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How To Navigate The Tides Of College: Advise To Our Freshman Selves


As older and wiser college students, we often look back on things we wish we had known coming in as naïve, wide-eyed freshman.


If we could take a time machine back to our incoming freshman selves, there would be a long list of advise to give on how to navigate the waters of college. People think high school is tough, but college is a different world.


Advice doesn’t end with how to keep ones head above the course work, many students wish they’d made different social choices or living decisions or managed their time better.


Some University of Illinois students provide insight on what they wish they had known before coming to college.

Best friends make the worst roommates and random roommates could end up being best friends


Who people end up living with plays a huge role on the college experience. Having a random roommate runs the risk of ending up with someone crazy, but it could also turn out really well.


“I wish I knew about the horrors of living with random roommates,” said Nina Laski- sophomore at the University of Illinois.


Laski did not get along with her random roommates her freshman year in the dorms, but as a sophomore Laski lived with a few people that she knew and another random roommate but this time around her random roommate became one of her closest friends.


“It is hard living with new people and it is hard living with people you know too because everyone’s little habits can get annoying. But you have to be able to adapt and handle change and things can turn out well,” said Laski.


Finding your niche helps making new friends a lot easier


Michael Halkias, sophomore at the University of Illinois said that he wishes he had known more about the social atmosphere of the University before he came.


“As a student from Greece, I wish I knew that fraternities were such a huge part of the school my first semester here, and than I would definitely have rushed,” said Halkias.


Knowing the social scene of a college is something a lot of students wish they knew before hand. Halkias feels that it is important learn the best ways of meeting new people in college because it is a huge part of the experience. But a making new friends is not limited to Greek life, there are many different ways to meet people in college and finding ones niche is something students all wish they could have done sooner. The best way to go about this is to try out different experiences, whether it be joining a club, or playing intramural sports, there a countless ways for people to meet others similar to themselves.  



College isn’t about how smart you are, it’s about mastering the tricks of the trade


When students are away at school, no one is there to tell them to go to class or to do their homework, students are completely responsible for themselves and while that sounds amazing, it could also lead to a lot of issues if students don’t know how to handle themselves.


“I wish I knew about dropping classes and changing schedules. I would have taken GPA boosting classes my freshman year and dropped the tougher classes I did bad in. That could have really helped my GPA,” said Aisha Saqib, sophomore at the University of Illinois.

Saqib points out that her and her friends had not realized that communicating with their professors also made all the difference in borderline grades.


“If I had known that going to office hours and emailing my professors at the semester would have them bump my grade from an 88.5% to a 90%, I would definitely have taken advantage of that,” Saqib said.


Saqib points out that there are a lot of small things students pick up while in school that makes their experience easier.


For example, when it comes to college and the financials, Saqib said her and her friends wished they had not bought books or purchased season tickets to sporting events.


“There are so many Facebook groups and online groups where students sell books and tickets to basketball games and football games for very cheap. I know me and a lot of my friends wasted money on those things last year,” she added.



Taking advantage of the opportunities that are exclusive for college


Nora Johnson senior at the University of Illinois says that she wishes she took more advantage of the diverse experiences offered at school.


“I wish I took more classes that were out of my comfort zone,” she said, “college is one of the only times you can be exposed to different beliefs and experiences so I definitely would tell students to take classes that expose them to that or get involved in organizations that are very different too.”


Johnson served as a Resident Advisor her junior year at the University of Illinois so she always has advise to offer students who are just starting their journeys in college.


“Something that I have learned is that getting involved is a lot more important than some people think. Especially getting a job or getting involved in a club,” Johnson said.


Johnson believes that networking and branching out are the best ways of having a solid college experience.

“Not only will it help you meet new people and have new experiences but these people can help you get jobs. You can learn a lot from people you meet in school.”


The one thing Johnson along with everyone else emphasizes is; Don’t limit yourself to your high school friends.


Many people end up going to the same colleges as their friends from high school but it is important to branch out and meet new people.


“Limiting yourself the same old doesn’t allow you to grow and have new experiences, and the whole point of college is growing up and finding out who you are so the best way to do that is not be afraid to be independent and have a life of your own,” said Johnson.


So to all you incoming freshman out there, don’t be afraid of the choices you make in college, the whole point is to learn from there. But take the advise of these upperclassman make sure to put yourself out there. 

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