5 Takeaways From My First Semester at Northeastern

College is a scary time for everyone, and it's safe to say you'll feel a whirlwind of emotions. Here are my biggest takeaways from my first semester at Northeastern to put things in perspective

  1. 1. Act Confident, Even If You Don’t Feel It

    College is scary. It’s natural to feel unsettled when diving right into a new city, a new school, and a whole new community of people. I remember experiencing the most confusing mixed bag of emotions, unable to ascertain excitement from fear. I was frozen like a deer in the headlights, but somehow, everyone I encountered exuded this aura of confidence and assurance. How could every other freshman navigate change so easily? 

    As daunting as it was, being the introvert that I am, I decided to strike up conversations with the people sitting next to me in club meetings, the girls in my sorority rush group, and the people behind me in line for the MBTA. By simply feigning confidence, I was able to initiate interactions that grew to be some of my closest friendships. Best of all, I began to feel just as confident as I had pretended to be. 

    No matter how certain every other student seemed, I realized they likely felt the same stomach butterflies that I felt. If you’re unable to shake the uneasy emotions that accompany change and unfamiliarity, just “fake it ‘til you make it,” —you’ll be amazed by the external and internal benefits of acting confident

  2. 2. Enjoy Your Own Company

    Your college friends become your family away from home. From studying with them to eating every meal with them, you become accustomed to constant social interaction. However, this can become exhausting, so it’s completely healthy (if not necessary) to pencil in a little alone time. Spend a night in with a good book or your favorite tv show or even sit alone in the dining hall while catching up on schoolwork. Learning how to enjoy your own company is an important life lesson, so don’t feel ashamed about taking that much-needed “me time".

  3. 3. Use Your Class Breaks Wisely

    With a few hours to kill between two long lectures, it may be tempting to spend that time giving your brain a break, whether that means scrolling through Instagram or watching Netflix. Or maybe those hours would be better spent going out for ice cream with some friends or catching a late movie? During your class breaks, your friends are often in class or otherwise engaged, so make sure to use these periods to crank out some readings or problem sets. You’ll thank me when you’ve finished all your homework by dinnertime.

  4. 4. Try Something New

    College is undoubtedly a time of experimentation, as it’s our final phase of adjustment, development, and self-discovery before we’re left to our own devices in the real world. Northeastern provides its students with copious resources including research databases, interesting classes, and clubs and organizations. There’s always an opportunity to explore uncharted territory, and your first semester of college is the best time to do so because nobody will care if you fail. Every student is far too engrossed in their own classes, homework, social lives, and extracurriculars to take note of your successes and failures. At a big school like Northeastern with so many students and so many events, there’s never too much harm in making a fool of yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try something new! Maybe you’ll uncover a new passion. 

  5. 5. GPA Isn’t Everything

    In high school, I would often spiral after receiving a poor test grade. I’d start pacing, convinced that this low mark would tank my grade in the class, destroy my chances of attending my dream school, and therefore make it impossible for me to build a successful career. Of course, this was an overreaction, but with grades being the basis for college acceptances, my feelings were valid. Luckily, in college, grades may not always hold the same weight. 

    While this should not be an excuse to slack off, it should be a reason to get involved. According to a study by The Chronicle of Higher Education, employers value experience over academic performance. Thus, instead of spending 6 hours preparing for that upcoming test, maybe take a couple of hours to attend a professional club meeting, write for a publication, apply for an internship, or engage in any other endeavor that would add to your resume and your personal skillset. Co-op is on the horizon, so be sure to prove you can succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Not only did my first semester at Northeastern teach me so much about the career field I hope to enter, but it also taught me so much about myself. Through the stress, smiles, setbacks, triumphs, and adventures from September until December, I underwent the greatest growing experience of my life; hopefully these takeaways will help make that overwhelming first semester all the more navigable for incoming Huskies.