Surviving Your First Year of College

I remember my freshman year move-in day so clearly- tears, tears, and more tears. Although I couldn’t wait to start a new journey and make my own decisions, I had no idea what to expect as I am the first in my family to attend college. I felt as prepared as I could’ve been after my “extensive Google research,” but little did I know my freshman year would bring some of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. 

As I navigated each semester, I eventually found what works for me and how to overcome struggles when it comes to meeting friends, surviving classes, and living on my own. 

Living on Your Own Isn’t Always as Expected

While I packed up my life into eight boxes, I realized how excited I was to move out and be on my own since I lived in a rural area my whole life. After my parents left and I settled into the dorm with my roommate, we ventured around campus to get used to our new home. Although move-in week flew by, the first week of classes came around the corner and I began to lose my mind. After numerous crying sessions, phone calls with my mom and rants to my roommate and suitemates, I began to get used to living on campus and soon developed a routine to help me adapt to campus. 

Long story short, living on campus has its perks and downfalls at first. After living at home for 18 years with our families, it is definitely a difficult transition as we learn to navigate our new (and expensive) home and not get lost. Although I struggled the first couple weeks, I came to LOVE living on campus. In fact, my favorite part of freshman year was staying at Mason (until COVID-19 came.) You experience so many late nights, laughs, and memories with your friends that will resonate with you forever. If you have the option, I 100% recommend living at your university.

Related: Living on Campus: What to Expect

Classes Can Be a Pain in the Butt

The first week of classes is really deceiving to say the least- you go over syllabi and essentially learn more about everyone in your class with ice breakers. After weeks begin to tick by, classes will easily sneak up to you. Professors often do not remind students of due dates, so it’s important to either print out each syllabus or create a schedule. For me, I managed most of my classes really well as I learned how to maintain a workload and study early on, except for one. 

Anatomy and Physiology with lab- the class that made me have an emotional breakdown every week. Safe to say, I quickly found out I’m not a science person after I got a 35% on the bone practical, which is basically labeling every bone in the human body. This isn’t to scare you away; it’s to show that some college classes are more challenging than we are used to and take more time to adapt. If I were to retake the class (I selectively withdrew from anatomy as I changed my major), I would find a tutor to explain concepts to me repeatedly and spend more time studying. Some classes do require more time and work, but you will eventually overcome the barrier and thrive.

Related: How to Plan the Perfect Class Schedule

You Might Change Your Major, and That’s Perfectly FINE

Throughout high school, I took numerous health and medical classes and had my mind set on majoring in Kinesiology to eventually transfer to a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. As I mentioned earlier, I quickly found within a couple months that I’m not a science person as I didn’t enjoy classes relating to Kinesiology and HATED anatomy.

With that being said, I decided it would be best for me to switch my major. That night, I sat down with my friends and had a conversation about different majors as we scrolled through a list of studies at Mason. I knew I always enjoyed writing and certain aspects of marketing and eventually settled on Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and minor in Journalism. After I officially switched and began communication classes, I had never felt more relieved as I actually enjoyed my classes.

Although you may find that your current major isn’t right for you, it’s perfectly fine to switch to a different field of study. I’ve met numerous students that changed their major within their first year and don’t regret it. Sometimes, you need to do what’s best for you and your future as we live and learn in college.

Find Your “People”

Throughout my first semester, the only friends I had were my roommate and suitemates. We all became so close that we are practically sisters now. As time went on and the girls would go home each weekend, I craved more friends as I needed more people to hang out with when my roommate and suitmates were gone. Although I didn’t make more friends until the spring semester, I quickly found my people as I became more involved with social media. Basically, social media allowed me to connect with other students living on campus.

After connecting with other students, I found myself in a better mental state as I had more individuals to study and eat with. Additionally, joining campus organizations not only allows you to network with people in your area of study, but also lets you become more involved with the campus environment!

Although I did have my ups and downs throughout my first year, I grew more as a student and individual. I found a major I’m passionate about, created lifelong friendships, and learned to live on my own. My freshman year will always hold a special place in my heart.