Freshman 15 : How to Survive Freshman Year

When I started my first year in college there was definitely a common fear among me and my friends- the dreaded Freshman 15. While some may have fallen victim to this terrible curse (me included lol), here's a Freshman 15 that will actually help and that you don't have to be afraid of. 

1.  Make friends 

This can be one of the most terrifying and exciting parts of college. If you're like me, making friends is a little difficult- having social anxiety makes it hard to talk to others. But believe me when I say it's such a rewarding experience. It makes college so so so much better. So make friends with your suite or hallmates, your RA, your TA. Be friendly with everyone you meet because those connections are important and college definitely isn't something you want to do alone. 

2. Form a relationship with your roommate

For me, the most awkward thing about college life was not being comfortable with my roommate. I went in with this fairytale idea that we would be best friends and do everything together and end up being a bridesmaid in each others wedding 10 years from now. I was wrong. And it sucked. We would make small talk, but it was nothing special. I would see other roommates act like sisters and be so grateful for this new person in their life and my roommate and I just didn't have that. We just didn't click. 
My biggest regret of freshman year is not having a better relationship with her. I really believe my year would have been so much better if we had been closer. 

3. Make your dorm room your home

Caring about decorating your dorm room may seem superficial to some, but it can have an huge impact on you. It's the difference between feeling like you live in a prison shoebox and in a cozy room. And it's easier and cheaper than people may think. Instead of looking at a bare white wall, you could be looking at a beautiful tapestry that makes you feel serene and happy; hang pictures of friends and family to make you feel more at home; bring stuffed animals from home that make you feel better when you're sad. Make your room your home away from home. 

4. Set yourself up for success early on

With all of the freedom that college gives you, it can be easy to fall behind quickly. There are no parents to tell you to study and do your homework, no one to tell you when you can hang out with friends, no one to keep you on track but yourself. Make sure you're ready to take responsibility for yourself and your actions and your academics. Try to keep good habits like going to bed at a reasonable time and doing homework before going out from the beginning and make an effort to stick to those habits. Make rules for yourself and reward yourself when you follow them. Don't get caught up in the college hype too early or you'll never get yourself out of it.

5. Read your syllabus

I repeat- read your syllabus! All the way through. Multiple times. If your professor sends you the syllabus before the first day of class come ready with questions if you have them. Reading the syllabus  can let you know if this is a class that you're ready for. It explicitly sets up class expectations and outlines the schedule for the year. I can't tell you how many times I've asked a professor a question and they've just told me to look at the syllabus. So I cannot stress enough- READ YOUR SYLLABUS!

6. Use your syllabus

Not only do you need to read your syllabus, but you need to use it. When I was in high school teachers gave out the syllabus and it was pretty much just a useless piece of paper that you didn't use for the rest of the year. In college your syllabus is also your calendar, your work schedule your sleep schedule. It has all of your assignments for the year, due dates, lecture dates, exams dates. You're given all of the information upfront and it's up to you to apply it to your schedule. Use it to your advantage. Print your syllabus out so that you have a hard copy. Highlight important due dates in your personal calendar. Get ahead on readings and assignments if you can. Make the syllabus work for you. 

7. Talk to your professors

Remember when I said make friends? These types of friends are totally worth it. Having connections with professors will make life so much easier down the road. They can write recommendations, and they're more inclined to help you in class if they see more than  you falling asleep in class every Tuesday and Thursday.  Go to office hours, email them, stay after class. Get on their good side and watch how much it benefits you.

8. Get involved

In college there is always something to do and if you go to a big school like I do, there's always something to do and then some. Whether it be student government, greek life, clubs, or community service, find something you love and run with it. Don't waste four years just going from your dorm to class and back to your dorm. Make an impact, leave a mark, even a small mark is still a mark.

9. Balance your load

In high school I had a job, I was in clubs, I did community service, and I was really active at my church all while maintaining a 3.5 GPA. That was still nothing compared to being in college. It took me a while to get a good schedule down where I could spend enough time studying and still be involved in all of my organizations. Know how much you can take; if holding a job and keeping up your grades is too hard, cut your hours or take a break from working. While getting involved is really important and a huge part of the college experience, don't take on more than you can chew. Choose 2-3 things that you are really passionate about and give them your all. Having too much on your plate is an easy way to fall behind and this list is all about getting ahead and staying afloat.

10. Get help as soon as you need it

College is hard. Like really hard. There were definitely points in the year where I thought about dropping out. But I made school so much harder on myself than it needed to be. There are so many resources to help that I just ignored and I mostly found my self praying for a miracle at the end of each semester. But it truly does not have to be that hard. Ask for help, I promise there's someone that lives near you that can help, or a tutoring center you can visit that can do wonders for your grades. So don't be like me. Don't wait until the last minute or until it's too late. It will help you so much more in the long run, especially when finals roll around. 

11. Keep up with your health

Don't get me wrong, I love college, but it can be so taxing on you mentally, physically, and emotionally. You can easily run yourself ragged without even noticing or meaning to until it's too late. And it is so easy to prevent yourself from getting to the point of no return. If you feel yourself slipping into a negative mindset more often than not, talk to someone. Most colleges offer counseling services that are free or reduced for students. Make sure you're eating right and exercising. I know during my first few months I didn't even feel like going to the gym because what was the point? I already walk 10 minutes to get to my classes everyday so why exercise? But even going to gym or running once a week is better than nothing. And always always always wash your hands. The cold and flu spread around college campuses like wild fire. I had the flu for two weeks in February and I can honestly say I would not wish that on my worst enemy. 

12. Take your academics seriously

The one thing that you have to remember is that you are in college first and foremost to get your degree. Everything else may be important and fun, but it is secondary. And everyone that tells you that freshman year is your easiest academically, is right. You're mostly taking general education classes and classes that really don't matter for your major. If you play your cards right these classes can be easy GPA boosters. Study hard and try your best to do well in your classes because it can only help. Good grades = scholarships = no student loans, and I'm pretty sure that's something everyone wants (especially your parents, they will thank you).

13. Create a budget

The broke college kid joke is real y'all. Like really real. I went from having a job since I was 16 to not having a job and spending like I still had one. And let me tell you it was not pretty. My bank account has never been so empty. There were probably tumbleweeds blowing around in there. It was really hard for me to get the hang of not spending money because there was none coming in. If I had had a budget at the very beginning I wouldn't be nearly as broke as I was at the end of the year. Make sure your financial priorities are school related or essential to your living situation. Just like academics everything else is secondary. Budgeting is about prioritizing and college is really good at teaching you about it. It's your choice to either get ahead of the game or fall back.

14. Keep in touch with parents, friends, and family

Like I said earlier, college can weigh really heavily on you. But you have to remember that you're not in this alone. New college friends are important, but so are your friends from home. Call your parents and family and friends when you're not feeling 100%. You'd be surprised at how much it helps you feel better. You have an entire support system you just have to know how to use it. 

15. Have fun!!

Although college can be stressful, it is also one of the most amazing experiences. So stress when you need to, but don't forget to have fun and make the most of the time that you have. Living in walking distance of all of your friends is a luxury that won't be around forever. And you're really going to miss it when summer break comes around. 

Did these help you out? Do you have any more tips for incoming freshman? Let me know in the comments below!

1 comment :

  1. Could not agree with you more the syllabus! I had no idea what a syllabus was when I started college. Once someone showed me how to use one I was like, 'Oh my gosh! This makes things so much easier!'