How to Be an Awesome College Freshman

By Flora Richards Gustafson on September 13, 2013
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College freshmen are stereotypically known for going to class in their pajamas, feeding caffeine addictions and gaining 15 pounds. However, this is not the college life you are destined to as a freshman.

The awesome thing about college is that you get to start your young adult and academic life with a clean slate, gain more independence than you have ever had in your life and get to make important decisions on your own. What many freshmen do not realize, though, is that how they spend their first year has a major impact on the rest of their college career.

When in college, there is a way you can balance going to class, getting good grades, having fun and still keeping your studies a priority.

Been there, done that, was awesome.

Part of succeeding as a freshman is trial and error, everyone struggles to find their groove. “Something I wish I had known my freshman year is that there is no pecking order in college,” said Annette Allen, a recent graduate of Rocky Mountain College in Idaho. “No one really cares if you are a jock or a nerd; people celebrate you for being you and for surviving high school. Age differences no longer matter. You will be in classes talking as equals with people from 18 to 60. College is a melting pot and there is no social rank.”

Linfield College student Jacqueline Rojas is a master of multitasking and loves her family, but wishes she had been more involved in campus events her freshman year. “Go home often if your family lives close to your college,” she said, “but also, spend time on campus and get to know your college community and the people in your hall because you are going to be there for four years. You have to stay as organized as possible: I have five classes, three jobs, volunteering, homework, family and friends! There are so many things that I have going on, and organization is key.”

How you can be an awesome freshman

Erin A. Gray, director of Student Life at the Illinois Institute of Technology, offers freshmen the following advice on how they can succeed during their first year:

  •  Go to orientations. You’ll have the chance to meet other new students, so when you start school in the fall, you’ll already recognize some faces!
  •  Show up to class. Sleeping through an 8 a.m. class may be very tempting, but your attendance in class is more than just your physical presence. You’ll learn important information from your professors about things that aren’t in the textbooks, like what to expect on tests and changes in syllabus information.
  • Take advantage of student resources. Colleges are full of people who want to help you succeed! Your new university has countless resources devoted to your overall well-being. If you need help with academics, reach out to the library, academic success center or your major’s department. If you’re feeling under the weather, take a trip to student health or counseling. If you’re bored, check out student activities or the programs office. There is always someone willing to listen and make sure you are enjoying your college experience.
  • Be balanced. It’s very important as you step onto campus that you are putting your best self forward every day. Your first year of college will be full of emotions: homesickness, newfound independence, stress and excitement. Find a way to make sure that you are healthy from physical, mental and spiritual standpoints. You will only be able to achieve to your best ability when you are feeling well and balanced from both an academic and personal perspective.

You only get to be a freshman in college once. It is up to you to make the most of this experience because the events that happen during this first year can shape your life as a young adult. Take advantage of this time to make new friends, find a mentor and learn skills for life.

About the Author

Flora Richards Gustafson

Flora Richards Gustafson

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