Insider’s Guide to College

As college freshmen complete their first year, they’ve learned so much; not just from their textbooks but from their experience being out on their own. Looking back, three students share what worked—and what didn’t work—for them:

Brenna, who’s studying at a large state university in Virginia:

“As a high school graduation requirement, all seniors had to complete a senior project, and mine was a summer internship in my field. Completing the internship made me feel more sure about my major.

You might want to be involved in so many aspects around campus, but you can only do but so much. Realistically, I was already adapting to so many other things that I had to know what needed my focus the most.

At some point, whether you feel it now or not, you will get nervous to begin this new chapter in your life, but it’s really more exciting than anything. Enjoy it all, and don’t take any of that time for granted.”

Mason, who’s studying at a medium-sized state university in Virginia:

“I chose a roommate I already knew really well from high school. It was nice having someone who shared the same interests and who I knew I could get along with versus possibly getting a roommate who I disliked.

I wish I knew how important it was to develop those good study skills in high school.

When you get to college, learn that studying is a lot harder and more serious. You have to learn to put away your phone, concentrate harder and not let yourself get distracted by other people and especially all of the tempting parties that are always going on.”

Casey, who’s studying at a small private college in New York:

“I searched for a lot of information about the school I was going to, including clubs they have and information about the food and gym. I tried to find people who talked about the school on social media and just tried to find out the most I could so I knew what I was getting into. 

The first few weeks adjusting were hard. Not knowing anyone seemed really scary. It’s important to keep in mind that no matter what you are doing after high school, it is a change and takes adjusting.

Get involved. Joining clubs is great. You meet people with similar interests and can learn a lot of tips and advice. I met my closest friends through a club. Also, freshman year, you have more free time than future years, so it’s definitely a good time to join a bunch of clubs and figure out which you like.

Get involved in something that is career- or resume-building. You could meet upper classmen who can give you helpful tips about your classes, major and the campus. You also could network, which can help you get a job when you graduate. Many freshmen overlook this, thinking they are just freshmen and they don’t need to worry about jobs yet. But it will be extremely beneficial to get a jump in the professional world, and you’ll learn a lot.”

The first few weeks, introduce yourself to a lot of people. Leave your room’s door open. You’ll be surprised at the people you will meet.

Stay active and eat well. Going to college is a whole new experience. At times, it can get really stressful and overwhelming, so it’s important to make sure you save time for doing things that you enjoy, whether it be a hobby, a sport or just having an early Netflix night.” 

Next: 3 Ways to Prepare for College

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