What Nobody Is Going to Tell You About Freshman Year

What Nobody Is Going to Tell You About Freshman Year

What no one will tell you about your first step to adulthood.

Attending college for the first time is a time filled with high expectations, excitement, nerves, and a lot of hope for the future. If you were anything like me, you were lucky enough to get accepted into your dream school with a lot of high hopes about the upcoming year. I couldn’t wait to move into my freshman dorm, no matter how little or crappy it might have been, I was undoubtedly excited. The year was fresh (literally) and I couldn’t wait to start living a college lifestyle and meet the people I was going to be friends with for the next four years of my life and hopefully even longer. I had never been so excited about going back-to-school shopping and started packing and preparing for the move weeks in advance.

I had this image in my head of what freshman year was going to be like and it looked a lot like something you would see on an ABC Family or MTV show rather than what the reality of freshman year really was. I would be sitting here lying to you if I told you my freshman year was the best year of my life and to expect to have a year full of parties and fun with no responsibilities. The fact of the matter is, freshman year is your first real step into adulthood. It is your first unsheltered, uncensored, version of the real world that your parents (for the most part) have no control over. While this truly is an exciting thing, if you’re not prepared for it freshman year can be a lot more stressful than expected.

I wish someone told me that the people I met the first week of school weren’t going to be my best friends the whole year and not to take it to heart when they stop talking to you. You meet SO many people your first few weeks of school and you want to be friends with literally all of them. But in college, unlike high school, you probably won't see those same people every day so maintaining relationships takes a lot more work than before. To be honest, you may forget what it was like to actually make a new friend, especially if you were friends with the same people all through high school.

I wish someone told me that my study habits in high school absolutely will not hold up in college. When you were told to “read the text” in high school for homework, you wrote “no homework” in your planner for that day. Reading your text book in high school was actually laughed at in most situations and if you didn’t have an end of the year freak out about where your text books were, you were doing it wrong.Read your textbooks; every page, every chapter. Write everything down, from notes to homework, it’s all important.

I wish someone told me the “freshman 15” was absolutely not a myth. Despite the fact that I spent countless nights in our campus gym, the freshman 15 was still gained and stayed. I couldn’t tell you why or how this happens, but expect to gain a few pounds your first year of college. Whether it’s from all of the campus cookies you couldn’t have passed your final without or from all the delicious new food options, expect to be a few pounds heavier when returning home for Thanksgiving. And most importantly, know that you don’t look any different despite how you feel, and know that this will most likely happen to everyone.

I wish someone told me that it’s OK to say no to people. After you get to know your hall mates and become closer with the people you’ve met your first few weeks of college, you quickly learn that there is always something going on. Learn that you don’t have to agree to attend everything someone invites you to. If you need to stay home and study, speak up. Don’t just say yes to please someone or because you feel like you will lose that person as a friend if you say no. Learn to put you and your needs first, and if someone judges you because you decided to study rather than go out, so be it. You’re here to learn not to socialize. It's OK to decline peoples offers.

I wish someone told me to go to class no matter how tired I was. Fun fact about college: you don’t technically have to go to class if you don’t want to. But for the sake of your grades, please go to class. You only get the chance to learn the material once, and you will be tested on the lecture material whether you were there or not. One tired day may cost you a good grade in the class, no joke. Go to every class you can and take detailed notes. (Tip: you can usually take pictures of the slides/diagrams as well, it helps a lot.)

I wish someone told me that only my true friends from high school will remain my friends in college. Losing contact with high school friends is a given in college. Even the people you swore were your closest friends may forget about you in the craziness of freshman year. The good news is you are at a school with thousands of people looking to make new friends and they will fill the empty spaces that old ones left.

I wish someone told me to be careful at parties. Although it is very rare something bad happens, it is true that parties aren’t the safest place. Especially for freshman, it’s easy to just go to the party that everyone else is going to without knowing anything about the place or who is going to be there. Look out for your friends and stay together. Navigating a college town at night is scary and can be dangerous. Know where you are going beforehand and always have a way home. Don’t always trust people you have just met and never leave a cup unattended.

I wish someone told me my grades aren’t going to be as great in college as they were in high school. Expect your GPA to drop at least half a point, usually. You’re going to have a lot of distractions in college and a lot less structure in your schedule. Keeping a balance truly is a difficult task and your grades aren’t going to always be what you want them to be. You will learn the perfect combination to keep your grades and yourself happy. Give it some time and don’t beat yourself up if you get a C in a class or two. You have three years to make up for it.

I wish someone told me that getting homesick is completely normal. The first few spells of homesickness I had scared me to death. I was afraid that if I was homesick it meant that I didn’t like the school I was at or that something was wrong or missing. This is usually not the case even though it may feel that way at times. You’re going to miss home no matter how much you wished your way out of it from day one. Home is what is familiar to you and what you know and it’s easy to crave that when you’re somewhere completely different. Don’t let it get the best of you and just know that a call home will fix anything and everything. Don’t be afraid to call your parents and friends from home. They miss you, too.

