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The Freshman 15: 15 Things I Learned My Freshman Year of College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois chapter.

Being a freshman in college is an all-around exciting experience. There’s so much to do, explore and experience and only four years to make it all happen. Here are 15 things I learned my freshman year of college that helped me realize that everything won’t be perfect, but it sure will be memorable. 

1. It takes a while to get adjusted to college life. 

When I first came to college, I didn’t call my parents for the first couple of weeks. This may sound crazy to some people, but taking the time to personally adjust is easier without people hovering and will eventually make you want a piece of home. 

2. You’re not going to stay friends with everyone.

People you meet the first week of college whose only contact information you have for them is Snapchat will not become your best friends, and that’s okay. College is all about meeting a ton of new people and sticking with the good ones.

3. Boys (or girls) do not matter as much as school. (Yes, really!) 

If it happens, it happens, but school should be your first priority over a significant other. Plus, most of the time it causes more unwanted stress and drama than you bargained for. 

4. Your roommate might not be your best friend and that’s okay. 

While this isn’t the case for everybody, you don’t have to be super close with them or live with them forever. That’s why there are thousands of other people on campus!

5. Dining hall food is gross, but it lets you get creative.

Dining hall food lets you make a bunch of new meals and forces you to think outside the box when it comes to eating in college. Plus, it makes going home to your mom’s cooking that much sweeter.

6. Getting to know your professors matters.

Getting to know your professors on a more personal level can help your grades in the future and provide you with resources and references for future jobs and internships, too.

7. Staying healthy is hard, but try to make the effort.

It’s not always the easiest, but drinking more water and walking to class can make a huge difference in your health in college when you just might not have the time to work out. 

8. Your parents appreciate your phone calls.

Every time I call my parents, they say how great it is to hear from me. Your family really does care and wants to know how you’re doing. Call them to touch base on your walk to class! 

9. Stay in touch with your high school friends.

High school friends help you stay grounded in times of distress, can give you a good laugh when sharing memories and will always give you loving people to come home to.

10. It’s okay to say “no” to going out.

There are plenty of days and nights to go out in college. If you have a paper due or an exam to study for, saying “no” one time out of 100 won’t kill you (I promise). 

11. Greek life is not the end-all, be-all of college.

Going Greek can be an amazing thing for so many people. But if you find it’s just not for you, there are plenty of other groups and organizations to get involved in on campus. If it’s not your thing, there are plenty of other people in the same boat.

12. Staying organized is key to staying sane.

Keep a planner to stay organized, or at least use your phone to put deadlines and events in. Your brain can’t keep track of everything (although I really wish it could!). 

13. Your GPA does not make or break you.

I know it may seem like it, but there are eight semesters of college (and for some, years longer after undergrad). One exam will not ruin you and a not-so-great GPA one semester doesn’t mean you can’t come back from it.

14. You’re going to forget things sometimes.

There have been moments in class where I have no homework to turn in because I forgot about it, or I open up the gradebook to see a zero. There’s a lot going on in college. Even the most organized people forget things sometimes.

15. You will meet your best friends ever in college.

Whether it’s through your dorm, your major, Greek life or an RSO, you’re bound to find friends for life in college. There are people in your life that are already irreplaceable. Keep them close! 


These 15 things I learned throughout my freshman year of college helped me to realize what really matters and what to let go. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together! 


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Hi there! I'm Kendall and I'm a sophomore in advertising at the University of Illinois. Aside from staying busy writing at my internship and running around campus, you can find me adding to my monthly Spotify playlists, listening to true crime podcasts, running at the arc, or having cozy movie nights with friends!
Gloriann Lance

Illinois '19

Hi! My name is Gloriann Lance and I am a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I am one of the two Campus Correspondents for the 2018-2019 school year and I have been on Her Campus for 3 years.