The transition from high school to college is one that is different from any transition you have had before. Your new life as a college freshman may make you feel confused or pressured by the success of your peers – it feels like you’ll never catch up! In order to help you navigate the stress of your first semester, here are some helpful tips and things to remember.
1. Start out strong.
Your first semester at college will probably be your easiest one academically. Because of this, it can be easy to try and cruise to the end, thinking that you have nothing to worry about. However, this is exactly the time to lay the academic foundation that the rest of your college years will fall on by aiming for the highest GPA possible. It is better to start with a high GPA while it’s “easy” that takes a few dings over the years than to try to build a GPA from the bottom up as you get closer to graduation.
2. Figure out your limits.
For most college students, balancing classes, work, and social time is a challenge. Use your first semester to test your limits and see what you can handle. Maybe you realize that in order to get good grades, you don’t have time for a job. Or maybe you try working for a few weeks and realize that you can handle the hustle for extra money. Everyone has different limits – the main thing to remember is not to make yourself go crazy trying to do ten things at once! If you can’t handle as much as you thought you could, go a little easier on yourself. If you find that you have some extra time on your hands, see what more you can do.
3. Step into the unknown.
High school was a place where everyone knew everyone. As a freshman in college, you’re a new student and so is everyone else. Take advantage of the fact that there are no expectations to fulfill from your peers and try things you wouldn’t have before. Joining new clubs, attending sporting events, and putting energy into something you might not have done in high school are all good ways to leave your comfort zone. You could find something you love and build your resume at the same time.
4. Make connections.
Take your first semester, and the next four years, to talk to anyone you cross paths with. You never know who someone else knows, or who might be helpful to have a connection with in the future. Establishing a network of people who also have their own networks of people opens up opportunities for friendships, relationships and even business connections that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Keep an open mind and engage with everyone you talk to in class and in your residence hall in order to cultivate not only friendships but also your future career.
5. Don’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself.
This one is hard but it is one of the most important. Everyone at college is on their own timeline, going through life at their own pace. There will always be someone who has achieved more than you, and this will never change! Instead of focusing on what others are doing and how you can emulate their success, focus on who you were in the past compared to where you are now. Decide who you want to be in the future and how you can get yourself from point A to point B, not how others got to their point B.
Experiencing fear while entering your freshman year of college is normal! Remember that you get out from it what you put in, and that there are more things to be excited about than afraid of. Following these tips will relieve a lot of stress for you later on, and will help you make the most of your freshman year, because you only get one freshman year.
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