What I Wish I Knew my First Year of College

By: Dominique Stromple and Kyleen Considine


The first year of college can feel extremely overwhelming. Parting from your friends, moving away from home, being in a new environment and managing making new friends while doing college-level schoolwork can be a lot to handle. Here are some pieces of advice that I wish was given during my first year of college.

It’s ok to let go of things from the past

You may attend a different school from your friends or significant other and naturally grow apart from them. It’s ok to let go of people from your past if they no longer mesh with your current character. It may be difficult, but this transition is natural.  

It’s ok to change

Similarly, don’t be afraid to change. Change is a sign of self-growth and maturation. As cliché as it sounds, college is an imperative time for exploration and development. I am definitely not the same person I was at age 18, and that is normal!

It’s ok to be undecided

Don't put yourself down for being undecided regarding your major; many students are in similar predicaments. Although it appears as if everyone else knows their exact path, that is false. Many students struggle to decide their future career! What matters is your journey to discover what you love. It takes time, so experiment with classes, academic clubs and outings. You never know what you may stumble upon!

Go to office hours

Many upperclassmen regret not going to office hours when they were younger; as freshman, they thought it was ineffective. But office hours are extremely important! Attending them improves your grade and understanding of the material. Your professor may be able to explain a concept better than their explanation in lecture. Plus, going to office hours creates a relationship between you and the professor; if you have a borderline grade at the end of the semester and ask for it to be raised, they may be more lenient with you!

Get involved early

Join clubs and organizations as soon as possible. By joining earlier, you can gain more experience and truly find your place on campus. Make sure to attend activity fairs, and if you can, don’t be afraid to join a club halfway through the semester!

Be nice to everyone

Be nice to someone even if you don’t think you’d be friends with them. There are a lot fewer situations in college than high school where popularity matters. There’s no reason to be rude or inconsiderate to someone, and who knows, you may actually end up making a friend!

Don’t be judgmental

Similarly, try not to be judgmental. You don’t know the hardships that others are internally dealing with. Also, the more close-minded you are, the less likely you will be to grow as a person or find your “people” on campus.

It’s ok if you are struggling with your mental health

College is a huge transition from high school, and it’s one step closer to adulthood. It’s understandable if you are struggling with mental health. There’s no shame in seeking help from friends, campus counseling or online resources.

Find people the build you up

This is a tip that I still work on to this day, but don’t worry about what other people are saying. Some people will feel jealous if you’re successful and will try to tear you down. Find the people that build you up and hold them close.

Take time for yourself

It’s easier said than done, but try to not overschedule yourself. Your health is the number one priority. Whether you take a bubble bath or go on a run, it’s necessary to take some time to just relax and focus on yourself!

Step out of your comfort zone

Don’t be afraid to be audacious! You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you move outside of your comfort zone. Some of my greatest accomplishments and happiest moments in college were from taking risks and doing activities I wasn’t 100% confident about originally.

Be more independent

If you want to do something, do it. Don’t skip the meeting because nobody can go with you. Go to the event even if you don’t know anyone else going. It is so important to become comfortable doing things alone.

Don’t give up

Last, but certainly not least, never give up – keep trying. It can be difficult to put yourself out there and get denied from people, positions, jobs, etc., but you will never achieve anything unless you continue to try.

Do you have any other tips for first year college students? Leave them in the comment section below!


Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, author’s own, 4