“Starting over, then head back in.”

With the spring semester starting back up, I decided to reflect back on some of the most important college tips I’ve discovered over my first semester. I had many significant realizations, and would like to keep these in mind for myself, and others, as the second semester approaches.

1. Go to literally anything and everything that could possibly interest you-even in the smallest way.

From lectures, socials, youth groups, to informational meetings, if a club or organization grabs your attention, go! Yes, you may feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or maybe even a little out of place, but don’t be afraid to explore new options. Gather some courage, and approach someone you’re comfortable asking questions to. After starting up a conversation, these types of “ice-breaker” discussions can grow to be really beneficial and start great friendships.

2. Reach out to your professors and staff members; they really, really help.

Seriously. It may seem terrifying, but it’s their job, whether they abruptly display it to you or not, to assist you in succeeding. However, you must be responsible in setting up appointments to discuss concerns or questions—they pay off at the end of the semester when they give you those extra bonus points for your active participation and engagement in their class. Professors will, most likely, work with the students who are willing to work for their grade.

3. Go to study groups or study sessions.

These may seem even more terrifying than consulting a professor. You’re in a room full of unknown students being asked to discuss topics you may not know. However, I’ve found that oftentimes, graduate students may lead the sessions, and they definitely know their information on the subject(s). They’ve taken the tests, they’ve filled out the study guides, and most importantly, they’ve been in your shoes once. Take advantages of their knowledge: it saves you a lot of time and stress.

4. Create alone time.

Don’t lock yourself in your room on a daily basis, but find a balance to de-stress yourself. Your alone time doesn’t have to be silence in your confined dorm room, it can be outside by the collection of trees by the Starbucks. It could also be an activity—painting, drawing, listening to music, taking a walk—whatever it may be, set aside a time in your overwhelmingly busy schedule to do something mindless.

5. Focus on yourself.

Don’t dwell on the problems you face. College is difficult, and everyone struggles in someway with the transition, but it’s important not to lose sight of yourself. College is the perfect time to set goals, and learn about yourself in a way you never experienced before. You are granted a lot of freedom to be spent however you please, so don’t be afraid to try something new—you may be surprised with the outcome.

6. Exercise.

After a while, dinning hall food will start to mush into one large lump of tastelessness. You’ll catch yourself saying, “I’d rather starve than eat there again,” or the most popular, “let’s eat somewhere else.” So naturally, Panda Express, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, and those prepackaged snacks in your room become your new turn-to. The solution: hit the rec center that’s included in your tuition. Don’t let the gym intimidate you, however, just grab a buddy and take it slow. Small, short exercises actually go a long way, especially if you came from a very active lifestyle in high school. Not only does working out keep your body healthy, it makes you mentally stronger as well.

7. Get enough rest.

You’re in college, I get it. Pulling all nighters, staying up one, two, three, and then four hours past your “set” bed time, staying out late on school nights with no curfew—it’s fun. Until your body starts to slow down, and those late nights begin to drain your energy when you need it most during the day. While college allows you to set your own schedule, be sure to set another schedule to ensure you’re getting the proper amount of sleep. The best academic performances occur when one is well rested, and (gasp) that’s the actual reason you’re in college anyway!

8. Don’t take on too much too soon.

In high school you may have been able to balance three AP courses, an after-school sport, four clubs, being editor in chief of yearbook, and work a part-time job while being on honor roll, but college doesn’t quite work that way. Break your assigned work up. Trying to “get ahead” and complete three day’s worth of work in one evening is the definition of impossible, trust me. Even though college is full of opportunities, don’t stress yourself out right away trying to do everything at once.

9. Be bold.


10. Be 110% yourself.

You’re completely on your own, and can find out who you really are. Embrace your inner self, and see what happens. Don’t worry. You’ll find your niche. You’ll make friends. It all gets better and makes sense later, and it doesn’t matter how long that realization takes.

11. Greek life isn’t the “only way to get involved” in college.

If Greek life interests you, go for it, but if not, that’s totally okay too. There are over 300 different organizations on campuses to join. It may seem like the whole campus is Greek the first few weeks, but don’t be discouraged if you decide to try an alternate route. Typically organizations start meetings a couple weeks into the year, and go from there. Whatever interests you, try it. You make the choice that’s best for you individually: you’ll be happier that way.

Whatever the new semester brings, I hope these few discoveries/realizations stick with you and encourage you to stay true to yourself—and trust your gut. College is a wonderful privilege with many resources, and should be appreciated to the fullest. Goodluck!