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How to Survive the Rest of Your Freshman Year

Okay, so you’re here. Orientation is over, classes have started and you’re starting to get into the swing of things. It feels easy at first, but I promise you it will kick into gear much faster than you’ll realize. And then you’ll be having midterms, essays, projects and finals before you can even blink twice. Here are some tips that helped me transition into freshman year that will hopefully help you too.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED

While it’s still super hot out right now, once the weather starts to change it’s not going to be a straight line shift. Some days it will be super hot, some days cold and some days in between. When all that happens, you never want to forget a jacket, or an umbrella. Once it does get cold, you’re going to want to invest in some good quality winter boots, with good traction. You definitely don’t want to slip on ice once it starts to snow consistently. Aside from weather, though, your new classes are going to throw topics at you that you may never have heard of before. Everyone coming in came from very different backgrounds, and all of their previous education experiences almost never match up to where the professor begins their class structure. So if you ever think you’re even close to falling behind, always get help in the topics you don’t understand. Go to office hours, befriend your TAs, and create a study group. You’ll only ever regret not getting help if you don’t do it. 

(As a last note, if there’s a global pandemic and you’re not prepared, don’t sweat it.)

BE OPEN-MINDED

Whether you’re coming from near or far, most people are not coming from the same place as you. You’re going to continuously meet new people in your classes and clubs (maybe even parties, if you’re the type), and you should always look to be making friends with people who might be really different from you. Whether they grew up across the street, state, country or even across the world, there’s no reason to judge or be unkind to someone you’ve just met. In addition, you need to be open-minded to academically succeed, be open to joining academic groups or trying challenging classes. Personally, a lot of my most difficult classes have been my most interesting ones, and while it may not be the same for everyone, don’t be afraid to try something new even if it seems hard. 

REMEMBER TO EAT

Okay, I’m not the first to remind you to eat, probably, and I bet that dining hall food is definitely not very appealing after the first two weeks. But you won’t be able to do well on an empty stomach, nor will you be able to make the most of your time if you’re constantly thinking about eating. If the dining hall hours don’t fit into your schedule, then stock up on a few staples to have in your dorm room for when you get hungry. Whether it’s some snacks or enough ingredients to make a meal, it’ll be beneficial to have food in your room for late night study sessions and any other time you get hungry. And when you do have time to go to the dining hall and have a real meal, please do so—eating some vegetables once in a while really will help your brain work better for that exam you have soon, I promise. 

YOU’RE GONNA GET A BAD GRADE

You will. There will be a day you study for hours upon hours for your exam and somehow, some way, you get a horrible grade. A lot of professors make their exams difficult on purpose—I had one that would shoot for 60% as the average for every exam. Usually though, those exams are curved, so even if you do badly, your overall grade at the end of the semester could be higher. Now, if you’re in a class without a professor like that and do bad, please don’t stress. Well, I know you’re going to stress anyway, but at least try not to linger on it. A bad grade in one class is not going to hurt your GPA as much as you think it might in the long run. Even several poor grades won’t hurt your GPA that badly. You’re taking classes in so many subjects and varying difficulties, so not everything will make total sense to you. It might be hard to accept, but it’s true. If you want to do well in subjects that aren’t your forte, research different study methods to help you understand it better. It might not work all the time, but if you put in the effort, you’ll definitely do better. 

THINGS ARE CHANGING

You’re not the same person you were in high school. Nobody is anymore. Take chances and opportunities to do things out of your comfort zone, even if only for the experience. If it’s too much, at least you can say you did it, right? And the good thing is that you never need to do it again after that. But if you end up liking it, then there’s no longer anything holding you back from continuing to do it. This part of the year is your prime opportunity to do something that scares you and reap the benefits. While there’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone, you’ll regret not trying new things out when you were a freshman. So why not just do it? You have nothing to lose. 

That’s all I have to say about how to handle the rest of your freshman year. If you take any advice from an upperclassman, I’m sure they’d say very, very similar things. We’ve all already gone through our freshman year, and learned so many things. You’re the one who controls what you do, so what are you waiting for? Have the best freshman year you could ever make for yourself.

Devanshi is a junior at the University of Rochester pursuing a double degree in Chemical Engineering and Creative Writing. When she doesn't have her head stuck in an engineering problem set or an essay for an English class (a very rare occurrence), she enjoys weightlifting, watching cartoons, and making elaborate bowls of oatmeal.  
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