Everyone’s college experience is different, so it goes without saying that your first year at school will probably be distinct in its events and happenings. However, while your adventures in college will probably differ from that of your best friend, there are some proactive things you can do to make sure the year goes as well as it can.
Whether it’s meeting your professors, managing grades, living in a dorm room, or figuring out what relationships look like now that you’re on your own, there’s a lot to figure out and juggle when you’re a college freshman. Not only are you in charge of doing your own laundry and grocery shopping now, but you’re trying to figure out your future and what kind of career you might be interested in as an adult.
We’re here to help. As with all advice, take these words with a grain of salt and mold them to fit your own experience.
Freshman year hacks to help you get by
1. Be intentional about relationships
Friendships are important, and creating a community for yourself in college is essential to getting by. If you’ve lived in the same town your whole life or attended the same school for the last four years, the idea of making new friends might feel like a bit of a foreign concept. Be deliberate—both in who you choose as friends and in reaching out to actually connect with people. Get involved with extracurriculars too, as you’ll meet a lot of people with similar interests that way.
It’s also important to keep up your relationships from home as well. While friendships certainly ebb and flow with the seasons of life, if there’s a relationship (or several) back home that are important to you, it will take some work to keep those up. Make phone calls, send text messages, and set up times to hang out while you’re on breaks. The same goes for family. It can be easy to drift apart if you’re not purposeful in trying to spend time together.
2. Make a budget and don’t buy everything full price
You might roll your eyes as you read the word “budget”—after all, hasn’t your dad been bugging you to make one and stick to it for a couple years now? Do whatever works best for you, but keep in mind that visual representations of how much money you have available and what priorities you want to keep with your spending can be extremely helpful. If you find yourself overdrafting at the end of every month, consider making a budget using a helpful online tool like www.mint.com or www.budgettracker.com.
Shopping sales and keeping your eyes open for deals can also help you save a dime or two. There’s no need to buy your textbooks full price (unless, of course, you have no other choice). Shop at used book stores, buy from students who are older than you, or see what’s used and available on Amazon. You’ll save hundreds of dollars simply from buying used items vs. purchasing everything new.
3. Find a local church
Whether you’re at a Christian college or not, getting plugged in at a local church will benefit you in a myriad of ways. Not only will it help you get off campus, but you’ll meet people of different ages and backgrounds and get connected with a wider network of people who love Christ and will encourage you in your relationship with him.
This type of community will last you well beyond your college years and after you graduate. Having a solid community like that after you leave the comfort of college will be extremely helpful as you transition into adulthood. It’s also reassuring knowing that you have a community of Christians cheering you on in life and backing you up through both the the hard times and the good times. On the flip side, you’ll have a place and people you can pour into as well.
4. It’s okay to make changes
Sometimes you don’t get along with your roommates. Or you suddenly discover that the major you’ve been pursuing just isn’t for you. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to make changes or figure out ways to cope until you can.
Talk about the dilemmas you run into with a trusted friend or mentor, and keep reevaluating the path you’re on as you work through each week of school. There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for college, so don’t feel bad about making mistakes or trying new things when you need to.
Make sure to have some fun, too. College is a really beautiful time of life—make the most of it!