I remember the day my parents dropped me off at school. It
was a pretty overwhelming experience. I was all of a sudden expected to live
with three complete strangers (I lived in the dorms my first year) and was
completely on my own for the first time. I think all new Freshman have a very
similar experience. Your first year can be scary, but it can also be filled
with amazing experiences, making lifelong friends, making a few mistakes, but
also learning invaluable lessons.
Let’s start with your first major adjustment you’re going to
be making: Living with strangers. Most people aren’t going to be in a
one-bedroom apartment their Freshman year (and honestly, I wouldn’t recommend
it). Although my roommates ended up being a bit of a disaster, I wouldn’t trade
that experience for anything, because I met 90% of my friends at the dorms.
These are people who are still my best friends years later. So my advice: if
you’re not getting along with your roommates, try having a meeting to resolves
issues early. If you can’t resolve your issues, get involved on campus or get a
job, something to keep you busy and therefore away from the house for as long
The other biggest adjustment for most people is having so
much freedom and making your own rules. I know a lot of the people I knew took
this freedom as an opportunity to stay up/out super late and eat a lot of junk
food. My advice: use this opportunity to set up rules for yourself right away (i.e.
establish a routine, budget, schedule, etc.) because otherwise everything will
seem to pile up on your plate pretty quickly.
College classes are definitely more challenging than high
school classes. Number one difference, there’s more studying involved. My
advice: as a part of setting up a schedule for yourself, make sure to schedule
more time than you may think you need to school work, because there will be
more research needed, papers are longer, and tests tend to be more in-depth
than one is typically used to.
Getting connect at school can be tough with all of your
academic obligations. Especially if you tend to be on the shy side, like me. My
advice: check out clubs on campus (I go involved with my school’s Enactus—formerly SIFE—club which
gave me a ton of valuable skills and hooked me up with some awesome people with
similar interests), maybe get an on-campus job, go to orientation (as hokey as it
might seem), and—as I’ve already said—live in the dorms (if your school has
them) for at least the first year, because it ends up being kind of a lot of
forced interaction with your peers (in a good way). If your school doesn’t have
dorms, do some research ahead of time and find out where other students are
Starting college can definitely be a stressful time, but
with some proper preparation, it can also be an absolutely amazing experience.
Also check out our blog with tips for
helping parents get through the first year of college!