My Five Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen

There are umpteenth lists out there about how to live your life, how to conduct relationships, how to survive college etc., etc. They’re typically entertaining and always make for an easy read, so I thought that I would create one of my own about five things that I wish I had known as a freshman.

1. Plan your schedule. This is difficult because you don’t know your major, and you certainly don’t need to as a freshman, but if there are some classes you would like to take, make note of them and take them. Also, taking random classes that you’re interested in early on can lead to a possible major or a minor. I took classes that were open–that was my strict criteria. And I wish I had been a bit more knowledgeable and discovered a topic that I could’ve pursued a minor in. So, really explore what your college or university has to offer. Talk to older students or friends to see what they enjoyed.

2. Record your time in college somehow. I thought journals were for preteens who liked to shop at Limited Too. I never considered keeping one when I was an underclassman, but now I wish I had. I took plenty of photos on my handy dandy digital camera, so I have those memories. But even with those, it’s hard to remember specific moments. I thought that there was no way I would forget anything important that happened in college, but now all of the years blend together in my memory, and it makes me sad that I don’t have some sort of written record of it. I’m not saying write a long, elaborate journal entry each night, but just keep a Word document or even a blog that chronicles your college life because you’ll want to be able to remember it.

3. Find a club/activity/organization that you want to be a part of for four years. There are thousands of extracurriculars available in college, so take advantage of them. These aren’t the kind of extracurriculars that you’re used to in high school; they’re not the ones that you have to be a part of to look good on paper. If you love something, there’s almost definitely a club or activity on campus that will relate to it.

4. Go to office hours so you get to know your professor. This is a cliche piece of advice, but it’s true. Professors have great advice and come senior year, most prospective employers will ask for a reference. If you know a professor well, they’ll be happy to help you out. I was intimidated by talking to professors my freshman year wish that I hadn’t been.

5. Get some friends together and spend a summer somewhere. This takes planning, which I learned quickly. My friends and I would always talk about spending the summer in Nantucket or Charleston, but never planned well enough. If you have a place you want to go for the summer, start planning early because if you put it off, it likely will fall through.

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