|half laughing and half crying because I’m a junior now|
Okay, bear with me guys: I’m reminiscing on my Freshman year again (AKA the best year of my life). For all you incoming Freshman, it’s going to be a wild ride. What I would give to be in your shoes again!
I had an amazing freshman year. I really did. I moved to a new place and made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Freshman year was my favorite year. I did make my fair share of mistakes and what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share them with my readers so you could learn from them?
- Not joining the activities that interest you. It’s okay to join something because your friend wants you to sign up with her. It’s not okay to not sign up for something you want to do in its place. Ultimately, signing up for activities that interest you is going to be what connects you to other people with the same interests. Sure, sign up for that club with your friend but make sure to sign up for that underwater basket weaving club you’ve had your eye on all summer.
- Not branching out. Don’t only hang out with your friends from home. College is the time that is meant for making new friends in those strange clubs you’ve just joined. I definitely made this mistake in my first semester, which is the time when most people start forming their friend groups. I made some amazing friends second semester and had the time of my life, but I really wish I would have branched out sooner. Make friends with the people in your hall; you’re living with them all year. Join Greek life or another group that makes you feel like you’ve found a family away from home.
- Not taking care of your body. I’ve been guilty of midnight pizzas (one large, yeah, just for me please) and 3 am Taco Bell runs just as much as the next girl, but it’s not a habit that I can afford to engage in regularly. Make sure you’re trying to eat those fruits and vegetables (I know, I sound like a mom) and try to develop a decent workout routine. I recommend Beachbody’s Insanity T25 or Kayla Itsines‘ guides. They are short workouts that will keep you in good shape if you pair it with good eating habits as well. They’re harder habits to form later on, so do it now while you’re on campus with access to a gym! Brush your teeth, take showers, drink enough water, get enough sleep. Lastly, don’t drink too much. College was really “my friend’s” first exposure to alcohol. This is the first time your parents won’t be harping on you to take care of yourself, so you have to make these good decisions on your own.
- Not developing good study habits. Like taking care of yourself, these habits are harder to form the longer you are in college. Freshman year is the time to develop good study habits while your classes aren’t too hard and you have time to adjust. Professors will make exceptions for you because you’re still new to the game, but when sophomore year rolls around, you can’t afford to make the same mistakes. Get organized. Make a game plan. Your future self will thank you later. (Also, strive for those A’s now while your classes are still easy. It’s a GPA boost down the line.) I recommend an agenda. My favorites are Erin Condren and Sakroots.
- Not going to office hours. Professors are literally allotting time for their students every day and they’re such an underutilized resource. Take advantage of it and go to office hours to meet them personally. It will feel strange your first few times, but go. I promise you it’s worth it. Introduce yourself early on and it will make it easier to go when you actually do have a question. They’re more likely to round your grade up if they know you and they may make a great reference later on when you apply for a job or grad school. (Pro tip: don’t introduce yourself after the first lecture. There will most likely be a line of students trying to do the same thing and the professor most likely will not remember any of them.)
- Deciding on a major too quickly. I changed my major four times in my first semester of college. I was pretty much undecided, so I took mostly general education classes. Freshman year is the perfect time to take the subjects you’ve never been exposed to, like astronomy or marine biology, and the subjects where you think you might already have an interest, like a foreign language. Most likely, there are a few classes you will have to take as a freshman, like English 101 or its equivalent. Enjoy these freshman (*read: easy) classes while you still can. College gets a lot harder once you start diving into those specific classes for your major.
- Not taking finals week seriously. Finals are serious in college. Maybe you took them really seriously in high school. Good for you. There is a reason that there are two weeks dedicated specifically for finals in college. In high school, I generally needed low grades on finals to keep an A. In college, the finals are much harder and, while manageable, it’s difficult to get anything lower than a A or B and still keep your A or B in the class. Take finals seriously. Study.
- Not managing your money. Make that savings account you’ve told yourself you would do for years and actually save money on the rare occasion you can. A savings account is literally such a valuable asset. Don’t touch it unless it’s an emergency. Make sure you know how much you’re spending on a regular basis so you don’t constantly have to call your parents for money. Budgeting is key, especially if you’re paying for things yourself. Have a food, transportation, and miscellaneous budget. This is also the right time to invest in a college credit card with a low credit limit to start establishing credit now.
- Not getting involved in your community. If you go away to college, this is the time to go out and discover a new place. Get involved in something you’re passionate about like the Humane Society or Big Brothers Big Sisters. This is your home now. Give back.
- Not going to school events. No one is above school spirit. Go to those events that are special to your university and gain pride for your school. You’ll meet so many people doing the exact same thing. At the University of Arizona, basketball season is the best season. We’re a basketball school and we’re proud of that. Of course, we love football season too. Your school, whether it’s private or public, has something similar (it doesn’t have to be a sporting event) where students bond over the love of their school. Go.
Also, take free food whenever it is offered. Especially breakfast food.