Navigating Your First Year of College

Surviving your first year of college

Getting into college is a major accomplishment, but, as you prepare for your freshman year, you might feel uncertain and even afraid. We’re here to guide you through your academic journey and provide support as you begin your first year of college. 

Some students go to college straight out of high school. Others have gone down less traditional paths and are  beginning their higher education after living for a period as adults. Regardless of when you start college, your first year can be filled with stressful situations you might be unsure how to handle.

While your first year can be difficult, we have some great tips to help you successfully navigate your first year of college.  

Tips for Navigating Your First Year of College

Entering your first year of college can be exciting, yet nerve-racking. The rest of this post will go over some essential tips for college freshmen. Use this advice as you begin your year and plan for the upcoming semester!

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Your College Admissions Journey, Mapped Out!

Introducing our college planning timeline with a handy checklist of essential tasks, a step-by-step guide for every grade level, from freshman to senior year, AND financial aid, college applications, extracurricular activities, and more.

Establish a Schedule and Attend Classes

The first thing you’ll want to do as a college freshman is create a schedule for yourself. It’s tempting to wing your first year of college and do whatever you want. But, having a set schedule will make it a lot easier to navigate coursework and accomplish everything you want to do—both socially and academically. 

Of course, your class schedule will be set for you ahead of time. But, you want to ensure that you are attending your classes on time and not missing lectures. It won’t be easy to keep your grades up if you don’t do this. In addition to sticking to your academic schedule, you should also plan out when you will study, have meals, attend extracurricular activities, and even socialize. 

This can seem like overkill, but you’ll benefit from knowing in advance when you should be in class or studying, and when you’ll have free time to relax or participate in clubs and other activities. Your schedule doesn’t have to be completely rigid. You can stay flexible so you can have fun on campus, but setting out time to study and work is essential and will help you manage stress levels!

Bring Everything You Need

Plan ahead before  moving into your dorm. Not every college student lives on campus, but, if you’re moving away from home for the first time, you’ll need to bring all your essentials with you. This includes proper attire for the weather, bedding, towels, toiletries, and other essentials. 

But be careful not to overpack. Dorm rooms aren’t that big, and moving tons of stuff back home at the end of the year can be a huge hassle. So, consider what you actually need to bring to college, and try to be practical. You can look over this list to see what college essentials you should consider bringing.

Be Open to Joining a Club or Taking Part in Campus Activities

College is a time to explore, exposing yourself to different people, places, activities, and ideas. What better way is there to connect to your campus and its social scene than through a club or student organization? 

You might be nervous to put yourself out there and meet new people, but college campuses are the perfect place to forge new friendships and get out of your comfort zone. 

Most college campuses have a wide variety of activities and organizations to join. Whatever interests you have, you can probably find people on campus who share your passions and hobbies.

And, if you’re curious and want to try out something new, there’s no better time than freshman year. In college, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to discover who you are and what you’ are capable of!

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out for Help if Your Need It

College can be a lot of fun, especially during your first year. But, it can be overwhelming trying to balance your academic and your social lives. For many students, this is the first time they’ve left home, which likely means you’ll enjoy an unprecedented degree of freedom.

It’s exciting to make your own decisions and forge your own path, but if you find yourself are struggling to find your place or to keep up with your academics, don’t be afraid to reach out. Keep connected with family, friends, roommate, and professional resources on campus. 
Many college campuses have mental health resources to help you! Contact mental health counselors, your academic advisor, and on-campus tutors if you need them. And don’t forget to take advantage of your professors’ office hours.

Have Fun and Create Lasting Memories

Finally, don’t forget to have fun and create memories during your first year of college. It might seem like college will last forever. After all, four years is a long time to be in one place, but before you know it, you’ll leave college behind and start the next chapter of your life. Make new friends, try new things, and enjoy your first taste of freedom. But most of all, enjoy the small moments that make you happy—walking to class on an autumn day, finding the perfect study spot, debating with classmates, hanging out with friends, going to football games, sipping coffee at your favorite cafe. 

There are so many things that you will miss about campus life once you leave it behind. You want to enjoy these moments while they last and not take this time for granted!

We at HelloCollege aim to help you get the most out of your university preparations. For more information about paying for college, and choosing a major that will aid in helping pay back student loans contact us.

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The Hello College Team

HelloCollege CEO Andrea Emmons has spent the last 15 years guiding students and families across the country on their path to college. Andrea knows the profound impact proactive college planning has on the lives of students and is passionate about mentoring families through the process.
Kevin Krebs - Founder of HelloCollege

About Our Founder

Kevin Krebs

Inspired by his parents, Kevin’s journey from a first-gen, diverse, low-income background to Northwestern University shaped him. After experiencing challenges, including student loan debt, he founded HelloCollege and has spent the last 25 years helping students successfully navigate college admissions.

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