What to Expect Your Freshman Year
Your First Year of College
You’re about to start college--find out what to expect!
It’s completely normal to feel mixed emotions when you arrive on campus for your first year of college: nervous, excited, overwhelmed, adventurous, shy, thrilled. Embrace how you feel and trust that your fellow classmates are going through the same thing. It won’t take long before your new surroundings start to feel like home. To help you overcome your going-to-college jitters, we put together our top tips to help you make the most of your first year.
Expect to adapt to a new teaching—and learning—style
Chances are, you can expect your college classes to be more difficult than the ones you took in high school. That’s okay—being challenged to learn and grow is why you’re there! One thing that all students should be ready to adapt to is a change in teaching style. College professors assume you’re in their class because you want to be, and they expect you to take full responsibility for your own performance. In high school, your teachers may have assigned a paper, for instance, and then reminded you of its deadline as the date approached. College professors, on the other hand, often deliver a syllabus with assignments and their due dates at the outset of the semester, and it’s up to you to remember deadlines and to complete your work on time. In other words: in college, there’s less hand-holding.
Think of it as empowering! With the freedom to manage your time and schedule, you’ll learn a lot about what works or doesn’t work for you. Maybe you’ll find that a paper planner is your go-to organizer, or that using a scheduling app works best. Without the structure of a 8am-to-3pm class schedule, you might find that studying or doing homework in the morning is easier for you than doing it at night. Maybe you get more work done at the library than in your dorm room. Maybe you’ll start a study group and meet new friends. On top of that, you’ll be able to enroll in the classes you want to take. In college, you’ll be able to create your own structure and discover what helps you excel. The possibilities are up to you, and that’s a great thing.
It’s the perfect time to try something new
College is not just an academic endeavor. One of the greatest opportunities you have in college is to explore and discover your interests outside the classroom. You’ll have access to a wide array of student organizations and clubs, from politics to theater, newspaper to radio, athletics to community engagement and beyond. Whatever you’re interested in, you’ll be able to find like-minded individuals who share your passion. And if the club or organization doesn’t yet exist? Find out how to create it! College campuses are full of resources and people who want to help you succeed, making it the perfect place to try something new. Whatever you choose to do, spending time with your classmates outside the classroom will help you make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your school and community.
Get familiar with campus resources
Almost everywhere you turn on campus is an office, program, or person whose role is to support you. You’ll find career centers, academic resource centers, tutoring offices, health centers, learning labs, libraries, campus safety centers, and more. One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success in college is to seek these resources out and get an understanding of how you can benefit from them.
Friendships form quickly, but it’s okay if you don’t find “your people” right away
As first-year students, you and your fellow classmates all have one big thing in common: you’re new here. With everyone in the same boat, people tend to be pretty open and friendly, especially in the first few weeks of school. It’s a special time when everyone is feeling a little bit excited and nervous (and maybe a little homesick). In these circumstances, it’s easy to bond. Once classes pick up and friendships form, some of that social atmosphere wears off. That doesn’t mean meeting new people, being friendly, and making connections won’t happen; it’s just easier in the beginning. So come to campus with an open mind, and get ready to introduce yourself to the people you meet!
That said, you may not find your “group” right away. Close friendships aren’t formed overnight. It may take some time—and the process of joining different clubs, taking new classes, sitting with new faces at dinner—before you connect with people who you end up feeling close to. Be patient and stay positive!
Want more insight into what to expect when you start college? Check out more tips for freshman year here.