As well as a ton of literary theory and how to correctly reference in an essay, I learned some important lessons in my freshman year of college…
1. Sometimes grades make no sense. I got the lowest grades in the classes I worked hardest for, and the one politics class that had NOTHING to do with my degree, that I NEVER turned up to, I got my best grade. Freshman year showed me that a lot of the time, grades really aren’t reflective of your work or ability. Some professors are harsh markers. Some are generous. Don’t assume that a bad grade means you’re dumb or not trying hard enough.
2. You can still make friends after the first week. In British universities, there’s a lot of pressure to form a friendship group in Freshers Week, or the first week of the semester. A lot of the time, those friendships don’t work out, but that doesn’t mean you’ll end up alone. Take your time and make genuine, valuable friendships rather than latching on to the first people you meet.
3. Go to your professor’s office hours. For the majority of students, this lesson never sinks in. It still hasn’t for me. Office hours are one of the best resources available. You get to make a connection with your lecturer and get advice on exactly what they’re looking for in your essays/exam responses. Even the few times I went to office hours had a huge impact on my grades.
4. Take every opportunity you can. Signing up for a semester abroad was a really daunting decision, but it turned out to be one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Don’t be scared or intimidated. Freshman year should be all about trying new things, whether it’s signing up to a club or just being extra social.
5. Very few people know what they’re doing. I always had this idea that everyone in college already had their entire career mapped out. That wasn’t the case. You can take this one of two ways: 1. Relax, because everyone else is confused too, or 2. Be the exception. Very few people do internships their first year of college. If, post-graduation, you’re the one candidate who has, you might just land that job.
6. I learned that now is the time to get healthy. I actually managed to escape the freshman 15, but all that pizza and red bull caught up with me eventually. My second year of university is when my metabolism suddenly slowed wayyy down. I wish I had started working out and eating healthily in freshman year, just so it would be a little easier now.
7. I should have gotten a part-time job. I didn’t get a part-time job until my second year of university, and I really regret that. Freshman year was so much easier! I had so much time! I could have saved so much money! Not having a job then means I’m incredibly stressed out – and lacking funds – now. Bad idea.
8. It’s okay to fall in love. Again, this comes down to social pressure and pre-conceived notions of what college SHOULD be like. I always had this idea that university was all about being free and single, so the concept of getting a boyfriend seemed terrible. My freshman year taught me that there’s nothing wrong with being coupled up – you can still go out, have fun, and have the classic college experience.
9. Do the work. One thing I learned in freshman year is that yes, you can absolutely get away with doing about 10% of the assigned work. But you won’t do as well, and you won’t learn as much. The second I actually decided to do all the reading for my classes, I enjoyed them so much more.
10. Have fun, go out, be stupid. As important as it is to study and work and all of that serious stuff, it’s also crucial that you actually act like a crazy college kid in your Freshman year. Trust me, it’s better to do it now rather than two years down the line when you’re stressing out over finals and dissertations. Give yourself permission to sometimes make stupid decisions – that’s how you make the best memories.
11. Don’t buy the super cheap vodka or the weird tasting wine. It’s highly likely you will vomit on yourself.
What did you learn in your freshman year of college? Leave a comment below!
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