Being a freshman is a wonderful, simple time where everything is new and you can comfortably embarrass yourself by raising your hand to ask to go to the bathroom during a lecture.
It’s okay, you’re a freshman. Everyone knows it and that’s okay.
Even if it seems like you’re lowest on the totem pole, you’ve actually got an advantage. Decisions you start this year will shape your future years in college still to come. With this in mind, here are some things that I wish I had known as a first-semester student.
First, when you get to school, you’re going to need to talk to people. I know it seems scary, but the reality is that all your classmates are in the same boat as you. When you get to your first class and sit in awkward silence next to someone, there’s a good chance you’re both waiting for the other to say something. Great friendships can start with friendly greetings or questions in class.
Outside of class, it’s important to remember that your roommate can be your friend, but they don’t have to be. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can only be friends with the people you live with. Be open to make friends outside of your living situation. You’ll widen your social circle in no time.
Your first year is also a great time to get to know your campus and get an edge going into the semester. Stick around the first couple weekends and get to know what there is to do around your town. Go out during the weekday and check out buildings you don’t see everyday. Remember where all the important offices are, and, if you have the opportunity, talk to a secretary or worker and find out their names. Knowing your campus will come in handy once you need a place to work or a schedule error fixed quick. Your friends will thank you for being the one who knows how to get things done.
First-semester freshmen can also ask as many questions as they want without fear of judgement, so do it! Ask your professor questions about your major and career plans. Ask upperclassmen you meet about classes to watch out for, what books you’ll actually need, and any campus tricks they’ve learned. Chances are they’ll be happy to impress you by sharing the location of a bathroom no one knows about or the right hallway to cut through to get across campus quickest. Make sure you ask questions about your schedule to your academic advisor and if you’re on the right track. Basically, never stop soaking in information about this place your parents just dropped you off in. Soon, you’ll be an expert.
These things are the basics I wish someone had shouted at me everyday during my freshman year. Do these things, on top of your classwork and getting involved with clubs on campus (like Cru! Check out cru.org!), and you’ll be the one freshmen that you can’t spot a mile away. Have fun and embrace the awkwardness!
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