17 Things I Learned My First Year of College

17 Things I Learned My First Year of College

Everything I learned and more my freshman year at Penn State.

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I know freshman year is quickly ending and it's sad to think about. But it was honestly one of the best years of my life, and I am so thankful I was able to experience it at the school of my dreams!

Here's a little reflection of everything I've learned my first year as a college freshman:

1. There is no reason to bring your whole wardrobe to school.

In all honesty, you will probably only wear the same 3 sweatshirts and 2 sweaters because you will have no energy to look nice when you have to walk 20 minutes to class.

2. Call your family.

This should be a given, but, call them. They miss you more than you even know, and you can always make time to call them, even if it's just to say hello.

3. Go to class.

Yes, I am guilty of skipping class every now and then, but it actually shows when you don't go—either by a poor participation grade or bad test score from missing critical information. Even if you are having a bad day, going to class and getting some fresh air on the walk there will help you. And if you are tired, treat yourself after class to Starbucks so you have something to look forward to.

4. Explore.

You are in a new place surrounded by complete strangers. Go to different places on campus, just for a walk or to go to study or get food. It's amazing the places you'll find just by taking one hour out of your day to discover something new.

5. Join clubs.

Whether it's for your major or just something you thought looked interesting, I promise you this is a great way to make new friends, build your resume, and have a ton of fun. I would be lost if I wasn't part of the clubs I am a part of this year. They have really helped me find myself and my place on this campus.

6. If you don't want to drink, you don't have to.

I know the party scene is a big deal in college and a lot of people do drink, but do not feel pressured to — even if your friends do. It's so easy to have fun sober if you surround yourself with the right people.

7. Take advantage of the gym.

It's completely free... So why wouldn't you use it? Even if you go just for a 20-minute ab workout, it'll be so beneficial to your health in the long run.

8. Don't walk alone ANYWHERE alone at night

I know it's hard, especially if your friends want to stay at a party and you are tired, but have someone meet you or set a time you want to be back by with your friends. A lot of colleges have systems in place on campus if you feel you are being followed or are just uncomfortable, but, trust me, it's just easier to walk with a buddy. You'll feel 10x safer that way knowing you are with someone you trust.

9. Ask for help.

As intimidating as some professors are, they really do want to see you succeed. They aren't here to fail you, they are here to help you get your degree just like they did at one point. So don't be afraid to go to office hours and get a little guidance on an assignment or review before the next exam.

10. It is okay to eat alone.

No one is going to judge. Go to the commons or any restaurant on campus the first week, you'll see so many people eating alone and find that it is completely normal and okay to do so. I do it all the time, and it's honestly so relaxing to have your own "me time" to eat and study between classes.

11. You will find friends.

I know it's scary and you'll think it'll be impossible to find a good group of friends. But you will. I was in the wrong group for so long my first semester and finally, I stepped out and found my best friends for life - literally. It might take some experimenting but don't rush it. You'll know the right friends when they come to you.

12. You might not like your roommate, and that's okay.

Everyone has their fair share of roommate problems, it's bound to happen. Living with someone entirely new isn't easy. But it is easy to coexist with them. You don't have to be best friends, you don't even have to talk. As long as you have a mutual understanding between each other it'll be okay. And your RA is there to help you. I've had to talk to my RA about some issues, and he's been so helpful. They just want to help you adapt and have a good freshman year, so don't be afraid to go to them if you have a pressing issue.

13. You can't focus in your bed.

All you'll want to do is sleep and watch some more Netflix. Hop off the bed, go to the library, and get some work done. You'll thank me later.

14. Keep up with your laundry.

Sunday is laundry day for everyone. Don't do it then.

15. Learn to save your money.

I know it's hard because there are all these new shops and new restaurants surrounding you. But give yourself a budget to spend every semester and don't go over it. It's really sad to look at your bank account at the end of every month and see that you've spent almost 100 dollars on food delivery.

16. Learn responsibility.

There is no one here on your back making sure you are doing everything you need to be doing. So stay organized and make a list of everything you need to do for the week and keep up with it so you don't fall behind.

17. Have fun!

It's your first year of freedom! Have fun with it! You'll have so many amazing opportunities and new chances, take advantage of every single one. Freshman year goes by so fast, and soon you'll only have 3 years left at the school of your dreams, so don't let it fly by without making the best memories of your life.

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If the name on your credit card does not match the name on your birth certificate, then you really need to re-evaluate your priorities.

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We seem to live in a generation where everyone wants to go to college.

It is nice to see that people want to invest in their education, but at what expense? It's easy to commit to a school, and it is even easier to get yourself and your parents into thousands of dollars of debt because you're "living your best life."

To me, it's pathetic if you're over the age of eighteen and you don't have some sort of income or responsibilities outside of homework and attendance. The old excuse, "I want to focus on school," is no longer valid. You can get all A's while having a job, and that has nothing to do with intelligence, but rather your will to succeed. "I don't have time for a job/internship," translates to, "I'm really lazy,".

You don't need to overextend yourself and work forty hours a week, but you should at least work summers or weekends. Any job is a good job. Whether you babysit, walk dogs, work retail, serve tables or have an internship. You need to do something.

"My major is too hard," is not an excuse either. If you can go out on the weekends, you can work.

The rigor of your major should not determine whether or not you decide to contribute to your education. If the name on your credit card does not match the name on your birth certificate, then you really need to re-evaluate your priorities.

Working hard in school does not compensate for having any sense of responsibility.

I understand that not everyone has the same level of time management skills, but if you truly can't work during the school year, you need to be working over the summer and during your breaks. The money you make should not exclusively be for spending; you should be putting it towards books, loans, or housing.

Internships are important too, paid or not.

In my opinion, if you chose not to work for income, you should be working for experience. Your resume includes your degree, but your degree does not include your resume. Experience is important, and internships provide experience. A person working an unpaid internship deserves the same credit as a student working full/part-time.

Though they are not bringing in income for their education, they are gaining experience, and opening up potential opportunities for themselves.

If you go to college just to go to class and do nothing else, then you don't deserve to be there. College is so much more than just turning in assignments, it is a place for mental and academic growth. You need to contribute to your education, whether it is through working for income or working for knowledge or experience.

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I'm A Girl In Engineering And It's Not As Easy As It Looks

It's not always easy being the only girl in the room.

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Coming into college, I knew I wanted to major in engineering, and I was well aware that I would be in the minority because I am a girl. I always thought that I would be ready and prepared for this, but after being in college for a few weeks, I started to feel a little weird.

I noticed that I was one of the only girls in my lecture classes and it was rare if any of us ever decided to speak up in class or ask questions. Seeing as I am very introverted, I also struggled to make friends in classes where people didn't just take the initiative and talk to me. My classes seemed quiet and seemingly being the only girl in the room as intimidating.

Luckily, I did find friends within my major and I have been able to get to know them and study with them. We are always able to run to each other for help if we need to, and we always go to each other for group projects.

So, it's not always bad being the only girl in the room, just know that it will be weird. You will have to work extra hard to make friends, but you will be ok. Talk to the person sitting next to you, make friends. It will be awkward, but in the end, it'll all be ok.

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