Freshman Year Recap and Tips for You

Hello Everyone! I know that it has been at least a month since school has begun and by now hopefully you have gotten into a routine that is best suited for you. If not, you are probably dying under all the course work and you’re falling behind. That’s how I was during my first year in college. Freshman year was not my best year but a lot of important things that needed to happen, even though I did not enjoy them, did happen and it made me grow a lot. Without even wanting to change, I did change. College does that to a person. Not only are you growing in your academics but you’re growing as a person.

On August 17, 2016 I moved into my dorm with the help of my mother. In six hours, my new home would be a 10 foot by 11 foot room fit for two people. And I hated it. Freshman year was off to a bad start before classes even begun. For the first semester of college I was constantly going home (which by the way was a 45 minute to an hour drive) or I was waiting for traffic to lessen so I could go home. I was miserable and my grades suffered because of it. I would wake up, go to class, go back to my dorm and take a nap until Houston traffic settled down enough to where I could drive safely, and then go home at 8 pm. I was struggling to do any homework or study because of how miserable I constantly felt. On top of this, I was failing in making any friends.

On December 17 2016, everything about freshman year changed. I moved to a new apartment about 10 minutes away from my University and let me tell you, it was the best thing that could have happened for me. I was excited to go to school knowing I could spend all day there and then come home. During this new semester, I met some of the best people I have come to know and made amazing friends. For the first time all freshman year, I began to participate in school. I was going to cafes and having study groups with my new friends. I was even able to participate in research with two of my friends and presented at a research symposium. While I ended the year still trying to fix everything I messed up during the first semester, I was finally experiencing moments that I would remember for the rest of my life.

Now, I am not about to end this post without giving you some advice to avoid my mistakes. A big piece of advice is do not try to change. Do not go into college with the mindset that you want to be a completely different person by the end of the year. It will happen, trust me. You’re in a completely different environment and you are growing up and you will change but you don’t need to force it. If you do, you will spend all your time on trying to change instead of experiencing things that will make you change. You’re going to be a different person when you return home next summer but it is going to be caused by the people you meet and the places you go, not because you forced yourself to change.

The second thing I am going to advise you of is to get involved with anything and everything. I have read a thousand things saying to only join two clubs because you’re going to be so busy with your classes. While that is partly true, each club usually only meets once a month and any events they have are usually on weekends. Understand that the clubs are ran by the students and these students are in the same boat as you. They are not going to schedule a huge mandatory event around the time of finals and midterms. But do more than just join the clubs. Participate in each club. Give your all. College builds you by causing you to experience things. If I would have done one thing over it would have been being more involved. If you find yourself overwhelmed with the clubs and feel as if your grades are slipping, then take a step back. Like I said, the clubs are ran by students so they will understand if you cannot make an event or attend a meeting if you have been an active member in the clubs to begin with.

My final tip is if you find yourself falling behind or you end up having a terrible semester and you must use your spring semester for damage control, take summer classes. I know, you’re probably thinking that if you had a terrible first year why would you continue taking classes instead of taking a break? In the summer, you’re only allowed to take 1 or 2 classes. Take a class that you have heard is a little easier or a class that you would honestly enjoy. If you love math and you are thrilled to take calculus, then take that over the summer. If you love English, take an English class. Even if your major does not require the class you really believe you would enjoy, still take it DURING THE SUMMER ONLY. This is because you will only be doing one class for five weeks and if you put in the dedication and work in for a class you enjoy then it is going to boost your confidence and you will end with a good grade that can help your GPA. This is how I broke out of my ‘funk’ from freshman year. By the end of the summer, I was ready to go back to school. I had my confidence back and I found methods to use from my summer classes, like certain ways to take notes, that I knew would help me sophomore year. I was no longer afraid I would repeat the previous year because now I thought I would continue from my summer classes. At the end of the day, I did not enjoy freshman year. I hate even thinking about freshman year because it brings back the emotions from that year. My biggest tip is the summer classes, that is what changed my mood and my confidence and I was ready to start taking harder classes the following semester. The way I look at how summer classes affected me was like a game with different levels. If you start a game and it is already difficult to beat on level one, how is taking a break going to help? But if you have one or two levels that are easy, then it is going to make you ready to go onto the third level that you know will be more difficult.

I know college can be hard. I was a straight A student in high school and then I went to struggling the first year in college. But we live in a world where you need a college degree to get a well-paying job so you can start a family and live comfortably. My English professor from my summer class knew that the majority of us who were taking summer classes were either trying to get ahead or we were struggling to survive. He told us that we have already completed a semester and so we have already accumulated debt because of student loans we had to take out for college. The worst situation we could put ourselves in is to start college and not ever finish. If you were to do that, you would have money you owe and a minimum wage job that would barely help you. You’re in a losing situation if you quit college after already starting. I know college can be difficult. But you are strong and you can be great. Study and work hard. This is your first time entering an adult world. You no longer have anyone forcing you to study or making sure you attend class. Remember, a baby stumbles and falls when they first try to walk but they never think maybe walking isn’t for them. You have overcome other things and you will overcome college as well.