A Freshman's Survival Guide to Life on Campus

Starting freshman year at your new college or university can be intimidating. You are faced with so many new opportunities and experiences that it can be overwhelming. It’s the next big step in your life, as you leave home for the first time and adjust to life on campus. You have to learn how to balance time between classes, homework, friends, and extracurriculars.

There are definitely quite a few things I wish I had known going into my freshman year. Regardless, you will learn a lot along the way, and you will certainly make mistakes. However, college is about finding yourself, and you should do what you think is best for you and your own unique experience.


Don’t Go into College with a High School Relationship

I know you’re “in love,” and “want to make it work,” but trust me, it’s not worth it. I went into my freshman year with a boyfriend from home, and it didn’t end well. It worked for a little while, but then I realized that I was missing out on dating someone who had similar interests and goals. You really change and evolve over the course of freshman year. You realize a lot of new things about yourself, especially because you’re experiencing a new-found freedom that you didn’t have in high school. That being said, if you are in a relationship, don’t let it be the deciding factor for everything that you do at school. Be open to making new friends, including both guys and girls. If you’re dating someone who doesn’t go to your school, try not to visit every weekend. You don’t want to miss out on all of the fun things that your friends might be doing.

Try Not to Take Super Early or Super Late Classes

I know that high school classes start much earlier than in college, but morning classes in college are a little more difficult to get through. Especially as a freshman, you’ll probably be trying to get involved in activities on campus, hanging out with friends late at night, and pulling all-nighters to write last-minute papers. I like taking classes that start around 9:00-9:35 am, and getting out of class no later than 4:00 pm. That leaves you with time to do extracurriculars and get your homework done.  


If You Have a Car, Don’t Advertise It

Having a car on campus, especially in a suburban area such as Long Island, comes in handy for running errands, going shopping, and getting jobs off campus. However, those who don’t have cars will definitely try to take advantage of it. If you decide to bring your car to school, it’s best to only let your roommates and close friends know. If you do decide to give some of your friends or classmates frequent rides, make sure that they know in advance that gas is expensive and you can’t drive them around too much unless they are contributing money to your gas funds.  

Be Open to New Friends and New Experiences

College is a once in a lifetime experience, especially if you are living on campus. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone a little bit and try things that you never thought you would. Take advantage of all of the opportunities that the school has to offer, even if you’re unsure whether or not it’s for you. Try to make as many friends as you can freshman year. You definitely won’t stay friends with all of them, and you’ll be surprised how your group will split up in the years to follow. But that is definitely not a bad thing. In fact, the friends that are willing to stick with you through the good times and the bad are the ones worth keeping in your life both during, and beyond college.

Learn How Each of Your Professors Grade and Cater to it

College classes tend to have far less graded assignments than in high school. This means that what is graded will most likely weigh a lot more than what you’re used to. Participation in the class is more often than not a big portion of your grade. Make sure that you read the syllabus for each of your classes so that you’re aware of how much each assignment is worth. Try not to turn anything in late, as most professors deduct points for late work. Each professor will have a personal preference as to how you complete an assignment. Some might be extremely nitpicky and specific, while others might be more lenient on graded assignments. It is important to cater to this, even if it goes outside of your normal style if you want to ensure that you’ll get a good grade.

Don’t Freak Out if You Want to Change Your Major

Not everyone knows what they want to do after college, especially as a freshman. It can be intimidating when your peers seem to know exactly what to do when they graduate. As long as you figure it out by the second semester of your sophomore year, you have nothing to worry about. People switch their majors more often than you might expect. That is why it’s important to get involved in professional organizations on campus to make sure that you are focusing on the right field of study for you. Take advantage of your advisor. They only want to help you be successful, and they give really great advice if you are struggling with your major or minor.

Take Advantage of the Gym on Campus

You are paying A LOT of money to go to school. Not all of that money, however, is going toward your classes, room, and board. Among other things, you’re paying for a gym membership, which means your money is going towards it regardless of whether or not you use it. Another reason that I recommend using the gym is that both your diet and eating habits will change dramatically in college. Your options will be limited, and you will find yourself eating later at night than usual. If you have a meal plan, you basically have access to food whenever you want it. There will be both healthy and unhealthy options, and college allows you to pick when, where, and what you eat. The freshman 15 is a very real thing, and unless you’re underweight, it is NOT fun. I always try to go to the gym in the morning before class so that I can shower and not have to worry about going later in the day when I have homework or other things to do.  

Hopefully, these 7 tips will make adjusting to college life a little easier. These are just a few things that I’ve found to be generally true thus far in my college experience. College is a once in a lifetime experience, and making mistakes is a big part of learning and growing up.