The 3 Most Important Things You'll Learn During Your First Semester Of College

The 3 Most Important Things You'll Learn During Your First Semester Of College

The first three and a half months go by in the blink of an eye; here's how to make the most of it.

Bryce Richter
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It’s already December, and I can’t tell you how I made it to the end of my first semester of college already. I don’t know how the past three and a half months just flew by in an actual blink of an eye. It’s been quite the experience, and I really felt that it was time that I reflect on my college life thus far and offer some advice along with it:

1. You will not have a group of friends right away.

You most definitely will not have a best friend right away. You probably won’t feel comfortable around these new people you see every day until there's some sort of barrier that is broken and walls start to come down. People are still caught up in their lives that they left back at home and there is so much angst and excitement that real friendships can’t be formed at the very beginning. You may get extremely lucky and end up becoming best friends with your roommate. You may find a friend the first day of class. However, you will not feel like you’ve found the right group of people to surround yourself with right away. I have done my best to be open-minded and get to know all the different type of people I come across on a day to day basis. I have gotten to know so many people extremely well. I can confidently say that I know who I will stay close with and I know who I may lose touch with in the upcoming years. I am grateful to UW-Madison for giving me such an incredible group of friends so early on, but it took some time, and it’s still in progress. Anyone who is a first semester freshman in college that says they met their best friend forever who knows everything about them and is going to be their bridesmaid at their wedding is either A) lying or B) has pretty sucky home friends. It’s still the beginning stage of friendships, and yes, I love these people and am so #blessed to be surrounded by them every day, but there’s still so much more time to get to know each other and experience things together.

2. College is not high school, so I suggest you leave your high school baggage at the door before walking into to your dorm.

No one in college should be looking for drama and people should definitely not come into college with a bad attitude when meeting new people. I’ve had my share of times dealing with people who believe they can still act like they are in high school. High school is the first time that us freshman are officially on our own, and treated like adults. We must live up to the expectations and do our best to rise above the adolescent day that are now behind us. Of course, we will make mistakes and there will definite learning experiences since no one knows exactly how to “adult” at first, but you won’t be able to have healthy relationships unless you let go of the ones that are at home. It was hard for me to get over the fact that high school was over and that I wouldn’t be seeing my best friends every day, so my friendships in college weren’t developing so much. As soon as I let go of the past four years, I was able to focus on creating the next four.

3. College courses are nothing like high school classes.

The workload is different, the teachers are different, and the time spent studying is definitely different. Time management is the key to doing well in college. In high school, it is easy to get away with procrastinating. You could push off a paper ‘till the day before. You can study the night before an exam. You can’t get away with these practices in college. In high-school, there are a lot of worksheets, quizzes/tests and overall just busy work. My first homework assignment in college was a reading, and I had no idea what to do. Do I take notes? Do I highlight? I emailed my T.A. because I was so confused. Oh, and in college, there are professors and then there are Teachers Assistant’s (T.A.). Professors give lectures on the general information, meanwhile, a T.A.’s job is to clarify any inquiries students may have and they grade all the assignments. So, after emailing my T.A., I learned that in college the only homework that you get outside of a math or science class involves just reading and grasping the overall concepts taught in class. I’ve realized that if I want a good night's rest and if I want to do well in my classes, I can’t read all of the homeworks. For some classes, you go to lecture and you don't need to read the homework, and some classes you need to read and go to lecture. It’s all a learning process.

Overall, my first semester of college has been filled with laughs, cries, and so many learning experiences. No one comes into college knowing how to “college”, but someway, somehow, you get the hang of it. Second semester, I’m excited to meet you.

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