Freshman year is basically a year of settling in and making decisions on what you want to study, your friends, maybe your future career. But there are somethings you should get a head start on to make life easier and these are some things I’ve learned along the way.
Choose a reasonable major
Of course, you should study something you enjoy but also be realistic. A college degree is a big investment: financially, time-wise, energy wise. So if you’r not going to get a return on it, it’s not really a choice you should be making. For example, if you love anime and Japanese culture, but you don’t plan on doing anything with a degree in Japanese, why not just make it your minor or learn it outside of college?
Take more credits
I feel like a lot of other articles advise freshman to take less credits so they don’t get overwhelmed but as a freshman, you’ll be taking classes for liberal studies requirements and 100 level courses for your major so I think this is a good time to aim for 15-18 credits (depending on what classes you’re taking) so that you can get ahead.
Do your best in every class
Don’t be the student that never shows up and fails every class because they ‘can always retake it’. First of all, there’s a limited amount of classes you can retake (usually about 4 classes), and that adds on an extra semester that is unnecessary. Just pay attention in class, study more, contact your professor when the material is difficult (they like to know you’re putting in effort), and you’ll be fine
Take classes you enjoy
You get to pick what classes you want to take for your liberal reqs so take this opportunity to take something you want to know more about instead of looking for ‘easy’ classes. Try pottery or take a foreign language class (you could even do your minor in it). The point is, you’ll do a lot better in a class you actually like and you’ll get more out of it.
Figure out a timeline
This is the year to explore all your options but if you somewhat know what you want to do, meet with your academic advisor and go over your goals with them. They have been in charge of students schedules for a long time so they know the ins and outs of your major. They’ll be the best people to give you advice on if you want to add a second major or minor, if you want to graduate early, if you plan on going to grad school (it’s never too early to plan for it!), If you plan on doing internships (build that resume!)…pretty much anything you plan on doing, you should talk to them about it and make a timeline for yourself to follow (class schedules, internships, on-campus involvement, graduation date, grad school application dates, finishing pre-reqs)
Your home away from home will not be complete without good friends around. Make an effort to meet new people outside your normal (roommates, orientation buddies..) circle. Go join clubs/organizations, attend different events, talk to people in your class.
Get involved on campus
This is a great way of building friendships while building your resume. Get involved with your major’s club/organizations, joining a sorority/fraternity, and other ones that you might just be interested in and stay active!
Don’t party (too hard)
You can always tell who the freshman is at college parties. They’re usually trying a little too hard and not prioritizing themselves. If you have an 8 AM class or an exam the next, you have no business dancing at a frat party at 2 AM. It’s okay to go out but make good choices while you’re out
Study abroad if possible
College gives you a great opportunity to travel while earning credits towards your degree. This is probably best done your freshman/sophomore year when you still have a lot of liberal courses left to do. Talk to a study abroad advisor, pick a location, get your classes approved, apply for scholarships and travel!
Use all your University’s resources
There are plenty of resources at every college that you should take advantage of. This can include the on-campus gym, the student health clinic (hello, flu shots), career development center, the counseling center etc. My favorite resource on my campus has to be the career development center. They look over your resume and make sure everything looks good, if you don’t have much going on, they can tell you how to build your resume, your can do mock interviews, get a major/career consultation and a lot of other services. You should definitely see what your school has to offer.
Talk to your family as much as you can
Calling/texting/visiting your family often will help with being homesick. Just give them a call whenever you can or shoot them a goodnight text. They miss you too so be thoughtful and keep in contact and let them know how things are going.
If you guys have anything to add or anything you can relate to, leave a comment below!