Student to Student - Advice to My Freshman Self

Four years of college flies by awfully fast, and looking back we all have things we would have done differently. Here recent college graduates speak to their younger freshmen selves, conversations our college bound kids would be wise to listen to.

Don’t skip class. Trust your gut. Find friends who you can grow with and who will push you.
— Ben
Immerse yourself in your community: join clubs and be present. It’s so easy to pay attention to social media and other people’s experiences at their schools, instead, be involved and engaged on your campus and with your friends and not worry about what’s going on elsewhere.
— Brooke
Spend time really looking at the courses your school offers. There are so many rad classes that none of your friends are taking because everyone always signs up for the same ones, often recommended by their older brothers, sisters or friends. Branch out and take a “weird” class. The best class I ever took was ‘Love, Lust, and Relationships’ – a fascinating class that has TONS of applicability in real life.
— Simon
If your school has a core curriculum, try to fulfill as many requirements as you can early on. I had a lot of friends who couldn’t study abroad or ruined their upperclassmen GPAs because they pushed off their required classes until late junior or senior year. I was more engaged, academically, during my last two years, and thankfully I was able to take the classes I wanted.
— Sophie
Understand your needs and adjust your environment to make it work for you. I am from a small town where everyone knows everyone, yet ended up at a massive university in New York City. The beginning of college was filled with anxiety because, as insane as it sounds, it stressed me out to walk the 20 minutes back from my dorm to school every day without ever running into a familiar face. So, I made a goal to put myself out there and meet more people so that this would no longer happen. Maybe your problem doesn’t stem from my unique anti “social anxiety, “ but we all need to make our surroundings work for our needs.
— Taylor
Get your work done when it’s assigned, not when it’s due; it’ll free up your weekends and weeknights. It’s a good feeling to be able to hang with your friends without watching the clock to rush to get back to your work.
— Charlie
Familiarize yourself with the campus and your new neighborhood as soon as possible. It’s frustrating to feel like you’re the only one who has no idea where anything is AND nothing screams freshman more than walking around in large packs with everyone looking at their google maps trying to find the house party. Look up where you’re going beforehand and know the route, try to move in smaller numbers and meet up AT the party, not on the way to it.
— Roy
If you’re are having a tough adjustment academically here’s my advice: participate in class as much as you can, attend office hours once a week, and do the required reading (sounds obvious, but it wasn’t to me at first).
— Liv
Trust that it’s normal not to meet all of the people who will become your best friends in the first (or even second) semester of college. I remember feeling insecure and anxious in the fall of my freshman year because I felt that I hadn’t made “enough” close friends yet or found my “group.” An older friend told me that the idea of having a friend “group” was, to her, a part of high school that she wanted to leave behind. She loved having friends in different grades and in different areas of the school that all seemed to get along with each other but weren’t necessarily a group.
— Charlotte
If you are taking out student loans, make sure you study something that will eventually lead towards a job, as you’ll have to start paying upon graduating. College is a huge party, yet it also is a very important on-ramp to the rest of your life. Get a jump on a summer internship; the application season begins early, check to see what resources your school has in helping you find the best-fit for your major.
— Christian
Take a breath when you feel overwhelmed, behind, inexperienced, lost, etc. It’s likely that everyone around you feels the same way!! Push yourself to get out there and experience new things because that’s the best way to get to know yourself better. Try and seize every opportunity that comes your way. College is a great time to figure out what you like (and sometimes more importantly what you don’t like), what kind of people you want to surround yourself with, and what activities bring you joy and inspire you. Soak it all up and have fun. And go to class!!!! You’ll regret it if you don’t.
— Tanner
Sign up for classes and activities you’re not sure you’ll like to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You never know what you might discover!
— Lauren
The first semester of college IS going to be awkward and hard, both socially and academically. Don’t worry if you don’t find that group of best friends the first week - there is a weird pressure to do so, but almost no one does, and that’s okay, your friends will come. Don’t worry if at first, you’re struggling in class - the change from high school to college is tough and takes getting used before you find the right groove. And remember, every freshman is in the same boat and feeling the same anxious feelings—take comfort in that; you’re not alone.
— Olivia
Get involved with one or two organizations that do something you think is interesting (whether a sport, charity, or business club, etc.). It’s a great way to meet friends and learn a few things outside of the classroom.
— Harry
Taking challenging classes is important during your college career— just don’t take four of them your first semester. You’ll end up spending a lot of your nights in the library and wondering why all the freshmen are hanging out without you.
— Marjorie
I became best friends with my best friends on week two of freshman year. You’re not supposed to find them so immediately, the ones who are right for you. But we did. It was incredibly lucky, and I’m thankful for that every day. That being said, the second semester of my senior year, I started to branch out from this group of girls. In the last few months of school, I met so many incredible people, had so many new and fulfilling experiences and was also so sad because these are peers that I could’ve known for far longer. I was so charmed having a close knit group of friends (something I had never had before) that I stopped seeking new people and experiences. My advice to my freshman self would be never to stop exploring, even after you hit the jackpot. Friendship and experience are not finite — there is always more to be had, even if you feel like you’ve found it all.
— Anne
Be open to opportunities that present themselves, and don’t sweat the small stuff, everything happens for a reason. Be open to meeting new people. Take classes, obtain internships and join clubs in your field of interest that you can talk about when applying for jobs after college.
— Tessa
Eat healthy, get enough sleep, and work out!
— Alison
Form relationships with your professors. Most freshman classes are in large lecture halls; it’s easy to feel lost and unmotivated. A mentor makes all the difference.
— Jake