11 Lessons I Learned My First Year At College
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11 Lessons I Learned My First Year At College

Sometimes the most important things are learned outside of the classroom.

11 Lessons I Learned My First Year At College
Diane Gottsman

Last year was my first year at The Ohio State University, my first time away from home for an extended period of time, and the first time that I had to be responsible solely for myself. I learned so many things about myself and the community throughout my first year.

1. I will never be the type of person to have a large group of friends.

I'm an introverted person, and for a large part of the fall semester, I thought that I had failed at making friends because I wasn't a part of any squad or large friend group. But I realized that my personality doesn't mesh well with large groups of people. I prefer to be able to do things on my own; I'm not good at texting back or participating in group chats, and I definitely don't want to go out every weekend, let alone every night of the weekend. I like having a smaller number of close friends, and that's okay.

2. I am highly motivated and highly lazy all at the same time.

My first semester, I finished all of the assignments for my Spanish class about a month in advance of when there were due because I got tired of waiting until the day before the deadline to do them, but I also put off writing a paper until two days before it was due. The moral? I actually have to set reminders for myself to get larger projects done, and while it's good that I deal with the little things, I need to stop doing them and call it being productive when I have bigger things to do.

3. Your professors want you to succeed.

Professors with tenure aren't assessed on how well their students do. But they really do care about your grade. I learned that it's important to ask for extensions early and to also communicate with them about absences, special needs, or anything that is important to your success. Professors will do almost anything to help you out, but communication is key; they have to know you need their help. That being said...

4. Office hours are important.

If there's one point that people can't stress enough to freshman, it is to take advantage of office hours. The professors have to be there, and they want to have social interactions and not just sit in their office staring at the door for this time. Office hours are important for all sorts of reasons, including building a relationship with your professor. Relationships with your professors are important because one day when you need a letter of recommendation, you want someone who knows how you are both inside and outside of a classroom. And in those larger lectures, going to office hours is one way that you can make yourself more than just a name on the roster.

5. You have to take care of your body.

There's a reason why everyone is afraid of the freshman 15; it actually happens. But there's so much more than needs to be done to take care of your body than just making sure to eat well. You need to do other things like working out and making sure to get enough sleep. Last semester, I had 4 days of classes at 8 am, and I never went to bed at the time I should've and by the end of the semester, I was burnt out and always tired.

6. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

One thing that college students tend to overlook is their mental health and will do anything just to get the grades they want while ignoring their body's needs. It's important to take a mental health day whenever you feel you need one. It's important to do things like going with your friends to a party and forgetting about that chem lab report that has been stressing you out all day. Sometimes putting off doing things in order to do things you enjoy and make you feel better and prepared to tackle important challenges.

7. Calling home is one of the nicest things you can do.

Your parents and siblings miss you too. While you might be having the time of your life at college, they want to hear about what you're doing and to be able to make sure that you are okay. However, don't just get trapped in the cycle of calling home only to ask questions of mom and then be immediately prepared to hang up.

8. Eating alone doesn't make you a loser.

You're a college student, you have a busy schedule, and it might not perfectly align with one of your friend's schedules in order for you to eat every meal with someone. That's okay. No one is going to judge you based on how many people you are or aren't eating with. One of my dad's biggest fears was that whenever that I ate some of my meals alone, that I wasn't making friends. It wasn't that I wasn't making friends, it was that I was coming back from somewhere and I decided to get food as I was passing the dining hall. Sometimes I like to be able to do homework while I'm eating, and that just seems rude to do while eating with other people. Or, sometimes I just have 30 minutes between class and I barely have time to eat, let alone plan to meet someone else and then talk with them and eat.

9. Taking risks and trying new things comes in all sizes.

Sometimes taking risks is trying some dining hall food that sounds like it'll be really good or absolutely awful, and sometimes it's throwing (or attending) a party in a dorm room. Just because it's not some big thing doesn't mean that you didn't go out of your comfort zone, and you should value what you did any less.

10. It's okay to say no.

Everyone tells you that it's important to have so many different experiences in college, but no one tells you that one of those experiences should be learning how to say no when it's in your best interest. Maybe you've had a really busy week and your bed sounds better than any party your friends can pitch you, or maybe your work wants you to stay an extra hour, but you know that you have homework that you need to get done. Whatever your reasoning may be, be assertive; it's good for you. Saying no when necessary can also help you not have so much FOMO because you know that whatever you're doing instead is more important to yourself.

11. Enjoy every moment, and don't forget to take pictures!

College is a unique experience; not everyone gets one, and no one's experience is exactly the same as someone else's. While it might not be the best four years of your life, there will be some moments that will be the best ones. Make sure to enjoy those to their fullest, and don't forget to take some pictures. One of my biggest things is that I don't take pictures because I want to be able to remember them because I experienced them, not just because I took the picture. However, it's important to find a balance between taking pictures of everything and taking pictures of nothing. The stories you tell will be great on their own, but sometimes a picture will say more than your story can.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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