When I started my first year in college last year, I had no idea what to expect. I can remember the first night sitting in my dorm, my parents had just left, and thinking, "okay, so what do I do now?" College is truly a different world. At times I feel like I'm sitting in my own little bubble while the outside world keeps going. However, throughout the year I learned a few tricks to making my college experience a little less stressful and a little more fun.
Do NOT panic if you don't find your "group" quickly
I've always been a pretty big people person. I make friends fast and easily. However, I grew up in a smaller school district where the kids I graduated with were also in my kindergarten class. It took me a few months to figure out which people I wanted to be tight with. Honestly, most people find their people in the strangest ways. For me, my best friends just happened to all live on the same floor (while I was in a whole different dorm building).
AND, I would like to say that you may think that you're getting out of petty high school drama after you graduate... but just wait for the petty college drama. It's a whole new kind of stupid.
Figure out the best way you study
A lot of college graduates struggle in the first quarter. Many have never been in a class like a college lecture and fail to study correctly for the tests and quizzes. In high school, I was an honor student and my GPA never slipped below a 3.5. In my first quarter of college, y GPA was 2.9 and I thought I was going to die. I realized, that I wasn't doing well because (and this may seem like a silly reason) I was falling asleep during my classes. I was staying up too late studying and it was affecting my grades and my health. The next quarter I made sure to start my classes later and go to sleep earlier (and my GPA improved tremendously).
Go off campus every once in a while
If you're always cooped up in your dorm or on campus, you'll go stir crazy. Even if it's just a couple mile walk outside of campus, it's always good to get out of the college bubble. Like I said before, sometimes when you're away from normal society for an extended amount of time you forget how to function like a normal human being. I have family who lives in Bellingham, WA where I go to school and every time I would go to visit I would think to myself, "oh, right, not everyone functions on a caffeine-fueled, no sleep schedule."
Make sure you know that it's perfectly okay to not want to go out and get wasted every weekend, or at all. If you don't want to drink, don't drink. If you don't want to smoke, don't smoke. There can be a lot of peer pressure to go out and party but if that's not your deal, it's perfectly okay to stay in and watch Law and Order on Netflix all night. The same could be said for studying. If you have a lot of work to do and your friends want to go off campus and eat out, don't be afraid to tell them that you want to stay in. They'll still want to hang out with you, trust me.
One of the best things I did last year was join my hall council (which is like leadership for the dorms). I was given so many opportunities and made a lot of connections that I wouldn't have if I didn't go to the first meeting. I became the Hall Historian so I was my job to take and store pictures of different events going on around the dorm. At the end of the year I even won an award for being such a big part of my dorm's hall council. The friendships and connections I made through hall council will come with my for the rest of my college career and for the rest of my life.
I would never regret the mistakes I made during my year at college. I learned so much about life in only a few months. It's okay to mess up in life because you'll become a better person by learning from your mistakes. Last year was probably one of the most difficult years of my life for many reasons, but I would never change all the lessons I learned.