5 Tips To Survive (And Own) Your Freshman Year

September 12, 2016

As we reluctantly bid farewell to summer cookouts and Netflix binges, we turn our attention to the start of the school year. Some of you may have already conquered your campus and carved out a piece of it for yourself, but, for many of you, college will be your first year away from home. Here are TCE’s top 5 tips on how to survive (and own) your freshman year experience:

1. Actually go to class. Shocking, right?

Your parents won’t be walking you to class anymore. It’s time to put on your big kid shoes and actually attend class. Unlike high school where you can usually make up a test or quiz if you’re absent, in college it’s much different. By skipping class not only are you missing material that likely won’t be covered again, falling behind on schoolwork, and making more work for yourself, but you’re also doing yourself a disservice when considering how much you paid for tuition…(drops mic).

2. Schedule “me” time.

We know, there are like 10,000 clubs you want to join on campus and only 24 hours in a day. Regardless, it’s important to spend 20 to 30 minutes each day just focusing on yourself. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself by all the amazing opportunities, burn yourself out early, and then never have a chance to participate in anything. Spend the last 20 to 30 minutes of your day just relaxing ­ whether this means reading a book, catching up with family, or just going to bed early, use this time to step away from the stresses of school.

3. It’s cool to use a planner.

While it is important to schedule “me time,” it’s also important to be maximizing the hours in a day to get more stuff accomplished. For example, if you have around 3 hours of homework for the day and you put it off until late night, it’s likely you will be missing out on some club meetings, social events, and fun stuff since that generally happens at the same time. By figuring out where you have gaps in your schedule, and then utilizing them to catch up on schoolwork, meals, and other important stuff, you’ll save time for “fun” things at night. Just buy an agenda, use your phone, or download one of those fancy apps ­ whatever works for you!

4. Go to your professor’s office hours.

This one’s often overstated but under utilized. Your professors actually want to help you (shocking, I know). Trust me, I can’t remember the number of times I’ve walked past a professor’s office and found them just sitting there staring at the wall. Actually go to their office hours and introduce yourselves to them! Even if you don’t have any questions, it’s a great way to begin making professional connections, learn about their work, and who knows, spark some sort of interest within yourself. Also, they’ll love you more for not having wasted their time doing nothing.

5. Network, network, network!

If you’re a college freshman, you’re probably like, “wait what, isn’t networking for, like, old people!?” To answer your question: No.

To get right to the point, the workforce is competitive. A college degree is essential for getting most jobs in the marketplace, but what also counts is how well you know people and your experience. Unfortunately, to usually get the experience in your desired field means knowing how to network with industry professionals . While you should certainly take advantage of your university’s career services (most of them have workshops on resume writing, networking, cold calling employers, etc.), you should also begin to forge relationships with your fellow peers. Come a decade down the line, and it’s the people around you who will inevitably be holding some of the positions that you may want. Just be yourself, genuine, and humble and the “networking” piece usually comes by itself.

About The Author

The College Essayist, Guest Blogger
The College Essayist, Guest Blogger

We’re The College Essayist, a free student-run global college access organization on a mission to democratize access to higher education. We’re a group of high school students and undergraduates who are here to help you rock high school, annihilate college admissions, and conquer the college years and beyond through online resources, services, and informative (read: informal, awesome, and rad) articles. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or tumble on over with us on Tumblr.




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ashleyzo
USC ‘20


Accepted to USC, Dartmouth, Emory, UMich, Rochester, Lehigh, Miami, Alabama, Ole Miss

Hi! I'm a college freshman who was accepted to some of the best universities in the country (most likely due to my essays). Feel free to ask any questions!
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Stanford ‘19


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Hi there! I went to an American school in Hong Kong from K-12 and will be starting my freshman year at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in the fall. If you're interested in theater and come from overseas, I would be of particular help to you!
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