Monday, June 24, 2013

What I Have Learned From My First Year In College

Recently, I completed my first year away from home, in college and all I can say is, "Yay! I survived!" A statement like that may lead you to believe that my first year wasn't the best, but it actually was an amazing experience for me. Throughout my entire first year experience, I noticed many things that I thought would have been helpful to know at the beginning of my freshman year.


It's Not Like High School

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Unless you go to a relatively small school where everyone knows everyone, college is nothing like high school. Gone are the days of cliques, rumors that spread like wildfires, and teachers that actually care whether or not you show up to class.
While there may be a few close knit groups (athletes, greeks, etc) they aren't exclusive enough to be called cliques. Everyone pretty much associates with everyone. College is about being yourself and finding who you are. It is not trying to fit in with a certain crowd or hold up a certain image.
And don't worry about making friends or eating alone in the dining hall, no one is going to say, "You can't sit with us!"





The First Month Is Friendly Month


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My biggest concern about going to college was making friends. From the first day I found out that it would not be a problem AT ALL. From the first day you arrive on campus or move into the dorms, people are introducing themselves to you at any chance they get. You can be waiting in line in the bookstore, eating your lunch, or sitting in class and at least one person is going to introduce themselves.

Conversations during the first month usually consists of the same few questions:

  • Name
  • Year
  • Major
  • Where you're from
  • What dorm you are in
EVERYONE will be asking you these questions for at least the first two weeks. Eventually this scripted conversation will die down after the first month, but expect to continue these introductions whenever you start a new class or go to a student organization meeting. 
And don't worry about going to campus events alone. The first week is full of welcome events and many other students there are alone looking for people to meet too. Just be yourself and the friends will come to you, no matter how shy you may be.






Don't Be Afraid To Ask Around for Help

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There's nothing worse than being lost or feeling helpless and confused when you're in new setting. Luckily returning students have no problem helping out the freshmen. If you're lost on your way to class, ask someone walking by. And gather information about the school through random conversation. For example, if you're talking to a returning student and they mention the on campus gym, ask them what times the gym is least crowded.
As you meet people throughout the year, you will start to make the connections you need in order to find out more about the school. As you meet other students in your major, ask them which classes are best to take, which professors to avoid, and other questions that will make your class experience a lot easier.
Also, take advantage of the technology era we are living in. Many schools are now creating Facebook groups, and help websites for their students to connect with each other. These groups and websites can be helpful for getting the help you need. For example, in my school I am apart of groups such as Class of 2016, Campus Tips, Jobs and Internships, and my major: Fashion Merchandising. So far these groups have helped me find my roommate, sell my textbooks, register for classes, and even find events and parties happening around campus. Don't be shy, ask around!






If You Have to Take an Early Class, Make Sure It's a Fun One


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My first semester of college, I had an 8am class everyday (yes, Fridays too) and the only thing keeping me from skipping thats class at least twice a week was the most interesting professor ever. For such an early class, there was hardly ever an absent student. This professor was absolutely insane and none of us wanted to miss the chance to see what he would do next. Which is why I recommend making your first class a fun one. This isn't always an easy thing to do for your first semester unless you know someone, but by the end of the semester you should know enough people to get class recommendations. Find out what professors are interesting, crazy, or do a lot of in class activities. If you're not a morning person, the idea of fun may be the only thing to get you out of bed at six in the morning. And if you can't find any good recommendations, there's always Rate My Professor.

Make a Friend in Every Class


Yes, another Mean Girls picture


For those times when you do have to miss class, there's nothing worse then showing up to the next class completely lost or unprepared. To avoid this all you have to do is speak up! On the first day of class don't be afraid to introduce yourself to the people sitting around you. It will be nice to know someone if you ever need help with the class. While some classes may give have the contact information of each student on online sites such as Blackboard, it's never a bad idea to get to know your classmates more or get their phone number.




Have Fun!

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This is college for Pete's sake! These will be the best days of your life so get out there and make it worth it! Go to a concert with your friends, explore the area and find the best spots to hang out, participate in a crazy campus tradition. After all, studying isn't the only part of college. It's all about the experience. 




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