Student Life

The End of the Beginning: Advice from a College Freshman

Cherish Recera, Student Contributor

April 03, 2018

The End of the Beginning: Advice from a College Freshman
Gain advice from a college freshman reflecting on her experiences over the past year.
As I was preparing for my move to campus for college, I was fairly on my own in terms of figuring out what I needed in order to transition to the new setting. My parents did not have experience with United States’ college life, and so, as the eldest child of the family, I took on the role of the first full “run-through” of How to College. As my first year draws to an end, I’ve realized that my experiences in high school definitely made a large impact on the habits I maintain now. Because I worked tirelessly on my academics in high school, I continued to prioritize my academics in college and did not feel an increase in stress, even if the workload is comparably greater in higher education. My participation in activities, such as debate, continued despite the change in setting and in teammates. Taking the time to develop myself in high school and to figure out my interests allowed me to quickly acclimate to college life, which was beneficial in the long-term since that left me more time to enjoy myself while allocating the proper amount of time and resources toward my work.
One piece of advice I wish I knew coming into the university setting is anything regarding the importance of building self-care into a busy schedule. Personally, I continue to struggle with getting the eight hours of sleep I’m supposed to get as a college student, and sometimes eating full meals can get difficult when I’m prioritizing my work. Using Google Calendar to completely map out my daily life has been a lifesaver since a notification forces me to stop and move on to the next task at hand, whether it be related to work or self-care. Essentially, the calendar acts as a kind of timer in my life. If I’m not done with a particular assignment by the time the notification comes up on my laptop, I know I should table it and continue on to the next one so I don’t burn myself out during long study sessions. Although it may seem obvious, another crucial piece of advice is to attend and participate in classes. Students generally have a more difficult time when they do not actively take part in their education while in the classroom setting, and sleeping in class or skipping class altogether certainly decreases the chances of a student’s ability to meet expectations. According to USA Today, “the average college student skips 240 classes by the time he or she graduates. For students at an in-state, public university this adds up to $7,200 of wasted tuition money over the course of four years.” Committing to higher education is known as a large investment. Disregarding the economic losses that occur from not participating in classes is unwise, so it is in the best interest of students to focus on their academics. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ranks as the #14 party school in the United States for 2018, according to The Princeton Review. A piece of advice that I wish was shared with me early on is that party culture does not permeate every aspect of the college experience. Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) vary greatly, and not all of them are centered around partying late into the evenings. There are other ways to socialize and develop strong friendships. Students are held responsible for the decisions they make, especially in regards to risky behaviors such as drug use and alcohol consumption. If a student decides to participate in party culture at their university, they must acknowledge that there are other events and organizations that they could have taken part of in the case they get caught. Personally, I have not been affected by party culture at my university because I keep myself busy with academic and volunteer organizations. Other students around me certainly take part in party culture, but, generally speaking, they understand and respect the truth that there are other activities available and that it is up to them to make responsible decisions.
The first year of college is a flurry of experiences, both familiar and new. Making reasonable decisions and taking time for oneself are important despite how quick freshman year goes. In my personal experience, the move to campus was near seamless, and I would like to think that developing myself in high school led to success despite the change in environment. College is meant to continue the process of personal growth, and all of its challenges will appropriately broaden the minds of incoming college freshmen. Quickly grasp the importance of higher education and all the opportunities available, and realize that transitioning into college life does not have to be daunting.

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