As I begin my sophomore year at UMass Amherst, I've been taking time to look back at my first year in college. My expectations going into school never would've prepared me for what was actually to come. I learned so much from my freshman year and from reflecting on all my experiences—good and bad. Now I am sharing what I learned in order for you to enter your freshman year feeling a little more prepared.
- Missing Home
The first month or two of my first semester I found myself being really homesick. I missed my hometown friends and family a lot during those times. Reach out to friends and family often! Relationships take work and you want to maintain the good people in your life. Sometimes talking to a friend or my parents for even five minutes made me feel better about being away from home. For me, UMass is only a few hours from home, but stepping away from my hometown made me appreciate it more. Now, I am able to enjoy my time at home more than I ever did while I was in high school.
- Dorm Life
I lived in a triple my freshman year and being an only child and never having shared a room before, it was definitely uncharted territory. The three of us had different schedules and lifestyles, so it took some time for us to learn how to live with each other. Set boundaries early on and learn how to respect one another, as well as the space you share. Your roommates might be the only people you know at school in the beginning so it's important to be there for each other during a huge transition in your lives. My roommates and I did not become best friends, but we were always there for one another which is all I could've asked for!
- Get Involved
It is almost easier to get involved than to not get involved in college. There are countless activity fairs, and people are always reaching out throughout the year with information about clubs, sports, and job opportunities. Join activities that you have even the slightest interest in since you have all the time to decide whether to stick with it or not. Freshman year is a great time to explore new things and learn what you like and dislike. Joining something new is a great way to meet new people and begin building a home in your school.
- Free Time
In college I found myself having a lot more free time than I did in highschool. It was hard to learn how to spend my time productively since I no longer had the strict schedule of highschool. I found myself with large breaks in the middle of the day or having few classes some days. At first I wasted that free time, but quickly realized that those times were the best opportunities to ensure I didn’t fall behind in school. Days in college either felt super busy or relaxed for me, but it is important to find that balance in order to stay sane. Remain productive on the days you don’t have a lot going on in order to reduce stress on the days where you find yourself drowning in work or activities.
- Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
When you begin college you start with a brand new slate. In some ways it can feel like a lot of pressure having a fresh start, but it's also super exciting. Keep an open mind to new experiences and people! Reach out to people you may have not been friends with in highschool, and you may be surprised with who you make amazing connections with. In terms of academics, try classes that aren’t in your major. For myself and many others who I met during my first year, we found ourselves questioning if we picked the right major or not. Many of my friends switched their majors a few months into school, and that is perfectly fine! You are not locked into a major and the first year or two of college is a great time to explore what your true passion is.
My freshman year was a really big transition and I felt like I grew the most during this year of my life. At times I thought it would never be over, but looking back now, it flew by. Four years will go by so quickly, so I cannot wait to be back at school again to meet new people and make new memories.