8 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

1. How To Live With Complete Strangers

This was my first learning moment as a freshman and arguably what I was most worried about coming to college. The only thing I knew about the people that I was going to be living with for the next year was their names. Luckily, we all ended up getting along great and, as long as you’re flexible and mindful of each other, you will survive living in your (small) freshman dorm.
 
 
2. The Smallest Meal Plan is Still Way Too Big
To avoid any confusion, I just took the default meal plan offered to me which just so happened to be the smallest. I remember calling my parents letting them know that we were probably going to have increase it. After all, 120 meal swipes for a whole semester? Those would probably be gone in 2 months! No, it was quite the opposite. Instead of begging my parents to increase my meal plan, I was begging them not to be mad at me because I only actually used half of them and they weren’t going to be transferring over to spring term. The pressure is on this semester to consistently visit the dinning hall, despite all of the great Mexican food restaurants close to campus.
 
 
3. Sleep is Critical
While I never pulled an all-nighter last semester, I had my fair share of late nights/ early mornings. It didn’t help that my roommate and I ended up on the same schedule after countless joint study sessions. The result was consistently going to bed at 2 AM every night, even on the weekends. Caffeine helped but I don’t think I really learned my lesson until I completely slept through my alarm and missed a test in my 9 AM class. Yeah, that’s not happening again this semester.
 
 
4. It’s Important to Stay in on the Weekend From Time to Time
I felt major FOMO my first semester because, compared to my small town at home, my campus was always busy with some kind of event. I thought that if I didn’t do something that I was missing out on new friendships and good memories. However, constantly going and not catching up on sleep made it very hard to enjoy what I already had. Treat yourself to a Netflix binge every once in a while!
 
 
5. The RA’s Are Your Friend
While we have all been scolded by them at some point or another, they really do have your best interest in mind. They were the ones there when my dorm had a catastrophic, midnight ant infestation or simply when we just wanted someone different to hang out with. Major key: they also have free Otter Pops.
 
 
6. People Will Actually End Up Failing the Course, Don’t Let it Be You
You are not a high school student anymore. There are no teachers constantly nagging you to try and succeed. Your success as a college student is ultimately up to you. Don’t be like the ones missing class or never applying themselves. Make the extra effort to answer questions and go to office hours. You’ll be grateful at the end of the semester when your grade is saved by your participation grade or the extra credit assignment your professor gave you in exchange for your dedication. 
 
 
7. Getting Involved is Great, But Don’t Overdo It
I wasn’t terribly involved in high school so I knew I wanted to make a mark on campus. Unfortunately, signing up for everything during the campus organizations fair wasn't such a smart idea. I loved how I always had something to do, but all of my activities started to get in the way of what really mattered: my schoolwork. This lead to some undoubtedly uncomfortable situations and hard choices as far as cutting down. It’s important to remember that you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. 
 
 
8. Change is Good
For many college freshman, beginning your life at a university is a massive change of pace that comes along with anxieties, worries, and opportunities for growth. Changes as big as starting college aren’t easy but it’s important to keep an open mind and be vocal about what bothers you. You and thousands of your classmates are or have been in the exact same boat as you. Some days might be rough, but you will get through it and have an amazing college experience.