Do's and Don'ts of Freshmen in College by a Freshman in College
What I Learned From My First Semester of College
I’ve recently finished my first semester of college, and I’ll be beginning my second semester in a couple weeks. I’m in community college and I’m still living at home so I don’t quite know everything, but I think what I’ve compiled so far is a good basis. Here’s what to know when you’re going into your first year of college.
DON’T: get super caught up in dating. Yes, it’s fun to date. Yes, it’s good to experiment and experience. But, ultimately, you’re there for the education. Maybe you meet the one while you’re in college. If so, that’s amazing, but remember that you’re paying for formal education. You shouldn’t risk it all for someone who isn’t worth it. Date if you want to, but have priorities. (Side note: know your worth. If you end up dating someone who treats you like shit, dump them. Also, don’t treat people like shit. We’re all just trying to get through life and we don’t need negativity.)
DO: stay on top of your homework. If you’re serious about your college education and if your future depends on it, then stay on top of your homework. In my first semester I had an online class and three on-campus classes. Three months later, I had dropped my online class and was failing one of my other classes because I didn’t keep up with my homework in those classes. My GPA suffered because dropping my online class gave me an unsatisfactory grade, aka 0 points toward my GPA. I managed to bring up my grade for my other class by catching up on work.
DON’T: procrastinate. I know—I know—how hard it is not to procrastinate. I live at home so I have a multitude of distractions, but I would expect it to be harder when you’re living on campus. You have friends to hang out with, food to eat, walls to decorate, the like. Limit yourself. Have a time table of when you’ll do all those things, but keep a space in your schedule of when you need to sit down and do your work. Listen to some relaxing study music to keep your mind focused when you’ve got a lot on your mind. Listen to some of your favorite bops to keep your mind pumping if you’re tired and need an energy boost. I’ve done both and both help at times. If you’ve got a roommate or friend with whom you’re comfortable enough, ask them for help with homework or studying.
DO: talk to your professors. I had to talk to my professors one because I had to fill out a progress report for a program I was in, and it was nice. Two of my professors had told me I was doing well and to keep up the good work, and another professor told me what I was lacking and what I could do to improve. Spoiler: I improved in that class. (I think that, knowing me, I needed my professor to tell me, “Step your shit up, you’re better than this, and I expect more from you.”)
DON’T: isolate yourself. Don’t stay in your room or the library 24/7. Although it’s good to have time alone to do whatever you need to do, be social. Even if you only have one or two friends, arrange some time with them. Being alone all the time gets really lonely. I didn’t make a single friend during my first semester, and I was only ever with two friends who were a couple or at home. I may have lost my mind a bit.
DO: get involved. Join a club, a music ensemble, an activism group, a frat—something. Whatever interests you, and won’t interfere with your education, I would say go for it. It’s a good opportunity to step away from the stress of school and to make friends. Odds are, whatever you want to do as an extracurricular activity, it exists. You may have to do a bit of digging, but it should be worth it.
DON’T: skip class. Especially when you don’t know anyone in the class and don’t have a way of acquiring missing notes. If you’re insanely sick, or if you’re in the midst of a personal, familial, and/or physical emergency, then try your best not to skip class. If you find yourself in a depressive episode and can’t find it in you to get out of bed, ask a friend to send you notes and please take care of yourself.
I’ll be going into my second semester on the 29th. Even though I messed up a lot during my first semester, I’ll be keeping my own advice in mind as I proceed through my education. Hopefully you, my dear reader, will too.