3 Things I Learned From First Semester Freshman Year

Adjusting to college is a trip and a half. By day one, some people find themselves stepping into a routine while others may struggle to even manage eating on a schedule. For me, first semester was a continuous learning experience – academically, mentally, and physically. Out of this critical learning experience, I’ve grasped three lessons that I’ve utilized to make this next semester a true success.

1.     Surround yourself with good people, but don’t be afraid to branch out

My first semester, I created a solid friend group with my roommate and another roommate pair. I can confidently say that these people – my best friends – made my adjustment to college tremendously easier by always being by my side. During one of the worst nights of my life, they stayed with me and offered unconditional love and support. This support definitely made it easier to deal with academic and social issues, but I realize that I could do with branching out and making connections with people in my classes. I’ve made a point this semester to have lunch with different people every week and grab coffee with friends I’d like to know more. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to join Her Campus at Vanderbilt!

2.     Don’t underestimate the importance of a schedule

Last semester was a mess of test dates hastily written on sticky notes and loose sheets crammed inside my notebooks (an exaggeration, but nonetheless just as disorganized). While I never missed any assignments, I realized it was important for me to organize my week and dedicate blocks of time to my classes. It’s now been almost a month of second semester and I have a color-coded Google Calendar and an up-to-date planner. Every exam date, final paper, and study session is outlined in separate time blocks, and I can say that this has kept me on my game this semester (and I’m saying this with full confidence after a full week of exams!).

3.     Be active

This sounds as if I’m saying to exercise more and get out of the dorm - which definitely is a good thing to implement. In order to fully develop yourself, though, you need to be active in everything you do. My personal mantra is to be in the present moment, and this can be done by being an active person. Be an active learner - understand information that you’re learning and ensure that you can explain it in its entirety. Only then can you master that subject. Be an active listener - place your full focus and listen to people and be genuinely interested. Only then can you support others as much as possible. My best friend (valedictorian of Beech High School c/o 2017) left his graduating class with this parting message: “People will be more respectful, more honest and open with you about how they truly think about something if you give them more room to speak.” This is something I look to implement in my life beyond this semester and how I constantly check myself to see if I am truly being helpful towards others.

I look forward to an even better semester and finding even more ways to improve myself as a student, a friend, and a member of Vanderbilt’s community!