Your freshman year is super exciting, but it can also be challenging to adjust. I want to share tips I learned during my freshman year and share them to help make your first year easier. Keep reading for 12 things I wish I knew before my freshman year at UW-L.
1. It’s overwhelming and it can be pretty stressful at times.
For most of us, it’s the first time that you’re on your own and have to be responsible for yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t find yourself those first few weeks; it took me almost a full semester to adjust. Eventually, the only overwhelming part of college life will be having to schedule your own doctor and dentist appointments.
2. The classes are all different from high school.
You can start as late as you please, but then you’re usually in class until early/late evening. Morning classes are rough, but then you’re done for the day by early afternoon, which is prime nap time.
3. Getting enough sleep at night is so important.
Do whatever you can to get a good night’s rest. It’s going to make a difference in your academic and personal life. Most of the classes I skipped were because I was sleeping through them after not getting enough sleep the night before. How are you going to meet new people and explore what your campus and new town have to offer if you’re sleeping the day away and doing homework at night? It’s a vicious cycle that rarely changes.
4. The professors aren’t as bad as you think they are.
Most professors, especially those at UW-L, are very understanding and they’re not like the movies and TV shows depict them to be. We have some of the nicest professors I’ve ever encountered and they aren’t mean or unfair in any way. They’re just regular people with regular lives, and they want the same things you do: to leave class early, to get along, and to get your assignments graded quickly.
5. There aren’t nearly as many papers due as you’re led to believe.
In one semester, I only had three papers due with two of them being a maximum of three pages each. The third one was only longer, at six-pages, because it was our class’s equivalent of a final.
6. It’s okay to not get along with your roommate(s).
I had a horrendous experience with my freshman year roommate, and I thought it was all my fault. I thought you were supposed to be best friends with them so I tried changing who I was, what I did, and how I did things. It wasn’t until I talked to my RA that I realized, you don’t have to get along with your roommate(s) and it’s totally normal to fight. If that’s the case, don’t change who you are, change who you live with.
7. It’s also okay if your roommate(s) start to replace your high school/hometown best friend.
With how often you guys are together, it’s bound to happen. Don’t feel guilty, because your best friend has probably found someone else on their campus that they’re getting close to. It doesn’t mean you’re friendship will end, you’ll just have more friends.
8. The finals are not as nightmare-inducing as you would think.
Many professors don’t want to go through the hassle of grading 100+ final exams. More often than not, you won’t have many finals in your General Education courses because there are just too many students to give a final to.
9. This new found freedom is nice, but use it wisely.
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, skip class. You might think you can swing it, but trust me you can’t. You could have a class that puts all the notes online, all the tests are online, and the professor emails you about anything important, but it’s still not a good idea to skip for multiple reasons. The professor could add something important to the notes that will be on the test and you won’t know what it is. There could be a pop-quiz because those are still a thing. Finally, you’ll get to know people in your classes who could be valuable study partners, your new best friend, or your potential soulmate.
10. That being said, don’t feel pressured to find the love of your life.
I remember being told in high school to just worry about my studies because college is where you’re going to find the love of your life. That may be true, but I also know some couples that got together in high school and are still happily together. Freshman year should be spent focusing on your studies and finding yourself. If you happen to stumble upon one of the 10,000 undergraduate students at UW-L that you click with, that’s great! If not, that’s okay too.
11. Make sure to find a good balance between schoolwork and fun.
It’s totally okay to have fun and let loose once and a while. UW-L has so many fun things to do like hiking the Bluff, bike riding on the trails, walking downtown, etc. However, please don’t make it a daily thing because I’ve seen what it can do; you stop studying, your grades start slipping, you start stressing about your grades, you start letting loose more in order to forget, and it starts a vicious cycle. UW-La Crosse didn’t get to be one the smartest schools in the University of Wisconsin system for no reason.
12. If you get the opportunity to live on a floor or in a hall like Eagle, with international students, take it!
You’re going to learn so many things about other cultures. They also might be some of the most amazing people you meet. My best friend is from Brazil and I have some really good friends from Spain, Senegal, and many other places.