Student Life

Six Ways to Start Your First Year of College Off Right

Here are six ways to start your freshman year of college in a way that you will not regret

Student Contributor, Charles Schnell

August 23, 2022

Six Ways to Start Your First Year of College Off Right
Kick off college properly!
It’s the first day of school. Quick! Time to buy textbooks! And solidify your class schedule! And socialize! . . . And move into your dorm room. And go to orientation meetings. And go to any club or academic department interest meetings. And meet with your advisors. And phone home. And, and, and. . . What? It’s only been three days of classes? It feels like the whole year has already ended. The beginning of an academic year poses many responsibilities and threats to one’s tranquility. Here are six ways to start your freshman year of college in a way that you will not regret (by much. . . everyone needs a few regrets).
  1. Buy textbooks.
    Do not delay in buying textbooks. You’ll have a lot to do during the first weeks of college, and making a trip to the bookstore and bringing back so many books Southwest would charge you for overweight baggage is not something you want to spend a lot of time on. If you can, order them several weeks in advance from your college bookstore for pick-up. The pick-up option makes the textbook-acquiring process effortless. (Besides the heavy lifting. . .)
  2. Finalize your class schedule. The window to make changes to your schedule can be very tempting. You may have held total confidence in your schedule a few weeks prior, but none of that matters when your mind starts pondering, “Should I really take this class?” If you let the sudden impulses barraging your mind be your master, you’ll change classes everyday, which will involve more trips to the bookstore to return books and buy new ones. This is not something you want to be doing.
    Trust me, if you felt confident in your schedule and you do not have a good reason for switching (i.e. realizing you are unprepared for the college course or the instructor is awful), you ought to stay in the course!
  3. Socialize. Now, I’m not one for pressuring everyone to go out and make a million friends. If you lie to yourself and say it is impossible to be happy without an excessive number of friends, you’ll just end up making yourself miserable, unable to feel satisfied in your number of friends.
    You’ll end up selling yourself via friendship to many people who are bad influences and probably don’t care much about you. A few good friends makes life a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling than many bad, shallow friends. That being said, having at least a couple of really good friends (who are, naturally, good influences) will provide you with many fun moments and opportunities to explore your new college town (or show them your hometown!) Don’t be super shy, but don’t be peer pressured into being friends with poor influences, either. Be nice and confident, but also uncompromising in your morals and at least semi-selective.
  4. Move in! Unpacking, especially unboxing, can consume all your time and energy—more so your mental energy than your physical energy, I might add. Don’t stress out! (And if it does stress you out, just wait until packing back up at the end of the year!) Prepare yourself for the unpacking process! Coordinating with your roommate may also need to be on your to-do list. Who’s arriving first? How much are you sharing? Who sleeps when? Who studies when? Who’s buying the fridge? These questions and more await you!
  5. Attend orientation, club, and academic department meetings. Your college will doubtlessly organize orientation information sessions and fun events. Some will be required, some won’t. These are an opportunity to learn more about your school and possibly make some friends. Be ready and have a confident, good mindset. I assume most colleges have a club fair at the beginning of the year. You’ll be surprised at how many clubs there are. Joining a few can be a great way to pick up new hobbies and meet people with similar hobbies and interests. Finally, some academic departments may have interest meetings for prospective majors. Going to these can be a great way to learn about the programs you are considering, introduce yourself to some of the faculty, and also meet some fellow, like-minded college students.
  6. Phone home! Lastly, while college is a prime time to learn about the value and beauty of independence and perhaps your first opportunity to learn how to govern yourself wisely and confidently, do not completely throw your past out the window! Learn from your past. Make sure to phone your parents, your siblings, your loved ones, your friends, any one to whom you may have personal ties. At least some of these, and I would say most, are connections that will end up stronger and more long-lasting than those you make in college.
Best of luck in your first year! Stay strong.

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