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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Main image courtesy of Pitzer College.

If you’ve just graduated from high school, congratulations! Take some time to enjoy what an accomplishment that is. The summer after you graduate should be filled with all kinds of fun activities, from hanging out with your friends, to taking vacations with your family, chances are you have a packed summer! When autumn rolls around, however, it’s time to start thinking about your freshman year in college.

If you’re planning to attend college, you’re probably feeling a mix of emotions ranging from nervousness to excitement, and everything in between. Not to worry, it’s completely normal! Freshman year in college is such an exciting time and we’re sure you’re looking for tips from all kinds of sources like your parents, siblings, and other family members. This is why we thought it would be helpful to include all the advice you could ever need to really take advantage of your freshman year in college! 

In this article we’re going to cover topics related to:

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  • Why freshman year in college is so important
  • Advice to freshman to stay on top of your academics
  • How to make friends
  • And our top tips for enjoying your first year of college

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Why freshman year in college is so important

Think freshman year in college isn’t that important, think again!

college freshmen in class
Start your college career off on the right foot freshman year. Image courtesy of Florida National University.

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As the start date for your freshman year in college approaches, we’re sure you’re starting to feel excited and a little scared. After all, starting your young adult life in a new environment is intimidating for almost anyone. Likely this is also the first time you’ll be away from home and on your own, which can cause you stress over the unknown. Don’t worry, you will be okay! 

But before you start your college career, it’s important to know that your first year can be one of the most crucial ones. They always say that in order to set yourself up for success, you’ve got to get started off on the right foot. Which is why going in with some advice on what to do your first year in college is essential for freshmen. Your freshman year is going to be full of firsts:

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  • A new living space
  • Sharing a dorm with roommates
  • Getting used to college level classes
  • Taking care of yourself
  • Growing in new ways

All of these firsts take place during your first two semesters on campus, so make sure you’re ready to take them on! Not only do you need to ensure you’re prepared to excel in your classes, but you want to take the time to figure yourself out as a person. There’s no other time in your life where you’ll have the opportunity to try so many new things, so make sure to take advantage of it. 

You don’t have to have everything figured out by the time your first year comes to a close, you do have three other years to reach your goals. But knowing there’s a lot of chances out there to find what you like (and what you don’t) can help you find just where you belong.

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Our advice to college freshmen

Follow these tips for starting college your freshman year on the right note

college freshmen hanging out on campus
Freshman year is an exciting and fun time in your life, so make the most of it. Image courtesy of Faculty Focus.

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While there is all kinds of useful advice out there for college freshmen, we thought we’d narrow it down to the most important parts of a successful and enjoyable first year. Here’s our advice on:

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  • Staying on top of your classes and succeeding in school
  • Making new friends in a new environment
  • Enjoying yourself on campus

Advice to stay on top of your courses

Go to class

While this might be obvious to some, there are still those out there that think you can miss class and still get everything out of your course. Missing class once in a while isn’t an issue, especially if you're sick or have a family emergency—professors understand these things sometimes happen. Other than those circumstances, we suggest you always plan to attend your lectures, group study sessions, or labs. 

You and your family are most likely paying for college so why would you not go to the classes you’re already paying for? While every class won’t necessarily be your favorite, you are still learning valuable information from an expert in the field. Class is the best way to get to know the material and learn what will and what won’t be on the midterm and final exams. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people! Getting a study buddy from your class is not only a smart way to keep your grades up, but you might just make a good friend in the process.

Find a spot to study

When you’re not going to class, you’re going to be studying. This is why it’s important to find a place where you can study successfully. This isn’t always in your dorm room either. There are a lot of distractions in your room (not to mention other people) that can make concentration difficult. Good thing colleges have all kinds of alternative places where you can get away and really hit the books.

Your first thought may be the library, and that is a solid option. However, consider other spaces on campus such as lounges, study rooms, or even in the student center. Some people can get a lot of work done in a coffee shop or at one of the restaurants on campus. Whichever spot you choose, just make sure you can sit down and tune out the noises around you. One of the best ways to do that is with a good set of headphones.

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college headphones
You can study anywhere on campus when you have the right headphones! Check out OCM’s entire selection of helpful tech for first year students. Image courtesy of OCM. 

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Get in the zone when you’re studying with a set of headphones to keep out distractions. No matter what tunes you like to study to, classical, EDM, ambient, or jazz, they’ll all sound amazing on these headphones.

Take good notes

When you’re attending lectures, you’ll need to learn how to take good notes. Note taking isn’t just about trying to scribble down exactly what the professor says, because who can honestly do that? Instead notes are meant to help you digest and remember the material in a way that makes sense to you. Experts suggest handwriting your notes helps your brain better synthesize the material. It takes longer than typing and gives you more time to think about how you want to summarize what is being said.