I wish someone told me that you only get one freshman year at the college of your dreams so live it up and learn your lessons. Have the time of your life, make all of the friends you can, join clubs and organizations you’re passionate about, get involved on your campus and in your community, and take nothing for granted. You only get to do college once (if all goes well) and you’re paying to be here and get an education. Make the most of every situation and learn about yourself and the people around you. There is so much to be done and so much to learn in your four years here but especially the first. Make the most of it and don’t forget your morals or who you are!

Cover Image Credit: Cailin Austin

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What I Wish I Knew Before College

A few tips to help out.

There are a few times in my college career. so far, that I wish I could have automatically known the solution for before I came across it, but obviously, that isn't how the world works. I thought you might be able to relate to a few of these, so here they are. I hope they can give someone a little extra heads up.

Changing your major or being undecided isn't the end of the world.

This may be an odd one to some, or others may read this and think "well duh", and I do too now, but I only recently started believing this. I came in to college thinking that I had to have the next ten years of my career all mapped out or I wouldn't be successful. As many students experience, I had a small freak-out when I thought I could never succeed in my chosen career, so on a whim, I changed my major to something I knew I wouldn't be passionate in. I look back now and wish I just felt okay not knowing. It is better to be okay with not knowing exactly what you want to do versus feeling as if you'll fail if you don't have a plan written in stone.

Spending time alone isn't to be feared, and it is actually kinda nice.

I used to think that I could never eat a meal by myself or do homework alone, but as time in college went on and I realized how different schedules are, I welcomed the times I could take to do things alone. It not only taught me to be more independent, but I started enjoying my own company. Don't get me wrong, I would be with my family and friends always and be the happiest, but now I feel like my life will go on if I have to spend some of my days with just me, myself, and I.

Planner Planner Planner Planner

Even though I had one in high school, I never realized how amazing planners actually were until I got to college and got serious about using mine. The minute I buckled down and actually started writing stuff down, I became 100000% more productive. Not even being dramatic: actually seeing in my own writing, even though that may sound odd, exactly what was due and when, I began getting on top of school work and actually did my homework early. Honestly, invest and you will see a difference.

Cover Image Credit: achievalife.com

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5 Study Tips To Get You Real Results, For Real This Time

Don't study longer, study smarter.

As I procrastinate studying for my next exam, I figured I’d share some of my most commonly used study tips. It’s so rewarding to finally see your hard work pay off when you find a study method that works for you.

1. The Forest app

This app lets you plant a tree when you want to focus and prevent yourself from using your phone. You set a period of time to focus and if you touch your phone or leave the app before the time is up, your tree dies. It’s a great visual way to give yourself an incentive to focus. You can also use virtual coins to plant real trees, so you’d be benefiting the environment with your studies too!

Other tools like Google Chrome extensions that block your distracting websites can also be super helpful in forcing yourself to focus. One of my favorites is called Stayfocusd, which will hold you accountable and make it so you can no longer make excuses.

2. Underline/highlight

I like to print out my lecture slides and underline important information. It’s also helpful to print out lectures because you can annotate them with extra information that the professor throws in or to put concepts in your own words. It’s better to try to explain it in your own words so you can better understand the concept rather than just copying a definition or diagram straight from the lecture or textbook.

3. Write and rewrite!

After underlining the important information in my lectures, I write all of it down on a sheet of paper to create a summary sheet. You can make it all pretty if you like with bubbles and boxes around certain topics and different colored pens, whatever works for you! Just make sure you aren’t spending more time decorating your sheet than actually studying the content. If I have time after, I type up the notes and save it to my desktop. This is also helpful for when I want to upload it on to OneClass, a place to upload and view notes from students all over. You can also rack up points to redeem “unlocks” to access other students’ documents or to earn gift cards or cash rewards.

4. Flashcards!

Flashcards have recently become my life. They are especially helpful when you have a class with a lot of terms or dates to remember, such as psychology or American government. Instead of making them on paper and carrying around hundreds of index cards, I like to use Quizlet, which lets you make online flashcards for free.

The “Learn” option is my favorite because it uses different methods to test whether you’re retaining the information. There are also other options to test your knowledge and retention. It’s available both online and on an app so you can take your flashcards with you and study on the go!

5. Start at least four days in advance!

I used to cram all of my lectures in the night or two nights before my exam, and then I would yell at myself for my less than satisfactory grades. But ever since I started studying a week or so in advance, my grades have drastically improved while my stress levels have dramatically dropped. Your brain can’t retain that much information in such a short amount of time, so spread out the information over a period of a week or even longer if you have the time.

Maybe make a study schedule and plan out how many lectures or chapters you have to get done each night. Procrastinating is hard to overcome, but once you do, your future self will thank you. The feeling you get from doing well on an exam is something you’re going to want to feel again, so you just might get that extra kick of motivation to get you started.

Good luck on your exams! Remember that just getting started is probably the hardest part. Put in the work and time, and see the fruits of your labor reward you.

Cover Image Credit: Startup Stock Photos

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