what you’re both going through and compare notes. You can focus on your social evolution, but also explore the careers you might be considering. I promise that you’ll find more similarities than differences.
  • Read. There is more out there about the college experience than you think. There are some fantastic college blogs that walk you through the experience, from a better dorm room to your first job.

So remember, you’re not alone.

2. Balance your focus with rest and take a break. 

Studying for hours on end is exhausting, and staying up late on the weekends with friends can also drain you. Make sure to take time out of your newly busy schedule to relax and re-focus. It’s important to recognize what you have accomplished so far – even though there is so much in front of you. (You got here, didn’t you?) Accept the challenges this new chapter places in front of you.

  • Change gears. You’d be surprised how many inspiring locations exist on a college campus. From your local coffee shop to a bench overlooking campus – try changing your scenery next time you’re studying, you may be more productive than you anticipated. 
  • Be alone. Not enjoying eating your morning cereal with 300 other people? Take a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy college campus to have meal or read a book on your own. 
  • Relax. With that, treat yourself to a nap, a quick Netflix break, or day of exercise! A few hours to yourself relieves built-up stress and will help you knock out a few more hours of studying later on in the day.
  • Pace. Keep a solid balance between a social life and studying. Going out on the weekends and meeting new people is healthy, and college is a great time to network. However, it’s also important to manage your time wisely so your weekend fun doesn’t get in the way of your studying. 

3. Explore – Your tests do not define you.

You’ve made it this far. You’ve been accepted to college and now you’re approaching finals week. Finals week is extremely stressful for any student, but it’s especially nerve-racking for a first-timer. This week will be filled with energy drinks, study groups, and long nights. 

  • Take a step back. Try to avoid allowing your stress levels to get overbearing. According to the American Psychological Association, stress becomes detrimental to one’s health when it interferes with his or her daily life. 
  • Your finals do not define you.

Take a deep breath, stay focussed, and study hard. You’ll be just fine! 

4. Sleep

College students are notorious for being night owls, but lack of sleep can take a huge toll on your grades and health. Find a study schedule that works for you, and stick to it so you’ll have time to catch some Z’s before your early morning class. Staying awake until 5am on a weekday will not benefit you. In fact, you’ll be more prone to sickness and it’ll be more difficult to stay awake in your classes if you aren’t getting enough sleep. Be sure to take 30 minute naps when you can and get plenty of sleep at night!

5. Go with the flow.

Friend groups will change, your major will change, and you’ll feel uncertain about your decisions at times. College is the best opportunity for a fresh start and learn to go with the flow. Be flexible and open to change! 

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