As you start to learn how your professors prefer to teach, you’ll learn what the important parts of each lecture should be written down. When you go back and review your notes there’s a greater chance you’ll understand them and remember them better when the test comes. Note taking is a skill, and you’ll get better at it as you progress through your classes.

Get to know your professors and advisors

You’ve probably already heard this from your parents and high school guidance counselors, but it’s always a good idea to reach out and get to know professors and advisors. Even if you’re taking a 101 level course with a hundred people in it, make the effort and stop by their office hours. And no, you are not bothering them by doing this, they want to meet the students who are taking their class!

Professors that you develop a rapport with can help you decide what courses or major are good for your interests. They may also suggest some of their colleagues' classes that you might enjoy too. Plus, they will be more than happy to write letters of recommendation for internships or other opportunities once you get to know them.

Often overlooked is the relationship you’ll have with your advisor. Some schools assign every freshman a first year advisor, while others wait until you declare a major. If you have an advisor seek them out and meet up to discuss your interests and plans for your first year and beyond. Chances are they know what types of classes would benefit you the most, and may even know of some opportunities for you to get experience at an internship or part time job. 

Join clubs, sports, or groups

When you first arrive on campus, it’s going to be a little overwhelming. There’s honestly no way around this! You’re in a new place and everything is new to you. But that’s the point of your first year in college, to get out of your comfort zone. If you have roommates, you will first need to get used to living with other people. If you end up being friends with your living companions, that’s great! But if you don’t that’s okay too, as long as you can agree to be respectful of each other, you’ll have no problem getting through the year.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to put yourself out there and join some groups or sports teams. Everyone who’s new on campus is in the same boat you are, and likely are scared they won’t make friends. But we’re here to tell you that you will! The more you get involved with the more people you’re exposed to, and the chances to make friends grows. You don’t have to join a ton of activities, just don’t be closed off to any that seem kind of interesting or fun. If you don’t like it, you can always move on.

Groups such as Greek life, honor societies, language clubs, or intramural sports are all great places to learn something new and meet some interesting people. 

Leave your dorm room

You can’t very well make friends if you’re always hanging out in your dorm room! While your roommates might become your new besties, it’s still solid advice to remember to get out and explore other areas and meet other people. You can start by keeping your door open when you’re not sleeping or studying, as this encourages people on your floor to drop in. 

Try not to be shy about popping your head into your neighbors’ open doorways and introducing yourself either! They probably are wishing you would anyway. You’re going to be sharing bathrooms and showers with the people in the rooms around you, so it’s a good idea to try and get to know them.

Getting out and exploring campus or attending some of the many events hosted each week is also a good reason to get out of your dorm. Going to events or lectures with other freshmen is a great way to bond. Don’t forget, you’re all going through this together.

Get a part time job

If you can snag a part time job or get a work study arrangement that’s perfect. Having a little cash on hand is always a good thing. If you can get something on campus that’s in your field of study, that’s even better, but if not that’s okay too. Getting a job will give you a little bit of spending money you can use on the weekends or when you want to treat yourself. But it will also get you experience working with professionals in the real world.

Whether that’s in your school’s alumni office, the athletic department, food service, or as a TA for a professor, these are all valuable learning experiences. 

Enjoying your first year as a freshman 

Take care of yourself

This is the first time you will be responsible for yourself, so make sure you get started on the right foot! Create a routine that works for you, and keeps your body happy and healthy. Eat foods that are nourishing, and try to keep the splurging to a minimum. Make sure to develop good sleeping habits, as doing so will ensure you have the sustainable energy needed to get through your busy days.

Avoid too much caffeine, and make sure you’re prepared for class. This will help eliminate the chance of cramming in your studying the night before. Develop an exercise routine that works for you, whether it’s running, working out at the campus gym, or taking yoga classes. Your campus has all kinds of ways for you to stay active! Exercising is good for both your physical and mental health. 

Stay positive

Don’t worry about the unknowns of starting your first year. You’ll be fine! What’s scary and unfamiliar now will be easy in a few weeks. You will find your circle of friends and you’re going to have a great time in college. Just make sure to stay on top of your studies, and use every chance you have to go out and meet new people. If you start to feel a little homesick or sad, that’s okay, there are a lot of people on campus feeling the same way. 

Settling into college can take time, but before you know it, you’ll feel like this place has always been home. 

Explore your campus

Becoming familiar with your campus can help you feel more at home, and less lost. Get out and take walks or bike through your campus. Learn where all the buildings are, not just where your classes take place. Check out the museum or visit popular attractions on the campus. When this environment starts to become familiar and routine, you’ll know you’ve really settled in!

You’re going to hear a lot of good advice before you start your freshman year of college. Just make sure to keep an open mind and you’ll find yourself fitting in before you know it. 

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