15 Lessons From My First Semester Of College
Start writing a post
Student Life

15 Lessons From My First Semester Of College

Lesson #1: You look like a freshman wearing your lanyard (but anyone who points that out probably did the EXACT same thing anyway). Wear the lanyard.

15 Lessons From My First Semester Of College
The French Manor Bed and Breakfast

Since the Dean's List came out on the day of this writing, I think I can say I survived my first semester of college with some amount of confidence (notice I said "I think." I'm all about contingency plans here). Five months ago, I was a ball of nerves, freaking out over a huge transition I didn't think I was ready to make. And I was just commuting—I have a lot of respect for the dorm students. Considering I was going from two hallways crammed with 400 kids to a campus measured in acres with thousands of students...well, the anxiety kicked in. Not all of it is gone, because I've just accepted I'll be a ball of nerves for the rest of my life, but I can say, this time quite confidently, that college isn't what I expected it would be. It's better.

However, this realization has also come with some lessons.

1. You don't necessarily look pathetic. You only feel pathetic.

The first week of school was a blur. A terrifying blur. I remember feeling like everyone was looking at me and thinking, "God, she's pathetic." Turns out, that wasn't true. Well, maybe it's a little true at first, but apparently it's the most common adjective ascribed to incoming freshmen. Anyway, everyone's thinking the same thing at the very beginning. Lesson: you don't necessarily look pathetic. In all scenarios. Just keep your head up.

2. Putting some thought into your schedule isn't a bad idea.

I had no control over my schedule for this semester (probably because advising figured we might just drop out of school if we had to adjust to a new environment and figure out what a CRN was), and it showed: I had anywhere between five and seven minutes to make it to my next class on the other side of campus on the top floor of the science center. Was it great having my first class at noon? Definitely. Was it worth a daily jog while carrying half of my body weight in books on my back? Not really. What am I doing this semester? Scheduling my classes according to time and distance (and putting a pair of sneakers in my car).

3. "Doing the reading" is really only a worst-case scenario.

I hate to admit this, but it's physically impossible to do all of the reading (high school me just died typing that). Skimming is a superpower you probably should have acquired, well, any time before you stepped foot on a college campus.

4. Your syllabus is actually super important and you should probably get it tattooed on your arm.

That's a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit. When I heard how important the syllabus was, I didn't think it could actually help you not fail (because when you don't know what the French word for "rough draft" is and the professor keeps referring to it in class, you have no idea "le brouillon" is due tomorrow until it's tomorrow). Oh, and "Syllabus Week"? More like the first 10 minutes of class. Buy your books early.

5. Commuting isn't the death nail in your social life.

It turns out the trauma of your first few weeks is good cement for relationships. Speaking of which...

6. You don't know where you're going to find your friends.

This goes back to #5: I met people I never thought I'd see again, and they've turned into some of the people I trust the most. Lesson learned? Be open to new experiences and new people.

7. No one cares what you're wearing.

I walked into class one day wearing a skirt, a button-down shirt and a sweater and the guy next to me was in sweatpants eating his lunch. There's no judgment. It's honestly impressive you made the effort to show up. And if you just happen to wear the same sweater two days in a row? Alternating class days are a gift from God.

8. Everyone talks about dropping out.

This is coping mechanism #1. You aren't a lazy, horrible person just because the thought crosses your mind.

9. It turns out professors aren't horrible people who want you to fail.

I kept hearing that professors didn't care about students before I got to college, but the opposite is true. Example? On the last day of finals, I had work and a literature exam due. I woke up early to finish my exam and email it to my professor before heading into work to deal with a massive influx of textbook returns. What went wrong? Microsoft Word; my document didn't save and I submitted a blank document. I only realized this several hours past the deadline. My professor completely understood and gave me an extra hour to retype it and didn't take a single point off for something that, if he didn't believe me, could have easily been misconstrued as me stalling for more time. Lesson learned? Professors, in general, aren't looking to fail you (most of the time).

10. Commuting has pitfalls.

You save a lot of money and can go to the mall whenever you want, but it's honestly the worst when your car dies at 7 p.m. and your dad needs to come down and jump it. Pro tip: that ugly student ID still in your wallet from high school makes a great ice scraper.

11. Involvement isn't what you'd expect.

First of all, the selection of clubs and organizations is enough to make your head spin. Second of all, no one actually has time to try everything they'd like to. I'm in three clubs (nowhere near what I was in during high school) and it's honestly the most I can handle without missing an obscene amount of sleep.

