My sophomore year is officially coming to a close in just about 3 weeks. It is absolutely crazy how fast time flies in college, and from what I’ve heard, it will only go by faster. It feels like just yesterday was orientation week, back when we were all still awkward and still a little nervous, getting used to the new environment we were likely to spend our next four years in. Now, here we are, and here I am, sitting in the SPA writing an article for Her Campus, thinking about all of the work I have to cram into the next couple weeks before school ends. While feeling busy and a little extra sentimental that I won’t be back on this campus again until next Spring, admitted students day made me reflect on my first year of college. Here are a few tips I came up with that I thought I might share with you rising first-years:
1. Meet EVERYONE, branch out!
Everyone is looking for a friend. I remember someone telling me this coming into college, and of course it’s a little scary and uncomfortable at first to force yourself to meet new people, but it goes a long way. Everyone is nervous, and we are all looking to find our place. And don’t forget, no one knows anyone yet. We all get a fresh start, so whatever box you molded yourself into in high school, set yourself free! Be the person you want to be, and find the people you want to be with. Meet as many people as you can because you never know who your closest friends might be!
2. Distribution requirements
Get them over with! You might end up liking one of them, or you might take a distribution requirement class for a major you thought you wanted to pursue and find out it’s actually not for you. I came in thinking I wanted to be a bio major, but took the first course and found out I hated 3 hour labs. I took an introductory computer science class, which satisfied a natural science requirement, thinking I would hate it based on my terrible experience in high school, but ended up loving it so much I considered majoring in it! Also, by getting your distribution requirements out of the way, you can test yourself and see what area you like most. This can help you decide on your major especially if you are coming in undecided. It will also give you the time and space to focus on all your classes for your major or minor if you’ve already decided on it for the following years.
3. Talk to people
Hear people’s stories. Learn about where they are from. You become connected with the environment you are in and the people you are with when you communicate with them and share moments that made you think differently about the world, culture, people, and places. Having meaningful conversations go a long way in supporting your well-being as well as bringing yourself closer with other people in your community. It helps create a support system for yourself and for others, which will come in handy when you most need it.
4. Really rely on your professors, CAs, and upperclassmen
Use the resources around you, they’re there to help you. Rely on the people who know more about the school. It’s OK not to know, it’s your first year here, and it’s OK to feel stressed and to miss home. Trust me, everyone’s been through it. But don’t forget there are people here to support you! Friends down the hall, people you meet in class, CAs, etc. I met a senior during my first year who gave me advice for lot of the experiences I had or might have. Knowing she was there for me and what to expect, I felt more comfortable in this new college environment.
5. Be open-minded…
…to anything and everything. You are in a new environment, with new people who come from different backgrounds and experiences with different stories to tell, who have different opinions about what is right and wrong. Don’t limit yourself to your high school experiences. Take the chance to hear a new opinion, attend a random talk about a topic you never heard about before, become friends with people who you might not have interacted with in high school. College is a fresh start. Take advantage of that.
Enjoy your freshman year. Be receptive to new ideas and experiences. It’s better not to have expectations coming in, because that leaves you open to take new risks, encounter new challenges, meet new people, grow, make the memories that will last forever. Make the most of every moment. Be present. And work hard, but don’t forget to have fun! :)