how to survive as a freshman in college

8 Ways To Make Your Freshman Year Your Best Year Yet

How I, a once angsty freshman, made the most of my first year experience.

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In the months leading up to my first day of college, I buried my head in my laptop, scouring the internet for articles like this. Articles which would essentially teach me how to be a college freshman without being in college yet. I read through "Freshman Year Survival Guides" religiously, hoping that my first year of college would not stray from the information provided to me. What became clear to me quickly was these articles compiled helpful information about academics or dorm decor, but they did not touch on how to live your best life while struggling through your first year. This is where I come in. I am here to tell you eight ways to make the most out of your first year, so that you can walk away from your university CERTAIN that you made the right choice.

1. Bedroom dance parties (this is a requirement, not an option)

Britney Spears Circa 2010? Blaring. Lights? Off. Roommate? Gone. Your fantastic moves? Ready to be busted. Every day, dedicate a portion of time to dancing to your favorite music in your dorm room. Whether you are a solo act or you invite some friends to join, dancing every day is proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. I challenge you to try this at least once, and I guarantee that you will be smiling the entire time. If anything, you can take this opportunity to perfect your moves for a night on the town.

2. Get out of the dorms

The dorms: a new home in which there is no one to tell you not to sit on your bed and watch soap cutting videos for 6+ hours. In your dorm room, there are infinite numbers of excuses that you will come up with to stay in bed and do absolutely nothing. This new-found sense of freedom is quite enticing and fairly dangerous. It is your job as a freshman to make a conscious effort to leave your dorm room as much as possible and explore your campus. Whether it be to study or to grab a snack, its almost impossible to be inefficient when you're away from your bed.

3. Make time for yourself

It's easy to get caught up in studying, drama, or partying (pick your poison), so it is crucial that you take some time to be alone and relax. Watching your favorite Netflix show or getting that extra hour of sleep can help reset your brain and help you function at your maximum efficiency when you're doing the more important things. So do a face mask, meditate, buy yourself a nice meal, and treat yo self for putting in the hard work.

4. Pursue your passions

Whether it be painting, singing, volleyball, video games, or underwater basketweaving, dedicate a little bit of time each week to activities that purely make you happy. The majority of college students enter college dead set on a career path and slowly realize that it is not quite what they expected. If this happens to you, you can fall back on your passions, which can potentially turn into your career. You'll never know if you don't pursue them.

5. Travel

Jump on any opportunity to travel. Coming from across the country, I used my first semester of freshman year as an opportunity to explore 5 different states in the midwest and explore the land up north. Obviously, never let travel get in the way of academics, but why not explore new areas and dabble in new cultures while you have the chance? Whether it be a road trip, a plane or a train, use an adventure to escape any school-related stress.

6. Trust your gut

That uneasy feeling you have when you enter a new situation? Trust it. When it comes to classes, friendships, love life, or anything in between, TRUST YOUR GUT. Don't doubt yourself because you are in a new environment. At this point in your life more than ever, you have the power to make decisions based on how you, and only you, feel.

7. Do something that makes you uncomfortable

As a freshman, you are constantly told to join groups that are similar to stuff you did in high school. Although this is a great way to facilitate the transition from high school to college, it solely surrounds you with people with similar interests. Universities are flooded with people of different states, countries, cultures, and backgrounds, so use this opportunity to meet people and do things that are completely out of your comfort-zone. You only have one shot at making your freshman year count. Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, and remember to appreciate every moment.

8. Put yourself first

For almost every student, college is the first time that people gain absolute control over their own lives. One day, you are living under your parents household, and the next, you are making life decisions on your own that can change the course of your future. Gaining this responsibility means that you have to always put yourself first. Make decisions that will benefit you and your future, and never think that any opportunity is out of reach.

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An Open Letter To My Daughter As You Leave For College

You're going to do great things, believe in yourself.
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Today was your first day of college, the first day of a new chapter in your life. I know you have to be filled with so many emotions right now. There is so much I had left to teach you and show you and tell you. Here's a few things I want you to remember.

First, I know the house already feels empty without you here. From the moment you came into my life, I knew God had blessed me with a lifelong friend. Life was not always easy however I knew I always had you. You are and will always be my world and my reason for my existence. I know we have not always seen eye to eye on everything and we have had some fights, but please know everything I did was for you. I did the best job I could raising you and, even though it may not have seemed like it at the time, the rules I set and the times I grounded you were for you, to help you not hurt you. One day when you have your own children and you will understand that. You will set rules and boundaries for your children to teach them so that they grow up to be responsible, respectable adults.

College is going to be a whole new experience for you and I know you will excel. You have an amazing future ahead of you. Family is the most important and most precious thing in your life. You may not always see eye to eye with them, but no matter what they will always be there for you.

Always be proud of where you came from. No matter where life takes you, your hometown will always be home.The friends you make in college will be lifelong friends. However, just remember that not everyone you meet is your friend and there are people out there that will try to hurt you in some way or another.

Know that I am always here for you. I will be by your side and will support you in all you do. You will meet people who will do anything to watch you fail. Don't let them get to you. There are going to be times when you are scared, just know that even though I may not always be with you physically, I am always by your side cheering you on in everything you do. Follow your dreams no matter where life takes you. Being happy is one of the most important things in life. You are going to stumble, you may even fall but you have to pick yourself up, dust off and try again. In the words of Rascal Flatts "You get mad, you get strong. Wipe your hands, shake it off. Then you stand." That line will be relevant many times throughout your life, remember it.

You will succeed, I promise that. Your smile can light up a room and you have such a big heart. No matter what, never let anyone dull your sparkle. I love you so much and you will always be my baby no matter how old you get.

Make me proud, although you already have.

Love,

Mom

Cover Image Credit: Mother's and daughters retreat

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Now That Freshman Year Is Over, I Can See That Life DOES Go On And Get Better

It's a roller coaster, but it's worth it.

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To all the graduating seniors that are graduating high school, you will soon become a freshman. As a current freshman, I understand the joy and excitement of starting college. Who wouldn't? It is a fun, new adventure. However, once I got to college, my dream was ruined (yet improved) at the same time. To start, my original roommates hated me, so I moved out and dealt with that drama while adjusting to some hard classes (Chemistry, I am pointing right at you).

The worst week of college was when my roommates and I would fight while stressing over the mountain of homework I had to do. It worked out because I live with a better roommate and I am somehow managing the workload the best I can. But let's face it, everyone is struggling in college. Luckily, I have an amazing support system. In my Chem class, I ran into people I knew from other clubs, and though we started off as strangers, we became best friends. I mean, who else can I rant about my horrible Chem professor to? In fact, in most of my classes, I've been lucky to have or make friends because you can relate to each other in so many ways.

It is so hard to strike that work/life balance since my pre-nursing track requires a lot of courses. Some courses cause you to stress and second guess your life choices. But guess what? Life goes on and life gets better. Not all of my professors have been bad. It has been the opposite as most of them have been really good and fair. I know how hard it is to dwell on the bad grade or bad class but you can't. College makes it easy to go insane, especially when some classes are meant for weeding students out. No matter how hard a class is don't give up on your dream career but it is okay to consider if this is what you truly want to do. One bad day of studying won't define you, you will think you did worse than you probably did.

Do me a favor, believe in yourself and don't let the anxiety get to you. Try to have a solid work/life balance and enjoy yourself because before you know it freshman year will be over.

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