9 tips to help you survive freshman year
Congratulations to the Graduating Class! You’ve finally made it through 12 years of crazy substitute teachers, tedious never-ending busywork and halfway edible cafeteria lunches. Now it’s time for COLLEGE or as they say ‘the best four years of your life.’ I’m sure many of you are ecstatic and can’t wait to begin this new chapter of your life, but before you head out for move-in day here are 9 tips to help you survive freshman year.
- Find all of your classrooms before the first day of class – this was a lifesaver for me during my first year! Familiarizing yourself with the buildings your classes are in can help you discover the quickest route between classes, ensure no accidental walk-ins into wrong classrooms and most importantly prepare you for your (very exciting) first day of college.
- Save the campus map on your phone – as someone who goes to a large school I cannot tell you how many times this tip rescued me from embarrassing ‘I’m so sorry I’m late’ conversations. I’ve even had some friends set this as their lock screen background for the first couple weeks of school (it’s honestly that important).
- Get involved – sign up for clubs, sports organizations, student government, campus ministries, greek life or anything that puts you out there. Joining clubs and campus ministries will help you find the balance between classes and extracurricular activities, strengthen your relationship with Christ, meet incredible people, learn invaluable time management skills and enhance your college experience by guiding your to find your special niche.
- Leave time for yourself – don’t be afraid to stay in on a Saturday night and treat yourself to Netflix and popcorn. Indulge yourself every once in a while with things you love doing, whether it is reading, journaling, exercising, watching movies, etc. This will really relax and reenergize you when you’re feeling overwhelmed with schoolwork and social obligations. Also, save time for God through reading the Bible and prayer. No matter how busy you become, remember that God will always be there to guide you, to listen to you, to love you.
- Find your favorite study method – For me college is where I learned that I study far better alone than I do with a group of people, but this won’t be the case for everyone. Throughout my first semester I tried out a variety of different study methods (with a partner, in a group, by myself, using flashcards, writing notes out by hand, you name it I’ve tried it) and by finals week I had figured out which method worked best for me. Gaining this insight helped me tremendously during arguably the most chaotic week of my life.
- Syllabus, syllabus, syllabus – remember in high school when some teachers would hand out class syllabuses and we would all quickly skim through it, then tuck it away in the back of our binders most likely never to be seen again? Well, in college a class syllabus is basically your life laid out on a piece of paper, so please don’t take it for granted. Read it, re-read it, refer to it regularly. If you have any questions regarding the class, check the syllabus first before emailing your professor because 1) the answer will be on there 90% of the time and 2) your professor will most likely reply ‘please refer to the syllabus.’
- Participation is key – most classes in college have students of all grades in attendance, which can make it very intimidating to participate and contribute to class discussions as a freshman. I know first hand that it’s tremendously difficult to speak up in a class full of strangers who are older, wiser and seemingly smarter than you, but know that you’re every bit as impressive. Speak your mind and open up discussion. Don’t be afraid to answer a question in which you only ‘kind of’ know the answer, most discussion questions are meant to be that way. Also, participating will help you be more attentive to class material, which will help you learn more. Not to mention participating will score you some killer participation points, and also aid professors to notice you – especially in larger classes.
- Keep in touch – throughout the chaos of freshman year, it can be easy to drift away from old friends, after all there’s so much pressure to ‘make college friends that will last a lifetime.’ However, don’t forget to check up on old friends every once in a while. Its always nice to have someone familiar from back home to catch up with, someone who stuck by you during those awkward middle school years, but most importantly, someone who’s also going through the college adjustment and knows exactly how difficult it can be.
- It’s okay – it’s okay if college scares you, it’s okay if you’re not as excited as everyone around you, it’s okay if you hate college at first (I promise it becomes better), it’s okay if you grow homesick and it’s okay if you’re timid and don’t have the most ‘outgoing’ personality. Everyone deals with change differently; some thrive off of it while it takes others some time to adjust. Just know that it’s completely normal to experience whatever you’re feeling because college can become extremely overwhelming. The key is to continue being you because you’re unique, special and irreplaceable. This is the way He created you. Continue believing in yourself and trusting that through it all, God will always be there for you – always remember that you are loved and you will survive.