20 Things I Learned During My Freshman Year

Freshman year: the year you move off to college, the year you move away from home, from your parents and everything you’ve grown up with.  Freshman year is the year that you start finding yourself and who you are away from all the influences you’ve grown up with. It’s the year you discover who you are outside of your family and the year you have to find your own balance of life, work and everything in between.  

Freshman year has taught me so many things and given me so much.  From crying over grades to an unfortunate number of doctor’s appointments, from making new friends to studying all night, each day of freshman year has taught me something new. I love how being here on my own has helped me become the person I’m supposed to be. Here is a list of 20 things I have learned thus far into my college experience:

  1. 1. Don’t stay on campus all the time.

    Living in Los Angeles has its benefits.  We live and study in a center for culture and arts, so we should take advantage of it.  Explore Los Angeles, Santa Monica, the beach cities. Go downtown for a day, go to Koreatown to try some new foods or travel to Malibu for the scenic views. Living in Los Angeles affords us with opportunities we wouldn't have anywhere else.

  2. 2. The Freshman 15 only exists if you allow it to.  

    I may not have made it to the gym as often as I should have this year, but college doesn't mean gaining an automatic 15 pounds. So many of us listed that fear of weight gain on our Facebook posts about who we were and who we wanted to be in college, but it's important to remember that the Freshman 15 is only real if you let it be.  

  3. 3. Don’t skip classes.

    Even if classes don’t all take attendance, you should still be attending your classes. Don’t listen to the people who tell you you don’t need to show up in class. That’s how you’ll miss pop quizzes and miss out on hearing what the professors really emphasize as important. 

  4. 4. Use BruinWalk.

    Even though your professors don’t want you to choose classes based on their reviews, BruinWalk is a great way to get a feel for the professors, their teaching styles and their grading systems before even stepping foot into the classroom.  This is a great tool UCLA students have that you should take advantage of. You can even install the BruinWalk extension to your Chrome browser so you can see ratings as you pick classes.

  5. 5. You will never get all the classes you want.  

    Class registration sucks and it especially sucks your freshman year when you barely have any units and won’t be able to get any of your first-choice classes. Always have backups and backups for your backups in case you really get screwed, but emailing professors for PTE numbers can work too!

  6. 6. Look for free PDF versions of textbooks before you buy them.  

    Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a new set of textbooks every quarter and waiting in the insanely long line to buy them, a quick Google search and asking any upperclassmen for links will get you a lot further and save you a lot of $.

  7. 7. It’s never too late to meet new people.

    The friends you make during orientation or zero week of fall quarter do NOT have to be the same friends you spend all your time with once spring rolls around. You have plenty of time to make new friends and meet new people, so you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one group of friends.

  8. 8. Set rules with your roommates as early as possible.

    Be clear about your expectations for them and their expectations for you. You don’t want to walk in on your roommate in the middle of the night when they're with their partner and have to deal with having that conversation with them then.

  9. 9. Make at least one friend in each class and get their contact info!  

    You will need it if you ever have to miss class or need help with the homework! Joining Facebook group chats for your classes is also a great way to get help.

  10. 10. College is your home away from home, so make sure it feels like it.

    If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, take advantage of all the resources provided to make yourself feel better. Join clubs, hang around campus for fun and really dive headfirst into life here because everyone is doing something interesting.

  11. 11. 8AM classes are death.

    Especially during the winter.  Do not take them during the winter.

  12. 12. Not all your friends from home will be your best friends when you go back for breaks.

    You lose touch with people. You’ve moved on in some ways and so have they. But when you go home, you’ll still meet with the people you’re closest to because those are the people you’ll really be making time for.

  13. 13. Sleep is a magical thing.

    I didn’t use to believe in naps. But naps are the best. Take advantage of any and all times you can nap. 

  14. 14. You find your own self.

    You may have been the best student in high school, but if you’re no longer that person, it's FINE. College is a completely different environment, and a few bad grades never killed anyone (and yes, I’m serious about that). That being said, you haven’t reached your limits yet. It’s amazing how far you can push yourself and how far you will want to push yourself to go after the things you really want. You should push your limits and get yourself out of your comfort zone because that's what college is all about. 

  15. 15. There is no such thing as “free time."

    I’m actually stealing this point from the girl who gave me a tour of the campus before I committed to UCLA. But take this advice. Any time you have when you don't have something scheduled is NOT free time. It’s time you can be using to get ahead. Join a club or one of the other million things that campus has available. So get better at time management and utilize your phone’s calendar. It’s there for a reason.

  16. 16. Make friends with upperclassmen.

    They’re not competing with you and they can always be there to help you figure out how to plan next quarter’s schedule or which professors are really just too much too early in the morning. Upperclassmen can tell you things that people in your year won’t know and will give you advice that academic advisors won’t share. There are certain classes you can take but most definitely should NOT. Don’t kill yourself freshman year. It’s not worth it.

  17. 17. Always have your water bottle on hand.

    It gets hot when the sun’s out and you should always stay hydrated since we have to walk so much on campus.

  18. 18. Greek life is not the only way to have a social life.

    While it certainly helps to have your sisters or your brothers there for you, it’s also completely possible that it's not your scene and you’ll make much better friends through your floor events or through a club.  So don’t feel pressured.

  19. 19. Not every day at college is a good day.

    Some days you’ll miss home and your mom and you’ll need a phone call home to get all those feelings squared away. Some days you’ll bomb a midterm and some days you’ll just want to cry for no reason at all. College is not fun every day. Remember that other people have bad days too, and Instagram and social media is just a representation of everyone’s best self. College is what you make it.

  20. 20. Finally, college is not how it looks in the movies.  

    You don’t go out every night (or you shouldn’t) and you can’t blow off all the work that piles up each day. You have to budget your money and pay attention to your grades because, yes, they do matter.

College life isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be but in so many ways it’s better.  I learned so many things in my freshman year, but I’m still learning and still expecting to learn so much more. Life at UCLA is a combination of wonderful, scary and so many other things. But most of all, it’s yours, it’s mine- it’s ours. Life here is what you make of it.