Fresh out of my first year, I think I know just a little bit about this whole college thing. I could be wrong, of course. I could head back to Ole Miss in the fall and experience a completely different school with a completely different set of rules.
Still, I like to think I’ve got it figured out.
Some of you might be headed off to college for the first time in the fall, or maybe you know someone who is. Or, perhaps, you just got bored and decided to read an article written by some girl heading into her sophomore year of college. Whatever the case, I’m going to try to offer some advice about what to expect your first year and how not to let it overwhelm you.
So, unless you’re going to CoLin’s Simpson campus, the chances are that you’re going to be living in a dorm your freshman year. Maybe you’ve already got a close friend as a roommate, or maybe you’re rooming with someone you don’t know. I didn’t know my roommate; we met the day of orientation and then didn’t see each other until move-in two months later. Now, my roommate is one of my best friends. I don’t know how I would have made it without that girl.
When it comes to dorms, it’s kind of like shooting darts blindfolded: you don’t really know what you’re going to get. Maybe you get the dorm you wanted, or maybe the pipes in your dorm leak and the A/C is always broken. Whatever the case, make the most of it. You’re probably not going to have to live in the dorms your sophomore year, so being in them as a freshman is a great opportunity to make friends. No matter what size your campus is, you’re going to be seeing the people in your dorm every day and in many of your classes, especially your prerequisites. Get to know them. Seriously. You never know when you’re going to run out of something in your room or need a study partner for a big midterm or final.
Speaking of study partners, make friends with the people in your classes. Have a study group for major tests. Get to know your lab partner. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. Maybe your classmates took better notes than you, or vice versa. You’ll find that studying with a friend helps you learn the material better.
Get to know your professors. They don’t bite, and they’d actually love to help you if they see that you’re putting forth the effort in their class. Now, don’t just go up to them and ask them to change your grade. They don’t like that. But, if you ask if you can do anything to pull your grade up, they just might look over an older test or paper to see if they can give you a few extra points, or they might tell you what you can do on the next few assignments to help. Your college professors are nothing like high school teachers, but they’re not really as bad as some of your high school teachers made them out to be. Yeah, they won’t coddle you, but they’ll still help you out, and a lot of them are really cool.
Do everything in moderation. Have fun, but not at the expense of your education. Study, but don’t get overwhelmed by it. You don’t have to pull an all-nighter to study; in fact, studies show those don’t really help that much. I had a 4.0 G.P.A. both semesters my freshman year, and I never had to pull an all-nighter. I was still able to read the books I wanted, watch the tv shows I wanted, join clubs and hang out with friends while still studying and getting plenty of sleep because I managed my time wisely.
And you really are going to want to manage your time. Once you get to college, you’re going to find that you have a lot of free time. This isn’t high school where you had class from 8:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. Some days you might start class 8:00. Some days you might not start until 10:00. Then there will be days that you don’t have class at all because all of your professors miraculously canceled class on the exact same day, and you will sleep as much as your heart desires. Still, just because you have more freetime doesn’t mean you should just do whatever you want. If you’re not careful, time will get away from you, and, the next thing you know, you have an essay due at midnight, and you haven’t even started. My advice? Get a planner. Planning out your week and actually seeing when you have a quiz or homework due really does wonders. It’s nice to see when everything is so that you can pace out your studying and plan around it.
Don’t forget to talk to your parents. You don’t realize how much you miss them until you no longer live with them. They might get on your last nerve sometimes, but they love you and just want the best for you, and saying goodbye for the first time is hard. It doesn’t matter if you go home every weekend, twice a month, or once every blue moon. No matter what, your parents would really love a phone call.
So, what should you expect your first year of college? It’s going to be different, but it’s a good kind of different. You’re going to become friends with people who have the same interest as you and people who don’t share any interest with you. You’re going to have good days and bad days. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay. Stay true to who you are, but be open to new things. You never know when you might experience something life-changing.