For the sake of redundancy, I’ll skip the common college freshman advice to leave your door open in the residence hall and actually go to class. Both great tips (and you should definitely do those things!), but I know you’ve heard it all before. As a recent college graduate and former freshman orientation leader, I have some experience in recognizing the advice that college freshman need to hear and what they are sick of hearing. With that being said, here are four general ideas that I have discovered to be essential to starting your college experience off right and setting the foundation for a transformative four(ish) years.
Four Pieces of College Advice for Freshman
It’s okay to be excited, nervous and eager all at the same time. In fact, that’s normal. Finally experiencing the glorified college lifestyle and acquiring the newfound freedom that comes with it is all very exciting, but can quickly become overwhelming. Take some time to get yourself adjusted and recognize that you are experiencing a lot of change. Don’t be discouraged by intermittent feelings of homesickness or panic about how things are going. Change unleashes a lot of feelings of uncertainty but, if you embrace it, you will gain valuable insights about yourself and the world around you. It will all be worth it, just give it time!
Don’t think you are too cool for school
I mean this in every sense of the word school. You are not to cool to study, go to office hours, or raise your hand in class. You are also not too cool to participate in cheesy orientation games, show enthusiastic school spirit at sporting events, or join clubs that interest you. These are the things that college is all about! Far too often I have seen new students come in – with what I can only describe as a bad attitude – and miss out on having the full college experience. Recognize that you are incredibly fortunate to be where you are and put in the effort to learn, socialize, and engage every day. That’s cool.
Take choosing your major seriously
Making an informed decision about choosing your major is a very important step in the process of finding your purpose in work and in life. Simply taking this process seriously is a great starting point, and you’ll be happy you did. Students who choose a major that aligns with their interests and values are more likely to complete their degree and get better grades. Start by making a conscious effort to explore fields of study that interest you. Take introductory classes, join clubs, talk to your academic advisor, and keep an open mind. Also, don’t get too hung up on majors that appear to lead to high-paying careers. Success comes from finding joy and meaning in the education and work that you pursue. The sooner you start searching for what truly matters to you, the better.
Take advantage of what campus life has to offer
I can not stress this enough. You will likely never have this many available resources, like-minded peers, mentors, opportunities to experience and learn new things (and the time to do so) outside of college, so take advantage of all that campus life has to offer. Use your resources, savor your independence, engage in meaningful ways with your peers, superiors, and community, and most importantly ENJOY IT!