Hi everyone! It’s hard to believe that my freshman year is officially over! I turned in my last engineering assignment and now I am officially a sophomore! I've learned a lot about myself and about college during my first year at ISU, and I want to take some time to share some of my learning experiences with you all. Hopefully some of these lessons will help you better approach your future time at college!
Remember, everyone's college experience will be different. These are lessons that I found relevant to my personal college experience. However, some of these tips and lessons could very well apply to your freshman year at college!
keep your personal space organized
Having a clean desk and bedroom makes all the difference. Trust me. During weeks where I let my dorm room get messy (meaning unmade bed, books everywhere, dishes piling up) just because I was too tired really hindered my efficiency studying and doing homework in the long run. I was unhappy working in my messy room and would easily find distractions. Although you may not want to, take the extra 15-20 minutes each day or so to take time to tidy up your working and living space. A clean environment helps boost happiness and overall work efficiency.
college professors are very different from high school teachers
Don't get me wrong here, some college professors really want students to succeed and will put forth an extra mile to help students pass! However, most of your professors will not be as easy going as your high school teachers. Many won't accept late work, extra credit isn't as common as some people make it seem, and they really won't accept your excuses that you tried to use in grade school. Professors make the syllabus and give that to their students that outlines all of their class policies and expectations. This includes late work policies and homework policies. Therefore, you really need to be more diligent in turning work in on time and following the procedures your professors outline on day one. Most don't like to repeat themselves, so you don't want to gain a reputation not using your resources before asking for help or exceptions.
Don‘t Worry, You Will Make Friends
I was an out of state student, so I know what it feels like to know absolutely NO ONE on campus. I'll admit, it can be daunting. However, during my very first day, at the time I didn't know it, but I met two of my now very close friends in a chemistry lecture! Don't be afraid to say hi to the person sitting next to you in lecture. You never know who could potentially become a life long friend. Many other students will be nervous about making friends on the first day also, so don't worry, you aren't alone! We're all struggling college students trying to figure life out!
no one will make fun of you for being a freshman, so go and do all the freshman activities
Imma say this loud and clear. Absolutely no one cares that you are a freshman, except your advisor and other freshman. Besides that other upperclassman will treat you like another student on campus. That being said, don't be afraid to go and experience all of the "freshman week" activities. No one will make fun of you for going, and you only have the chance to go once! These activities can really help you adjust to being on your own at college and is also a great chance to meet new friends. Upperclassmen won't make fun of you for going. If anything, they would probably tell you how they wish they actually went to them themselves!
Studying habits from high school probably won’t work
I'll be perfectly honest, I really didn't study in high school. I found the course work easy and maintaining my grades came super easy to me. However, I got a rude awakening my first exam week in college when I realized the material wasn't easy and I had no idea of how to efficiently study! Either during your senior year of high school (if you are still in it) or during your first few weeks of college, really start to learn how you like to study. Is it with flashcards, rewriting notes, or any other method? Really take time before your first college exams to learn different studying techniques that way you aren't caught off guard and in a panic when it comes time for you to really start studying (like for mid-terms or exams)!
tests and quizzes come faster than you think
Going directly off of the last piece of advice, these tests and quizzes I'm telling you to study for will come MUCH FASTER than you think. The school year will fly by. Use a planner, google calendar, or whatever organization method best suits you and constantly reference and update it. You'll spare yourself from a "pop exam" that you were technically informed of weeks ago, but you forgot to write down the date.
You don’t have to get along with your roommates all the time
There were times during the last school year I felt like throwing myself out a window because of how angry or annoyed I got with my roommates. Just like family, you are living in a small space with very different personalities. At some point, you will have a disagreement or major argument, and that's okay! It's okay to agree to disagree on some things and move on. Or some things may need a more serious talk to reach a compromise. Whatever the situation may be, do not feel obligated to have to like your roommate 24/7. If y'all are meant to be friends and continue being roommates, you will learn to compromise, apologize, self-improve, and move on. If you find that you are constantly angry or arguing, then you know that next year you simply need to find a new roommate!
It’s okay to feel stressed or confused at times
At least everyone in my friend group, including myself, had a nice cry (or several) during the school year due to stress of classes, feeling homesick, or just not knowing if we could succeed in our majors. It's okay to cry and feel your emotions! Just remind yourself that you are a hard worker and are at college for a reason! You will feel stress, but that's part of experiencing college. When you experience this stress, each time you'll get better at learning how to handle it. Everyone will go through some type of rough time while at college, so you aren't alone if you find yourself struggling. Don't be afraid to use your student health center for therapy or counseling if you think you need it. They are there to help!
it’s okay to change your minor or major
I knew for sure I wanted to go into mechanical engineering with a business or engineering sales minor. However, I ended up changing my minor to a leadership studies minor within the first semester. Especially during your first two years, it's normal to change your minor or major because you realize that maybe what you initially were into just isn't for you anymore! Many colleges make it easy to change your major/minor early on, so don't stress too much if you find yourself wanting to change!
it’s okay to call home and miss family
I thought I would barely call home because I was SO READY to move out (sorry fam, lol). However, I ended up calling either my dad or sister (or both) a few times during the week just to tell them about fun things going on, or to rant about school work. Your family will miss you, and at some point, you will miss your family. You won't be viewed as a baby or weak for calling home every now and then.
I hope some of these lessons that I learned will help you during/prior to your first year at college! Hopefully by the end of your freshman year, you'll be able to make a list of things you learned along the way, just like me! Let me know any tips you think I should have added, and share with others tips you think are helpful!