Freshman year is exciting for many students. There’s the thrill of leaving home and being independent for the first time. You get to meet lots of new people and form what you hope will be deep and lasting friendships. There are new clubs and activities to look forward to, and of course, social engagements and parties.
The first year of college can also be overwhelming, and that’s completely normal. There are new schedules to adjust to. Living with other people can be challenging and take some getting used to. Being responsible for yourself and your time is a lot of responsibility, especially if you’ve had your parents making sure you kept yourself on track all throughout high school. In addition to that, stress, bad eating habits and lack of sleep can all contribute to homesickness, poor choices, and depression. It’s a lot to deal with at such a young age.
Before I give you some advice from the trenches, keep in mind that freshman year is a transition year. That doesn’t mean that you should blow off your classes and party like it’s 1999 (did I just age myself?), but cut yourself a little slack. Expect that your grades might not be as awesome as they were during high school, especially during first semester. Expect that you’re going to fall off the wagon when it comes to eating, sleeping, and keeping to that meticulously detailed schedule you created for yourself. Expect to fight with your roommate(s), spend a few nights crying into your pillow, and yes, even miss your parents. It’s all part of the adjustment period.
Having said all that, I asked my children, a college senior and a college sophomore, what advice they would offer to incoming freshmen, and here’s what they said:
- Get regular sleep: it’s hard to repeat this enough. You need regular sleep but the pressure is towards not getting enough sleep.
- Don’t eat at night. It will mess up your body’s rhythm.
- Don’t drink soda. You don’t need it.
- Make friends in your dorm. They’re available more often than not and can be great for quick games and watching Pokemon.
- Find where people in your major hang out and study or socialize. Get to know upperclassman quickly. They’ll have good good major and campus specific advice.
- If you drink (and we don’t condone underage drinking here at JPB), do it with food in your belly and plenty of water. You don’t have enough time to waste being sick.
- Put everything in buckets. It will make it easier to pack and move at the end of the year.
- Don’t be afraid to move things around and learn what you do and do not like about your room.
- Go through your stuff after first semester and purge the things you didn’t use. Make a big trip to Goodwill and donate it all.
So there you have it. As a parent, one of the hardest things to do is to let your children fail, when you know that there are ways you can help keep them from falling on their face. However, part of growing up is learning that your choices have consequences, and college is a time of making choices, both good and bad. Spend your time learning, make new friends, discover who you are and where you want to go, and try to make good choices along the way. But above all, have fun.
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