So, you're starting your first year! First and foremost remember to breathe. There's gonna be a lot going on so be prepared for some sensory overload.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is to prioritize academics! You will meet so many people and be provided so many opportunities but ultimately, none of it matters more than your studies, So, if you know you're not fully prepared for that calculus exam tomorrow and could study harder, maybe you should back out of going to that party. If you start off with bad habits, it will be so difficult to break them in the upcoming years. So take this time to build good study habits. Something that has personally worked wonders for me is studying in public study spaces like MLC or a library. After all, humans are social animals and having social pressure to study works wonders for a lot of people. Maybe you'll even find your special study spot or room that really works for you. (I would highly recommend the fourth floor of the main library or downstairs of Snelling).
Pick your classes wisely. It's crazy how much of a difference a good professor makes. And if you pick a class at 8 am, make sure you have the self-control to not skip half the semester. I knew there was no way I could have a class that starts before 10 am if I wanted to actually show up to class.
Don't just focus on making friends. It's also imperative to build connections with your professors! I know summer after freshman year seems like a long ways away, but it'll go by in a breeze. And when you're applying for internships or scholarships, you'll need them. It's also good for future opportunities. Building connections is also a good skill to have starting now in your academic career and in the future.
Try not to come in with a packed itinerary! Leave some space to relax or go with the flow. Yes, it's important to make use of as much of the year as possible but it's also important to take some risks and venture into things that happen on a whim. Be adventurous! It's important to have a schedule and be organized about your day but also maybe check out that obscure club you've never heard of.
Know that there is no right or wrong way to do it. You don't have to go out every weekend or join as many clubs as you can cram in. College is not the time to conform. It's actually the opposite. It's your time to figure out your own path in life; figure out what works for you.
Definitely get to know a few of your hall-mates. Not only is this a great way to build a support system, but they'll also come in handy when you desperately need an Advil or someone to just stay in and chill with.
That's all I have to leave you with for now. Don't be afraid to reach out to older students if you ever need advice. We've been through it and we know it can be rough. You will have off days, that's normal. Prioritize your mental health and take care of yourself. Watch out for any bad behaviors and don't let that become a habit.
As my favorite teacher always says, go forth and be brilliant!
An upcoming college sophomore.