Advice for Incoming Freshmen

Now that my freshman year of college is coming to a close, I wanted to do an advice piece because I learned more than I thought I would. Although it wasn’t a normal year, I still think I got the freshman year experience that everyone else got as well. So, here are a few tips and reflections that I learned that I think will help out a lot. 

  1. 1. Don’t be afraid of communal bathrooms.

    This was one of my biggest concerns when coming on campus, and I know this is a huge worry for many others too. You would think that it would be weird or that the bathrooms are super gross and awkward, but it’s the exact opposite. Honestly, half the time there’s no one else in there and I noticed everyone does their best to keep things clean as well. It’s one of the least weird parts, which you wouldn’t expect, and you actually can meet so many new people there too!

  2. 2. Write out all of your assignments from the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. 

    I cannot stress enough how important this is. I took my fall semester at home, so it was way easier to be focused. At the beginning of the semester, I put all of my assignments into a Google Sheet organized by class, due date, and what type of assignment it was. It helped tremendously in staying organized and on top of everything while also working.

    However, when I came to campus this spring, I completely forgot to do it which caused me to fall behind and forget assignments. I would find myself doing assignments a few hours before they were due because a friend reminded me, or I just happened to see it on my class’s page. Being on campus makes it a little harder to stay on top of things since there’s always something going on — your friends are in your building or right around the corner — so I wish I had done the sheet at the beginning. 

    Woman sitting on bed with laptop and books
  3. 3. Save money before moving on campus.

    Unless you’re getting a job on campus, it’s extremely important to save money before moving on campus. Before coming, I genuinely thought I wasn’t going to spend any money and I was just going to buy things I needed, but I was very wrong. Your friends are going to want to go out to eat, or do activities like bowling or skating, which all cost money. And most of the time, you’re not going to want to miss out. But the cost of it all slowly starts adding up. Especially if you live in a college town, there are so many stores around. You’re going to want to buy things and check out all the new places. On top of that, you’re going to spend a lot of money on food even if your school does have the #1 dining in the country. (Shoutout UMass!)

  4. 4. Your friends aren’t going to just find you.

    This is a problem I saw a lot of people struggle with. As someone whose always been outgoing, I would make different groups of friends easily (but I know this isn't the case for most people). I saw a lot of people saying that they had a really hard time making friends and that they hate college so much because they have no friends.

    The reality is: college is not high school.

    In high school, I think it’s super easy to make friends since you’re with the same people every day, and are pretty much forced to interact during class and participate in group projects. On top of that, you most likely grew up with the same people as well, from elementary school to high school. However, in college, everyone is starting from square one. As an incoming freshman, no one knows anyone. But the reality is, you can only make friends if you put yourself out there. It might be uncomfortable at first but, in college, your friends don’t just make their way to you, you have to introduce yourself to others, be friendly, and be open to new experiences. You’re amazing just the way you are and you’ll definitely be able to make your solid group of friends if you put yourself out there. Some tips on how to get started are to join Facebook pages online for your class, join Snapchat groups where you can get to know others there, join clubs at school, and talk to the people in your hall when you move in. You’ll soon realize everyone is in the same boat, and you’ll find your group!

  5. 5. Don’t be afraid to change your major.

    All my life I thought I was going to be a doctor. Everything I did was medicine-related: I worked at hospitals, did medical programs, and applied as a biology major.

    By the first week, I had already changed to public health on a pre-physician's assistant track.

    I had already cut my schooling to two years after college because I knew that I didn’t want to go to school until I was 30. Later on, I kept thinking about how much I loved medicine, but I quickly realized it wasn’t the right path for me. I knew I wanted a job where I could travel, talk to people, and not have my entire life revolve around work.

    So, by the spring semester, I switched to the journalism major with a public relations concentration. I haven’t looked back since.

    My advice is: if you’re thinking about changing your major, just do it. Do some research on what it is you think you might want to do, find out what it takes to do that career and what to study, and just make the switch. Do not let the fear of failure hold you back. Fear of failure was what kept me from even switching sooner because in any major that isn’t STEM or business gets comments like, “are you even going to get a job with that?” and pretty much puts you down.

    But I learned it’ll all work itself out in the end, so don’t be afraid to do what you love. 

    studying group of friends
  6. 6. Never leave your clothes in the wash/dryer after they are done.

    This is one I learned pretty quickly. I would leave my clothes for only 20 minutes after they were done, and when I came down, they were already taken out of the washer or dryer. Set timers for when your clothes are going to be done because people WILL take them out.

  7. 7. Find out when you register for classes or pick housing and stay on top of it.

    This is a big one! Register for classes the minute your appointment opens because you don’t want to be stuck taking classes that have nothing to do with your major. At UMass, you can have your classes already picked out in a shopping cart before your enrollment appointment opens so that you can quickly enroll in them once the appointment opens. I’m sure other schools have this system too. If one of the classes you need is closed, don’t be afraid to email the professor as well to see if they can open up a spot.

    And if you’re planning on living on campus, make sure to also pick your housing right when it opens because spots fill up EXTREMELY fast. Have the building and room already picked in your head so you can select it once it opens, and have backups just in case. 

These are just a few of many tips to make your freshman year as best as it can be. I hope these tips help you in your journey as a college student (because they don’t only apply to freshmen). Good luck!