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.
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.