10 Tips From My Freshman Experience

Coming to Stephen F. Austin State University was one of the best decisions I have made. Upon arrival, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I had never spent more than a handful of days away from my parents, but I was nonetheless excited for the future and this newfound independence. Here are my ten tips completely related to SFA’s campus, our residence halls, and just campus life. These are completely my opinions, apart from the surveys I made on my Instagram story from other SFA students!

1. Coming to College is What You Make It

Whenever I moved to Nacogdoches, I was extremely nervous. I went through fall formal recruitment for Panhellenic, moved into the dorms, and began classes all within a week. Although I would not trade it for the world, it natural that I was experiencing a lot of emotions. I was homesick, excited, happy, feeling a little awkward, and most importantly, making the best out of my first moments at SFA.

2. Deciding Your Major - It is Okay to be Unsure

Whenever I walked across the stage at my high school’s graduation, my principal announced that I was coming to SFA to pursue a career in Speech Language Pathology. By October, that was not the case! My passion for news, social media, and writing motivated to change my career path to my original plan of Mass Communications. Since then I have not looked back! Everyone has a path, and yours might include never changing your major or changing it six times. I know a number of people on both ends. It is totally okay! 

3. Make the Best of Your Dorm Room & Having a #Froomie

Most of the time, freshmen come to SFA and live in one of our residence halls on campus. I lived in Steen this previous year, where I had a roommate and two suitemates. My advice to you: Treat the space respectfully. Whenever you are respectful to others, it dissolves a lot of the possible issues that come about later. On my personal Instagram story I did a survey, one half for being considered “Extroverted,” and one half being “Introverted.” Why I conducted it this way was because most people, in my experience, who I have seen have roommate troubles or even great relationships bring it back to their personalities. In this survey question “Are you friends with your roommate(s)/suitemate(s)?” Extroverted people (or those who identify as so) voted 87% Yes, and 13% No. Introverted people voted 77% Yes and 23% No. 

         I was a little surprised, because I expected a bigger gap between the two parties of people. This just goes to show that things can be completely doable with your housing situation. Also, it is okay to not be best friends with your freshman year roommate. This does not make your college experience any less great, and it teaches you so much about patience and making your inner respect grow (speaking from experience)!

4. The Dining Hall - It Will Be Okay!

It is not going to be a surprise - the food here is not fine dining! There have been times where I skip a meal altogether because I did not want the food at the cafeterias. HERE IS THE THING - find what you like! It was not until spring semester that I found my favorite meal at the East College Diner - Rice Bowls (Think knock off Chipotle)! I eat salads because they are reliable, and french fries are a part of a lot my dinners #guilty. 

Extra dining hall tip: Choose your Meal Plan wisely! I have the 14 swipes a week, and $350 dining dollar plan. This is perfect for my diet and my needs. If you need more or less, that is up to you! Just spend those dining dollars frugally - you do not want to be out of those by midterms!

5. First Semester Friendships

You will hear it time and time again that your first semester friendships are not going to be your only friends to be made at college. In the survey I had on Instagram, I asked “Did you ever make the first move as a freshman to make friends with people in your classes? Out of those, Extroverted people said 60% Always had to be the one, and 40% said they never had to. Introverted people 46% always were the one, and 54% never had to. This means that it is a toss-up. If you meet someone you think you see a friendship in- pursue it! Everyone is in the same boat, and they all want to make friends. Taking that first step, or someone taking that step to you, takes courage! Let things happen.

6. Getting Involved

Finding organizations that peak your interest and make you happy your first year of college is SO important. I joined the sorority, Chi Omega, and it has single handedly been the best part of my journey here at SFA. I am so thankful for joining last fall. Also, I joined Her Campus (writing live in the Steen Library) in the spring and has been such a boost in my creativity and meeting new people! Getting involved on campus, no matter the organization, diversifies your network of people and makes connections that not only help you now, but in the future. We are here for a degree, y’all!

7. Finding Your Place

Whether you live 30 minutes or 8 hours away from Nacogdoches, moving here is a leap. Finding Nacogdoches as a second home is truly so vital to feeling comfortable in your academics, mental health, physical health, and overall wellbeing.

8. Seeking Inward and Outward Happiness

Not only is it important to find friends and make relationships here in your time at SFA, but it is important to seek happiness in yourself. Mental health in college is the foundation of your time here. Whether it be various ways of self-care, it being in exercise, meditating, finding spirituality, or snuggled in bed with Netflix, finding happiness within yourself is important for mental strength and happiness at SFA.

9. New Experiences

This may be your first time away from home, like it was for me! Nacogdoches can be full of experiences in its college town vibe. Go to a tailgate and eat a hotdog, go on the trails at the Arboretum, or line dance at Banita Creek Hall - these experiences is what makes Nacogdoches unique from other colleges.

10. Knowing Your Worth

College can be tasking in so many ways. Deep down, it is up to you to make your first year at SFA memorable! Cultivating kindness for yourself and others is my main advice here. SFA is such a great place to be for me, and I hope y’all enjoy it as well!