Your first year in college can be very overwhelming. This may be your first time being away from home, you’re living in a small dorm, with a roommate you probably barely know, and are trying to adjust to the pace of college classes. Here are four things I wish I knew as a first-year, which I hope will help you feel more at home here at UVA.
Learn to be comfortable with being alone.
The crazy thing about college is that even though you’re surrounded with people most of the time, you can still feel lonely and isolated. Become your own best friend, and learn how to genuinely enjoy your alone time. Take yourself on little coffee dates, go for a walk on your own, sit alone in the dining hall (I promise you, no one is looking at you!). Getting out of your comfort zone is tough, so if you feel anxious about any of those situations, use that time to call your parents and home friends, listen to music, or catch up on your schoolwork.
Make friends in your classes.
This is especially true now that classes are in-person, because there is (usually) no zoom recording that you can just rewatch if you can’t make it to class. So, next time you go to class, sit next to someone you don’t know and just say hi! Introduce yourself, make small talk and get their number after class, so that you’ll have a way to get the notes from them if you miss a day. It’s also just nice to see a friendly face when you walk into a big lecture hall.
Use the UVA resources you’re paying for.
There are so many places you can go to if you’re struggling with the academic aspect of the transition from high school to college. Those services are free (well, you pay for them in your tuition!). If you have to write an essay for your ENWR, make an appointment with the Writing Center, and have them help you structure and outline your paper. If you are struggling in math (been there, done that), check out the Math Collaborative Learning Center for help with practice problems and homework. If you need general advice on your major, internships or future career paths that might interest you, talk to your advisor and to someone at the Career Center. One last resource is office hours with your professors or TA’s. I know you’ve heard this so many times before, but a good relationship with a professor will help you in the long run, whether it’s for rounding up your grade at the end of the semester, letters of recommendation or even potential research opportunities. I used to be afraid of asking for help, but remember that those people are here to help you, and won’t judge you for needing guidance in your academic career.
These are all the tips I have for first-years, and even older students, because I am definitely still adjusting to college, despite being a second-year. Remember that you got into UVA for a reason, and although at times you may feel less smart than the rest of your peers, you belong here!!