10 Things I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman - Advice From a Fourth Year Student

I remember my first day at San Jose State University like it was yesterday. I was 17 and I had just moved out of my parent’s house and into a dorm 50 miles away from my hometown. I was in an unfamiliar city and all of my friends from back home were nowhere to be found. Needless to say, I was terrified. Despite the fact that I’m an extroverted person, I had a really difficult time coming out of my comfort zone.

Many college freshmen struggle with the exact same thing that I went through and let me tell you - it’s totally normal.

As I come into my fourth year at San Jose State University, I’ve realized that I’ve learned A LOT these past few years. Yes, I’ve learned a lot about the media and analyzing case studies as a PR student, but some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned were not from textbooks but from trial and error. Within these past few years, I’ve learned so much about myself and how to navigate through college and life more effectively. I want to share those lessons with you!

Join clubs early! It’s easier to gain friends that way.

Joining clubs is a great way to meet like-minded individuals who share the same interests as you. Many universities have a large surplus of clubs that range from sports, to occupational, to the arts. You’re bound to find one that interests you. If not, maybe join a club that’s related to your major! During my 3rd year of college, I joined the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) club on campus and I learned a lot about the field and networked with professionals. It’s a great way to prepare yourself for the future.

It's OK to miss home and to call your parents if you need help.

So you may be 17 or 18 and you might consider yourself an adult, but just remember that your parents are always there for you. They don’t expect you to suddenly become a full-fledged adult now that you’ve moved off to college. It’s OK to call them and ask them for help with your car, your new roommate or if you just miss them and don’t want to admit it. Chances are, they miss you too and are worried about you.

Living in the dorms means no curfew! But don’t forget about that big test you have to study for.

I know. Living on your own is EXCITING. You no longer have a curfew and you can come home whenever you want! Welcome to the world of semi-being-an-adult. But don’t forget that you’re in college for a reason and you can’t forget about your responsibilities. You’ll start to learn that life is about balance. You spend all night partying and suffer the next day when you have to cram for a test, or you can divvy up your time better so you can have time for both. (But you might have to sacrifice sleep… just get used to it now)

You’re going to find out who your real friends are.

In college, everyone is doing their own thing. People start to get really busy and you’ll start to realize that your real friends are the ones who make time for you even when they’re super busy. I had friends who always flaked on me and lied that they were busy when they weren’t. I realized then that they weren’t worth my time and energy. There are people out there who will make you happy and are down for you. You will find them. Don’t worry if you don’t find them in your first year, it took me three years. :)


Take advantage of your college’s resources.

You pay SO much for college. So why not take advantage of what your college offers? San Jose State, in particular, offers a variety of programs for students who are in need of food, academic support, counseling, and so much more. A simple search on SJSU’s website may help you find what you’re looking for!

‘Free’ is going to be your new favorite word.

‘Nuff said.


Get organized! Your planner will be your new best friend.

College can be incredibly overwhelming but staying organized can help you alleviate the stress and make your life much easier. I basically live by my planner. Just being able to write things down and know exactly what I need to finish that day makes me feel more at ease. And when you’re finally able to check tasks off for the day, it feels so satisfying!

Find a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask them for life advice.

Is there anyone in your life that you look up to and wonder how they’ve become so successful? Ask them! Don’t be afraid to ask people for life advice, because there’s a good chance that they went through the same things you did. You could ask them questions about negotiating salaries, managing money, or even how they got through college. But you’ll never know until you ask!

Fake it 'til you make it.

No, I don’t mean be a fake person or anything like that. What I mean by “fake it til you make it”  is to just tell yourself that you can do it even if you psych yourself out. You just need to believe in yourself, even if you have doubts. Because the chances are if you say it enough, you start to believe it. Oddly, this is something that has given me confidence in so many scary situations and I’ve overcome so many obstacles things that way.


Savor every moment of it. Believe it or not, college goes by quick!

It doesn’t seem like it at first, but it’s true. These past few years have gone so quick and I can’t believe I’m going to graduate in May. College has been some of the best years of my life.


Immerse yourself in your college and enjoy it. Where else can you eat mac and cheese for dinner every day and still feel like you’re adulting?