The Freshman Guide: Adjusting to the First Year of College

Jada Lawson

The transition from high school to college was one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced. My high school social circle was suddenly gone. I had to adjust to a brand-new environment and make a whole new set of friends. Along the way, I gathered some ideas on how to adjust to first-year challenges. Here are some tips.

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

If you’re shy, I know how difficult it can be to put yourself out there to make new friends. But there are ways to connect socially in situations where people aren’t surprised if you reach out.

In a classroom, for instance, you can simply say “hi” to whomever is sitting next to you. This usually sparks a conversation and an exchange of information. You might find you have a lot in common. 

Often at the beginning of freshman year, there are social events for meeting people. My university puts on a Silent Disco, a quieter alternative to a party: everyone wears headphones with different stations of music. Your headphones light up a different color depending on what you’re listening to. The greens dance with the greens, the reds with the reds, etc. Students allowed themselves to let go of their shyness and have fun. Lots of friendships were made. 

It’s also a good idea to join clubs. If your school has a designated location where events are posted, or an e-newsletter, check weekly to look for interesting events. Mark your calendar.

Get a job

Once you start making friends, you and your new circle are going to want to start doing fun things. Well, since nothing is free, it’s a good idea to get a job. Often recruiters come to campus to advertise jobs. Get friendly with upperclassmen who know where jobs can be found on campus, or look on your school website.

Make clear boundaries with your roommate 

Since you’ll be living with other individuals, it’s important that all of you get along. I’ve heard some pretty scary roommate stories, and some great ones. Luckily, I was blessed with a kind roommate. We got along by setting boundaries. She and I sat down and created a list of what we tolerated/did not tolerate. You can decide if you want guests in your room, how loud music can be at certain times, when quiet time is, and what the room temperature is (yes, this matters!). In some cases, you can work this out with your resident assistant (RA), but it’s also nice to do that on your own.

Get out of your room!

I cannot stress this enough: keeping yourself barricaded in your room will only make isolation worse. I speak from experience, since I spent a lot of time in my room talking on my phone, moping about not having friends, and missing old friends. This slipped me into slight depression for a while. My first year would have been much more enjoyable if I hadn’t spent so much time avoiding people. I know it can be hard, but you have to really motivate yourself to get out. Put your phone down and go out and interact with others. Try talking to the kids in the halls or your neighbors.

If you live close to home, don’t go back as much 

Since my dorm is only 30 minutes from home, I found myself going there quite often on the weekends and even during the week. I don’t advise this, since I didn’t get to socialize very much, and I missed out on a lot of campus events. Try staying on campus more often. 

Have fun!!

Often, we try to find flaws in our school just to have an excuse to leave or have someone feel sorry for us. If you think positively, positive things will come your way. Try turning your mindset to a positive one and watch how things get better. Now that I’m in my second year, I have a better attitude, I’m more open to fun, and I’m making sure I’m being social. This has enhanced my college experience to no end!

You will rock your first year! You got this! Good luck with everything!

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