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From making new friends to keeping up with classes—starting your freshman year of college is terrifying and exciting. Learning to figure out who you are and what you want your future to look like can be incredibly overwhelming (trust me, I know). Hopefully, these few tips might give you a better idea of how to navigate your new life.

1. everyone is just as scared as you are.

The first thing you need to realize is that you are not alone. Freshman year is lonely and difficult, but the worst part about it is no one talks about it. Everyone around you is trying just as hard to fit in and be a part of something. This is a new environment for all the people in your incoming class, and while some people might be coming in knowing more people than others, pressures to branch out a create a new community still exist. Aside from the creation of new relationships, the academic pressure to achieve in a higher learning environment is weighing on the person next to you in class as much as it’s weighing on you. So, take a breath and relax. You are not alone in your fear or your loneliness.

2. your hometown friend group is not the end-all-be-all.

I know it’s comforting to stay with what you know, but don’t let that prevent you from branching out and meetingpeople that can change your life. College is filled with people from hundreds of different places, and you might find common ground with the people you least expect. I met my best friends my sophomore year—the middle part between leaving my high school friend group was difficult. It was lonely and just all around not a good time, but it paid off. I met a group of girls I know will be in my life for years to come, and I could not be happier. So, trust me when I say—branch out! I promise you won’t regret it. What’s the worst that can happen?

3. go. to. class.

I cannot stress this enough. I know after being forced to go to school for 12 years straight, the idea of optional attendance might seem like the most appealing thing in the world. No matter how much your professor stresses how optional attendance is for their class, do your best to attend all your lectures. Creating relationships with professors and keeping up with your class material is just as important as getting involved in social settings and getting enough sleep. Don’t fall behind! You will regret it sooner than you think. You are also paying for this education—don’t waste your money on something you refuse to participate in.

4. get involved in anything and everything you can.

I know, you’ve heard this a million times before. But I will say this until I’m blue in the face—getting involved is the best way to meet new people. I met some of my closest friends through school-sponsored organizations. The memories I’ve made with these people have changed my life in ways I couldn’t even imagine a year ago—specifically if it wasn’t for Her Campus, my life would not be what it is today. Take my word for it, join anything you are interested in because that’s the best way to find people you relate to, and who knows, maybe you’ll find friends you know will last a lifetime.

5. do what you want – responsibly.

If you take anything from this article, let it be this. College is a time in your life where you discover who you are and what you want to be. This is your time to be independent and live your life the way you want to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t enjoy—if it’s safe, of course. Discover what you like, figure out your favorite hobbies, all while keeping in mind your priorities and your education.

College is an incredible experience, take advantage of it while you can. It can be hard at first but creating a new environment that you’re comfortable in is the first step towards being successful in your college career. At the end of the day, though, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just make sure you’re doing your best to try something new. You’ve got this, trust me.

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My name is Paola Gonzalez, I’m a senior at FSU majoring in Political Science and Psychology. Some things i am passionate about is racial justice, acceptance, mental health awareness and political involvement! :)
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