10 Things I Learned During My First Semester of College

College is a really cool, transformative period of time. It’s a lot of fun, but it's not always easy (especially when you have midterms or exams). Here are ten of the lessons I’ve learned from my first semester of college.

  1. 1. Making friends isn’t instant, but you'll find great people.

    Going into my freshman year, I knew that it would take me a bit of time to make good friends, and I was right. There were definitely days that I felt lonely or didn’t have anyone to hang out with, but everyone feels that way sometimes. Be open to meeting new people, and you will eventually make awesome friends!

  2. 2. Sometimes, it's hard to understand professors’ expectations, so make sure to ask questions.

    One of the most difficult aspects of transitioning to college classes for me was figuring out what my professors wanted from me on projects. Professors often give vague directions on assignments, essays, or group projects. This helps you learn to be self-sufficient, but I would recommend working on assignments ahead of time so you have a chance to ask questions if you need to do so.

  3. 3. Flexibility is important.

    I’ve found that, in college, plans get scheduled and canceled and rescheduled and changed much more often than they did at home. Because you’re in such close proximity with friends, you don’t need to make plans far in advance. This is hard for me because I like knowing exactly what I’m going to be doing, but I’ve definitely learned to be more adaptable and willing to follow along with what others want to do.

  4. 4. Be spontaneous. 

    Similar to being flexible, it’s important to be spontaneous in college. I’ve made a lot of fun memories so far because I came up with a random idea and went through with it, which I never used to do. One night, I was playing cards with a few friends, and it was weirdly cold outside, but we decided at 10:45 pm to go get ice cream before Spill the Beans closed at 11, and I’m really glad we did.

  5. 5. Balancing time with friends and time doing work is difficult.

    I had to put in a lot of time and effort to bond with my friends here at Clemson. Once I became closer to people on my hall, it was much harder for me to pull myself away to work on essays or assignments in my own space. I’m still figuring out how to balance my time, but always make sure you’re making time both for schoolwork and for having fun.

  6. 6. You’re going to get lost a lot, but that’s okay.

    Finding buildings on or near campus is a journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions and plan extra time to get to class or meetings in case you do get lost!

  7. 7. You have to get creative with dining hall food.

    Before I was in college and eating in the dining hall 24/7, I didn’t understand why college students complained constantly about the food -- but now I’m sick of it myself. Being creative with ingredients around the dining hall helps. You can make a quesadilla out of a wrap and cheese or panini press a hamburger to change it up.

  8. 8. You have to study for exams early!

    In college, there’s less daily homework than in high school, but exams require much more preparation. I’m guilty of procrastinating on studying, but I highly recommend studying ahead of time so you have the chance to go to office hours and get help with concepts you don’t understand.

  9. 9. Comparing yourself to other people never helps.

    Every college student has unique goals and is on their own path, so you should never compare what you’re doing to what someone else has done. If you experience failure, know that there are amazing older students who have also failed a few times. Work hard and allow yourself to explore instead of stressing about being the best.

  10. 10. Take care of yourself and have some fun!

    Mental health is really important in college – allow yourself to take breaks and have fun with your friends instead of studying 24/7. Make sure you try to exercise and eat healthy foods, and caring for your health and happiness should be your first priority. If you’re feeling great, college will be a much better experience overall!