Many in coming college freshman, myself included, had a completely different image of what college was actually going to be like before they even started. I thought it was going to be this scary, stressful, intimidating place and I would be trapped there until fall break. When in reality, now that I’m home all I want to do is go back. The first semester is always the hardest, but somewhere in your first few months as a college student you will find your place and your people, and you’ll wonder why you ever second guessed the school that you’re now in love with. So, as a college student who got over the first semester hump, here is a guide to college I wish I had when I started my college experience.
1.) “The Freshman 15” isn’t actually a thing.
Now with the exception that you use all of your meal swipes at the Chik Fil A, or you stock up on super unhealthy “comfort foods” to get you through exams, or just lock yourself in your dorm room and aren’t at least somewhat active, the freshman 15 will not effect you. Most universities offer healthy alternatives to your favorite foods. Dining options like salad bars, make-your-own pasta, and even (my personal favorite) the build your own burrito bars are healthy options that are still taste really good. Not to mention that almost every college has a gym or recreation center that is open to all students. This was my savior for maintaining a healthy lifestyle away from my gym at home.
However, it can be difficult to get to your school’s gym between classes, homework and studying for exams, and spending time with your friends, so workout in your dorm! When I couldn’t make it to the gym, I turned to Youtube for my workouts. My favorite fitness Youtubers are Whitney Simmons and Cassey Ho from Blogilates. These pages are awesome and offer a ton of quick and effective workouts, and also some bomb healthy recipes to make in your dorm!
2.) Take ALL of your classes seriously… even the ‘not-so-serious’ ones.
Whether the class is focused towards your major, or a random class that you have to take as a graduation requirement, its important that you try to balance all of them equally. This is one of the main things I wish I kept in mind my first semester of my freshman year. Because even if a class is entirely b.s and you’ll never actually need it in your future, every final grade for each class you take does go towards your GPA which you will need in the future. But if a good gpa isn’t enough of an incentive to show up to all of your classes and try in every one, you are technically paying to take every class that you are enrolled in. So if you do the math, each time you skip a class or you fall asleep in it or you just zone out the entire time, you’re basically throwing about $600 away.
3.) Get enough sleep!
This seems like a no brainer, but in the time that I have been in college my sleep schedule has gotten completely out of whack. It can be very difficult to get enough sleep in college especially when you live with four other people who all have different class schedules and workloads. A great tip is to just talk to your roommates about when you need the lights out or if you need it quieter or if you have to study late at night to only keep one desk lamp on, nine times out of ten they will be understanding because you’ll all have to accommodate each other’s schedules at some point.
One of my saviors for my first semester were Blackout Curtains. Seriously… they are amazing. They will completely block the light out of your dorm and keep the room dark so you won’t be woken up by sunlight in the morning. Now don’t get me wrong, Florida’s 6am sunrises are beautiful, but not when I’ve been up half the night studying and I am completely sleep deprived. Speaking of pulling an ‘all nighter’, they don’t work, so don’t do it. Studies have shown that students who lose sleep in order to study actually retain less than 30% of everything they studied. Your brain needs sleep in order to consolidate the information you’re learning. So put the textbook down and sleep!
4.) Facetime is a blessing.
Especially if you’re in a long distance relationship. Having my boyfriend go to school in upstate New York, while I’m in Tampa, Florida is challenging to say the least. Not to mention missing your family, not being there for the first time for birthdays or family celebrations can make the adjustment to college a lot harder. But thankfully technology is here to save the day! You can FaceTime your parents and your friends and your significant others all the time.
For my sister’s 17th birthday I got to stay on FaceTime with my whole family, and even though it wasn’t exactly the same as being there, it made me feel a thousand times better. Also when you need advice or you’re having a tough day at school and your far away from home being able to see the people you love, even through a screen, is still very helpful.
5.) Only go out when 100% of your work is done.
This is by far one of the most important tips that I can give to anyone. It sounds super cliché but I promise it helps a lot. When its a Friday night and all of your roommates are going out but you know you have to finish a five page essay response, and study for the three exams that are next week, just stay in. Once everything is finished and you can go out, it is so much better than going out and knowing how much work you still need to get done.
Then you end up doing it all the next day when you’re hungover and you know you could have done better. Also its literally one out of hundreds of nights in college that you won’t be able to go out, its nit going to kill you or ruin your social life by any means. Going out is a great way to reward yourself for finishing all of your assignments and an awesome incentive to get your work done earlier!
6.) The first few weeks are always the hardest.
But it does get better. College was by far the biggest change I have ever had to go through in my life. Honestly there were several mental breakdowns and many times in the first month and a half of my first semester when I swore I was transferring and I was going home. Then one day I just felt normal and really happy. I really believe that there is a place for everyone, and I knew that The University of Tampa was my place. I went from being miserable and wanting to leave, to never being able to see myself anywhere else.
Its all just an adjustment. Adjusting to sharing a room and a bathroom with people who you really don’t know that well. To having to get yourself your own food, to having to make your own life schedule and be pretty much completely independent. Especially to being away from your family. But it does get better, and that is the one thing that I wish I knew the most going into my first semester of college. This is why this guide to college is crucial.
Let us know what you think about this guide to college in the comments below!
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