An Open Letter Of Advice For Incoming College Freshmen And Sophomores

An Open Letter Of Advice For Incoming College Freshmen And Sophomores

Here's everything you need to know to survive your first half of college.

Dear Incoming College Freshmen and Sophomores,

Surviving college is no easy feat. In college, you are thrown a variety of challenges that are meant to foster growth, character, and responsibility. Trying to figure out who you are, what you want your career to be, all the while trying to cultivate lasting friendships and maintain high grades can be daunting. What I’m trying to say here is that college can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have in your life - if you know what the heck you’re doing.

More times than not, there undoubtedly has come a time where as a college student you’ve wondered to yourself, “Is there a ‘How to’ manual for college students… that’s written by college students?” Well, guess what, my dear reader, as a sophomore-soon-to-be junior in college, I am here to tell you that I will act as your guide on “how to” manage as incoming freshmen and sophomores.

The following are purely my tidbits of advice and opinions on how to survive and be successful in college. Take whatever advice that seem appealing to you to heart. I realize that not everyone’s college experience is or ever will be the same, but I hope that you learn something new from the list of advice that I prescribe below.

To Incoming Freshmen:

  • Learn how to time manage… FAST!
    • As a freshman, you’re going to realize pretty quickly that high school is nothing compared to college. You’re given numerous deadlines, homework assignments… it’s just a constant stream of work. The best way to handle all this is by learning how to manage and prioritize your time. For me, I use Google Calendar every day and plan out the entirety of my days and weeks. Prioritize your classes and schedule time to study/do homework. And sure, perhaps you’ll be attempted to slack off and go socialize with your fellow college students - or in my case, stop doing homework and continue to binge watch Black Mirror on Netflix. But hey, slack off on your own peril. If you continue to procrastinate and slack on time management, before you’ll know it, you’ll have ungodly amount of homework to catch up on and you’ll wonder how you got there in the first place.
  • Join clubs
    • Joining clubs helps you adapt to the college environment and get to know other students who have similar interests as you. As a member of seven, (yes,seven), clubs on my college campus, I can tell you that participating in clubs is absolutely necessary if you want to socially adapt to college life.
  • Learn about your campus’ resources - They are there for YOU!
    • As a sophomore, I wish that I had learned about all of the resources that there is to offer on my college campus early. Knowing that you have resources, whether that be research help at the library, tutoring services, etc. can mean the difference between a high grade or a barely passing grade.
  • Learn Email Functions
    • We’ve all seen the classic memes of professors writing short as hell responses to long student emails. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to know the difference between “reply” and “reply all” in class-wide email chains.
  • Learn Microsoft Office Basics: Word, Excel, PPT
    • Learn the basics of Microsoft Office via online tutorials, campus resources, or take a computer class that teaches these basics. Professors (and employers!) will expect you to know how to use Microsoft Office to some degree.

To Incoming Sophomores:

  • Career Planning & Internships
    • Start looking at what companies interest you in the beginning of your first semester in sophomore year. Begin career planning by laying out what you want to do in your perspective field. Learn the basics of job titles, salaries, as well as the top companies in your field. Doing so will help you decide where to apply for internships before you begin your junior year of college.
  • Master the Art of Resume Building
    • Let’s face it: Nobody’s perfect at resumes.But here’s what I’ve learned from a media textbook that I’ve bought this semester: Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to. Highlight skills and experiences you’ve acquired that will be useful to the employer. Make it obvious that you’re exactly what they’re looking for. (And if you’re not sure what that is, looking at the job descriptions posted by the employer.)
  • Portfolios: Keep everything!
    • Any and all projects, term papers, content you’ve produced should be kept in one place, preferably in digital storage via Google Drive, OneDrive, or DropBox. Keeping everything organized in one place will be helpful for portfolios that you’ll show prospective employers.
  • Networking: Build Professional Contacts
    • Get to know professors who’ve worked in your field of interest (*Pssst: They’re great for references in the future!). Get to know professionals in your field, make contact with them, ask questions and make good impressions. Doing so will help you land internships and entry level jobs once you graduate from college.

The ultimate piece of advice:

  • Going forward beyond your first half of college: Make the most of your college experience by taking action!
    • Don’t sit around waiting for good things to happen, make them happen for yourself! Take EVERY opportunity given to you! While it’s tempting to just strictly be in the moment and party like crazy in college (let’s not pretend that that doesn’t exist people!), college is not just about the partying. College is meant to be a time where you discover what you want to do for the rest of your life, what you like and don’t like, and who you will be in your future.

I hope you found these pieces of advice to be of help to you, dear reader. I’d like to wish you good luck in surviving college and as they famously say in the Hunger Games: “May the Odds May Be Ever in Your Favor.”


A sophomore-soon-to-be junior in college

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Popular Right Now

It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Power Of Journaling

Slowing down in a fast pace world.


In a world where everything is moving so fast pace, I have found comfort in taking small moments to reflect on the blurring images around me. I have always loved to journal, but recently I have found a system that works very well for me.

One habit that I have newly formed is creating a section in my journal that I like to call "Get Out of My Head." Life moves very fast and sometimes my thoughts can't keep up. This causes stress, anxiety, sadness and even the feeling of loneliness. I have created this section in my journal to be a safe place where I can just scribble down whatever is taking over my head, but there is a trick.

Like I stated previously, I have always loved to journal, but I never found ultimate comfort in it because I would go back and read what I wanted to remove from my mind. This was causing me to reexperience what I didn't want to. I highly suggest having a place in your journal that is essentially a flame for all th4e thoughts you want to rid of.

On the contrary, have a section in your journal where you love to look. I try and fill this section with happy thoughts, quotes, verses, and gratitude. This makes journaling and reading your entries something to look forward to, rather than not.

In conclusion, journaling is unique for everyone and it takes some time to figure out exactly the right way. But once you discover the safe place that journaling can be, it can change your life forever.

Related Content

Facebook Comments