What I Wish I Knew Before My Freshman Year of College

So you are almost finished with high school and have found the perfect college. You probably are feeling everything from excitement to terror and are filled with 100 questions about everything from campus life to how to deal with a bad roommate and who throws the best parties of the semester. All of these feelings are completely normal, and I can say that I certainly felt the same way as I began packing up my belongings and getting ready to move to my dorm. Now, at the end of a year gone by too fast, I have reflected on some of the things I wish I knew before I entered my freshman year, in hopes of giving you some tips to prepare for the first year of some of the best years of your life.

1. You don't know how to study

"Haha, you don't get it. I took AP classes in high school, I got a 5 on my AP Calc AB test, I got a near-perfect score on the SAT. I know how to study." Wrong, wrong, wrong. High school studying is a joke compared to what studying in college is like. I'm not trying to offend any high schooler - I have been in the exact same position, but in reality, I did not know how to study entering college and didn't exactly figure it out until finals week of my first semester.

2. Second semester is SO much harder than the first

I can't say how many times I have wondered how I was so blindsided by second semester. I don't know exactly why, but classes just got so much more difficult. I know it's not just at SMU, because my friends from high school at schools across America have said the same thing. Classes get harder and schedules get busier, so be prepared, especially if you are planning on rushing.

3. Throw in Some Intro Classes!  

I can't stress how important intro classes are. Even though some of them are boring, my Intro to Java class helped me decide I wanted to change my major from Biochemistry to Computer Science, and I wish I had taken it my first semester instead of my second semester.  In reality, intro classes are there to help you figure out if you're on the right track. I feel as though I should add that once you consider skipping class, it's over. Try not to think about the temptation of not going to class because once you do, you'll think of 100 reasons not to go and miss the most important lecture of the semester or the review for the quiz that you have next class and forgot about. 

4. Getting B's and C's Isn't Bad

A lot of times, curves help with that final push. For example, in my first semester chemistry class, I probably had a final average of about 84% but because the professor curved, I finished with an A-. Don't freak out if you do bad on the first test or quiz! A lot of professors either drop a grade at the end of the semester or have a nice curve, and some even do both. On top of that, if you aren't trying to graduate with an amazing G.P.A. (some employers don't care about G.P.A.), then the saying C's get degrees is true (but seriously, at least try).

5. If You're Taking a Lot of Hours, Throw Some Easy Classes In

Going into my second semester, I decided to do a stupid thing and enroll in 15 hours plus three labs, all of them STEM classes and two of them junior level. Needless to say, I burned out, and dropped 3 hours and a lab, which is why I would recommend taking at least one class a semester that is an "easy A." And yes, those do exist. At my SMU, there are "university curriculum" requirements that must be fulfilled through certain courses, such as "Creativity and Aesthetics," "Historical Contexts" and "Language and Literature," to name a few, that often have an easier course schedule and far less assignments.

6. Just Embrace Coffee Already

There is nothing more depressing to a coffee addict than someone who clearly could use some coffee and turns their nose up at it because they "don't like" it. Psh! You'll love it during finals week, let me tell you, so just appreciate it now when things are slightly easier. I'll be the first to admit that the cafeteria coffee isn't the best, but complaining about being absolutely exhausted when there are solutions is a little silly. Just hush and drink it.

7. Nobody Actually Knows What They're Doing

I recently confided in a sophomore that I have grown close to that I not only did not know what I wanted to do with my major or career but that I also decided to drop out of the pre-med track. Then she revealed something to me: none of us actually know what we're doing! The few students that have everything planned are the anomaly, not the norm. On top of that, college is a place where everyone is trying to find themselves. It's okay to be lost for a bit.

8. Call Your Parents

A month and a half ago I called my dad crying because I wanted to transfer. I was serious about it, too. I was determined to leave SMU for a number of reasons, and I had them written out and was ready to pitch becoming a Longhorn at UT Austin to my dad. By the end of the phone call, I was composed, smiling and no longer transferring. Calling your parents can be so therapeutic on a bad day, but please don't just call them on your bad days. I try to talk to my mom or dad every day, whether it's a text or a phone call while I'm walking to work or class. They are still your parents, even if you aren't under their roof.