12. Campus = Petri dish.

Because the germ freak managed to get mono the second week of school and everyone else she knew was dying of one thing or another every other week. Hand sanitizer is honestly a great investment.

13. If you think you have everything figured out, you're lying to yourself.

So it turns out that there are a lot of freshmen who have no idea what they're doing with their lives. There's safety in numbers, I guess.

14. You don't need to party.

Not a partier, never have been, never will be. I like to have fun as much as the next person, but I actually like to remember having it. What's the good part? A lot of people don't like to party. I'm not knocking it, but it's not my, or a lot of other people's, thing, and you aren't looked down on for that.

15. You can push through anything.

Because never fear, Starbucks is here.

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

Why I Don't Write (Or Read) An "Open Letter To My Future Husband/Wife"

Because inflated expectations and having marriage as your only goal are overrated.

Urban Intellectuals

Although I have since changed my major I remember the feverish hysteria of applying to nursing school--refreshing your email repeatedly, asking friends, and frantically calculating your GPA at ungodly hours of the night. When my acceptance came in I announced the news to friends and family with all the candor of your average collegiate. I was met with well wishes, congratulations, and interrogations on the program's rank, size, etc. Then, unexpectedly, I was met with something else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Meet the creators making their voices heard on Odyssey.

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week
Why I Write On Odyssey

At Odyssey, we're on a mission to encourage constructive discourse on the Internet. That's why we created the response button you can find at the bottom of every article.

Last week, our response writers sparked some great conversations right here on our homepage. Here are the top three response articles:

Keep Reading... Show less

"Arthur's Perfect Christmas" Is The Perfect Holiday Special, Move Over Charlie Brown

Arthur Read is here to deliver the real meaning of Christmas.


As the holiday season draws nearer, many of us find ourselves drawn to the same old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and the perennial favorite, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." However, I would like to suggest an overlooked alternative, "Arthur's Perfect Christmas." It is a heartfelt, funny, and surprisingly inclusive Christmas special that deserves more recognition.

Keep Reading... Show less

Reclaim Your Weekends From The 'Sunday Scaries' With 'Self-Love Sundays' Instead

Everyone needs a day to themselves sometimes.

Reclaim Your Weekends From The 'Sunday Scaries' With 'Self-Love Sundays' Instead
Olivia DeLucia

Laid back and taking it easy — sometimes that is the motto we all need after a busy week. Sunday scaries? Yes, they are valid – but you know what else is? A Sunday full of self-love. A lazy Sunday spent doing what you feel needs to be done to ease into the next week. Self-Love Sundays are a guilty pleasure that isn't only essential for our mind, and body, but are also a surprisingly proactive way to devote the upcoming week with a clear mindset.

So, what is a more suitable way to dedicate your week's end than a beautifully, connected playlist to accompany your face masks and journaling? Cheers, to a Self-Love Sunday (and a playlist intertwined with it to match). (Please note: "Sunday Morning" isn't included in this list, due to the obvious, but feel free to blast it anyway, we know you want to).

Keep Reading... Show less

On Sunday Morning

Breaking Free

Sunset Girl

The sun rose and peeked through the sheer curtains. Rose’s alarm shrieked. The loud bells caused her phone to jump on the side table. It was time for her to get ready for church. Blindly reaching for her phone, she shut the alarm off and pulled at the covers providing her a cocoon of warmth and tossed them to the side. She swept her bare feet across the bed to touch the cool wooden floor.

Rose softly tiptoed to the corner of the bedroom to grab her clothes dangling on the arm of the bedroom chair. Scooping all of the items of her chosen outfit, she headed to the bathroom hoping that she wouldn’t drop anything.

Round, piercing blue eyes stared back at her in the bathroom mirror. Rose fingered the wrinkles forming around her eyes. So many of them bore signs of laughter and smiling. Slowly dropping her hands, she couldn’t remember the last time she laughed in her home with Tom. Shaking her head as if to erase the negative thoughts, she reached for her makeup bag and went through her regular routine.

Applying her favorite deep rose lipstick, Rose headed downstairs to make her coffee and bagel to take with her to church. The smell of dark-roast coffee swirled in the air as Rose sliced her cinnamon raisin bagel. Hearing the Keurig sputter with the fresh brew, Rose found the interruption of the stillness comforting. The toaster signaled that her bagel was done with a soft pop. It had a delicious golden brown color. Placing the bagel on the counter, she generously spread honey nut flavored cream cheese across both halves. Gathering her bible, notebook, and pens from the side table on the porch she stuffed them into her purse. Purse hanging on her right shoulder she juggled her coffee and bagel in both of her hands as she headed to the garage.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments