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Freshman Year Survival Guide: Lessons and Tips

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Freshman year of college is considered your “baby steps” into adulthood; a not so gentle attempt to assimilate you into your first time living away from home in a short 18 years of life. As I write this, I have about two weeks left of
“baby steps,” my first full year of being an almost-adult is coming to a close.

Freshman year has brought me great happiness and growth, but growth does not come without struggles. The lessons I learned have helped me realize the kind of person I want to be as I begin adulthood. Whether it’s social life, dorm life or academic life, freshman year of college is a whirlwind of wonderful experiences that teach you the ins and outs of life on your own.

It is impossible to be fully prepared for your first year of college. You can try to expect what you’re about to experience, but there is nothing that comes close to a substitute for experiencing it. However, I wouldn’t take the experiences and lessons I’ve learned back for anything.

Here’s a few tips and ideas I would give to anyone starting college in four months.

Get uncomfortable to be comfortable

The biggest shock to my system at the beginning of freshman year was how uncomfortable I felt in a new place. However, being pushed out of your comfort zone is the main way to experience growth as a person.

Putting yourself out there is the easiest way to grow and feel adjusted.

Although I am a very social person, college still managed to push me out of my comfort zone. Doing little things such as knocking on people’s doors and asking people to get food made a world of difference for me.

The only way to adjust is being proactive. Eventually, time will help everything fall into place.

Sitting in your dorm room all day won’t get you anywhere, so put yourself out there. It is 100% worth it in the end.

attend involvement fairs

No matter what you’re looking for to immerse yourself in, involvement fairs are the perfect place to start. I joined so many fun organizations and made friends by learning about places that caught my interest.

Although they seem daunting, everyone there just wants to recruit new members and meet new people.

For me, I became a part of multiple organizations that I never would’ve joined if it weren’t for the involvement fairs. Definitely check it out when your school announces theirs.

Trust your gut

Don’t allow yourself to be chosen, choose the people you want to surround yourself with. College is filled with so many experiences, but some of them will probably end up being negative.

The most important lesson I learned was to trust myself and to learn how to be on my own, not just physically but mentally. Nobody knows you better than yourself, so trust your instincts and let them help you.

make friends in your classes

Obviously, the main reason you’re going to college is academics. The main way you’re going to succeed is making friends in your classes. Not only does it make it easier for you socially, but if you ever need help with assignments, a study buddy or a partner for a project, making friends will make it easier.

When I first started classes, I originally thought I would just keep my head down and mind my business. However, the friends I have made in my classes are some of the best friends I’ve made here. It also made school so much easier knowing I had people to collaborate with.

time heals

Freshman year is nothing short of a rollercoaster. There will be times where you feel trapped or it won’t get better. You definitely will be challenged and feel some sort of struggle.

However, in times like that, realize that it will not feel that way forever. Time has been my biggest helper. After a negative experience, I’ve learned that college does not get worse, it only gets better.

The one thing I promise is you will get out of your first year no matter what happens. It does get better and you will be okay.

Be grateful for the experiences and realize how much you’re going to grow. It really does teach you so much.

Sarah Weins is a freshman at Penn State studying Journalism and Public Relations.