5 Tips to Survive Freshman Year of College

Whether you're going away to school or staying in your hometown, college is a huge step and not always an easy adjustment. That being said, freshman year comes with a whole new set of dilemmas, along with a few anticipated existential crises, but nothing too crazy. Here are 5 tips to help you survive (and conquer) your first year of college!

 

Keep your family close

One of the hardest things in this transition is just being away from people that you've likely been around your whole life. If you're still living at home, the majority of your friends are likely away at school but you still have your family. On the other hand, when you're somewhere else for school or out-of-state, this is even harder because you know one or two people - if you're lucky. 

That being said, you always have at least one person that you can fall back on for advice and comfort, whether it be a friend from home, family member, or anyone in between. Do not take this person for granted. It's easy to only hit someone up when you want to talk or you need something, but make sure to check in on them too. The best relationships are those with mutual respect and effort.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Haid

This person is super important; after all, you're meeting a ton of new people, and it can be overwhelming at times. When you're feeling like it's too much or you just need to vent, the person you met yesterday in your Biology 101 class may not be the best to spill your soul to just yet. Whatever you do, don't keep your emotions bottled up. People will appreciate you maintaining your relationship with them through college and this close bond is something you'll want to hold onto. 

Stay away from drama

It can be so easy to latch onto the first friends you make at school; they will become familiar the fastest since you'll have known them from day one. On the other hand, you are in a completely new place and this is the time to find your people, as they say. Join clubs, meet people with similar interests as you, if you like someone's shoes in the elevator, let them know! The littlest things can start some pretty great friendships. 

You've likely been stuck with the same people for the past 12 years, if not the last four at least. If you're ready for some new faces, this is exactly the time for that. Likewise, drama is absolutely avoidable in college. Finding mature, like-minded people is not as hard as you might think. Once again though, make sure not to latch on to the first people you meet and give up on everyone else. You and Alex may have been friends since kindergarten and literally couldn't escape one another, but now's your time to blossom.

Find new people that don't stir the pot, while still being interesting to you. Early on, you can usually tell who likes sharing everyone's information and causing conflict - stay away from those people before you get stuck with them.

Focus on a few things and do them well

If you're anything like me, you signed up for 30 different clubs and organizations at your school's club fair. This is impossible to achieve, and you by no means have to do it all. Although college is a great time to branch out and try new things, take this within reason. Taking five classes and doing more than two or three clubs is not easy to manage. If it can be at all avoided, stick to only a few things that you love. Photo courtesy of Melanie Haid

Of course, it's often hard to figure out what you love right off the bat. That's perfectly okay. You don't need to know everything that you want to do. It's okay to quit things that you don't enjoy (and you should) to give yourself more time for school and other things, just like it's also okay to start something new second semester, sophomore year, or whenever you feel like it! It's never too late to join something, especially since you never really know until you try it. I mean, I'm in badminton club now; definitely didn't see that one coming. 

Set up meetings with your professors

One of the best ways to get good grades is for your professor to know who you are. This can be difficult considering class sizes range from 10 to giant lecture halls with hundreds of people. Some of the greatest successes in class come from sitting down and having a conversation with your teacher. This may seem like a tendency of an overachiever (you're right) but it's a very effective way to get your grades up and get on your professor's good side.

This could mean finishing a draft of a paper and having your professor read it over, or even just being productive in class and doing the reading. I mean it's college - half of your peers are sleeping through these four years, so to most of your professors, the fact that you answer their question in class means a lot to them, especially in small classes. Don't be scared to ask questions and engage - making it known that you care about the course will surely benefit your grade. 

Have fun the way you want to

There are lots of different ways you can go out and enjoy your free time in college. That being said, going out seems to be the main college stereotype, but parties aren't for everyone. Believe it or not, partying is not a requirement to graduate. If you want to party, that's great! It's fun and totally a good time, but at the same time, you should never feel pressured to go out if you don't want to. If there's one thing you should have learned from high school, it's that you shouldn't give in to any kind of peer pressure. Photo courtesy of Melanie Haid

Having movie nights with your friends is a great way to spend your Friday nights. Going out to restaurants or the college town around your school is a great idea. You should never feel like you're missing out on the "college experience" if you simply don't want to have it, and your true friends will understand this.

 

While change may be difficult to cope with, whether you're in your old bedroom or a new one across the country, you can do this. No one said that college is easy, but they do say that they're the best years of your life. The biggest thing is not to panic or let yourself get overwhelmed; stay grounded and try new things, and this will ring true. You'll discover people you love, do what you love and before you know it, your first year will fly by and you'll be the experienced one. Trust me - I speak from experience.