Between meeting new people, adjusting to dorm life, and attending college classes, freshman year can feel quite overwhelming at times. It is completely natural to feel anxious or nervous during your first semester, however, once you get into a rhythm, everything becomes much easier. Here are just a few tips of mine to prevent feeling stressed or overwhelmed during those first few months:
Do: give everything and everyone a chance- college is a whole new ballgame, so you don't have to stick to the same activities you participated in in high school. If there's an organization fair, sign up for emails even if you're only slightly interested. If someone from class asks you to lunch, take the opportunity to meet someone new (you never know where/when you could meet your future friends).
Don't: feel compelled to do everything your first year. There is such a range of organizations and activities available on campus that you might want to join, however, you'll still have homework and other responsibilities to keep up with. I've heard that "3 is the perfect number" where you feel involved enough but not overwhelmed. Finding a balance between academics and social life is a great skill to pick up.
Do: go out. If partying is your scene, find a group of friends to go out with. If partying isn't your scene, there's plenty of alternatives to find both on and off campus. Part of the fun of freshman year is exploring the new city (and restaurants) around you, so take advantage of that.
Don't: feel bad saying "no." If someone asks you to go out the night before a major essay is due, it's totally fine to stay in. Taking some nights off will not make or break your social career.
Do: take advantage of office hours. Building professional relationships with professors and advisers may seem silly during your first year, but networking early will give you a major leg up when you need help or a recommendation.
Don't: be afraid to ask for help. If you're struggling in a class, there are plenty of resources to seek out. Find a tutor, ask a friend for help, stop in for office hours, and don't wait too long to do so. There's always someone willing to help.
Do: call home. Text your close friends back home, check in with your parents and grandparents every once in awhile, call your siblings to catch up. Facebook is also a great way to indirectly let your friends and fam know "hey all is good."
Don't: let home life interfere with college life too much. College is the time to build independence and start fresh. While it's great to stay connected to your home, don't let your home prevent you from moving forward. Some of the best life lessons are learned when you're challenged by yourself.
Do: find some "alone time" once in awhile. Between living in dorms, eating in dining halls, and working in libraries, privacy is a luxury in college. It's important to find some "me time" every so often to recoup with yourself.
Don't: be afraid to do things along. I promise you, no one cares if you eat alone, if you study alone, etc. I was extremely self-conscious of this during the beginning of the year, but then I realized that no one was even paying attention.
Do: take academics seriously. Freshman year is your first opportunity to really bump up your GPA, even if you're only taking introductory courses. So, build good study habits, go to class, and develop time management skills.
Don't: be too hard on yourself about grades. Remember, you're only human and you need rest, too. While grades are important, mental and physical health are as well. Pulling an all-nighter to study or finish a paper really isn't going to benefit you. So, if it's getting late, take a deep breath and go to bed. And don't forget to spend time with friends doing non-school related things.
These are just a few suggestions of mine as I complete my first two semesters at college. Essentially, remember to take care of yourself, find balance, and find confidence within yourself.