What are some good tips for college freshmen on how to survive your first year?

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Answered by: Monique, An Expert in the Surviving Your First Year Category
It's normal to feel a bit nervous in the weeks leading up to your first day of college. The thought of meeting new people, taking eye-opening classes, and living away from home can evoke anxiety, but these are all life-changing opportunities that you should be looking forward to!

This article contains 4 tips for college freshmen that will help make your college experience more fulfilling, and give you the tools you need to avoid common mistakes students make in their first year. If you're feeling more stressed than excited about starting this new chapter in your life, there's no need to worry; sit back, relax, and take notes.

1. Maintain a balanced lifestyle

When you're in your first year of college, it's easy to get caught up in extreme behaviours. Instead of studying a week before an exam, you may find yourself cramming the night before and wondering how much more RedBull you can drink before you start to have heart palpitations. As opposed to limiting your carb and alcohol intake, you might binge on both for weeks at a time with your new friends. Behaviours like this are extremely common although they are known to be unhealthy, hence the cliche phenomenon of "the freshman 15."

Before your first day begins and you are thrown into a busy environment, make a daily schedule based on your class schedule and any extracurriculars you want to join. Set aside a few hours each day for studying, and consider how much free time you have for socializing or relaxing. Adjust your schedule so that you have enough time for all facets of your life. That way, you'll be organized and content rather than exhausted and worn out.

In regards to a balanced diet, try to limit excess drinking and greasy foods to a few times a week or less. Before your first day, make note of the healthiest eateries across campus and the nearest grocery store. It's usually easier to find high-calorie fast foods than it is to find nutritious foods on a college campus. Educating yourself on where you can find nearby healthy options will help you immensely in maintaining a balanced diet.

2. Choose the right friends

Have you ever heard the phrase "you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with"? It's true, especially in college. As you continue to meet people and make friends in your first year, try to keep the good ones close and stay away from the ones with extreme behaviours. People who are ambitious, fun, and intelligent always great to have around. Trust your instincts; you'll know which friends are "right" for you by how you feel about them and how they influence you. If you can learn from them, grow with them, and have a great time in the process, then you've found the perfect company. If they influence you to be unproductive and encourage you to stray away from your focus, you may want to rethink the friendship!

3. Reach out for help when you need it

Just like it's normal to feel nervous before you go off to college, it's normal to struggle at times during your first year. If you find yourself struggling to maintain good grades or the stress of living away from home becomes too much, don't worry! Whatever your situation is, there is most likely a free service on campus to help you work through it. Take advantage of the academic and mental health counsellors, teaching assistants, and professors that are waiting to help you. That is their job, and in paying tuition you get access to their services, so why not use them?

Also, don't be afraid to vent to your friends (or acquaintances, if you haven't developed any friendships yet). Since you are experiencing your first year at the same time as them, chances are, they are dealing with some of the same problems. You'll both feel better knowing that someone else can relate to what you're going through. Calling a parent or other family member from back home is another way to cope; it's always beneficial to get advice from someone who has more experience than you do, and they'll be thrilled to hear from you.

Hopefully, these tips for college freshmen make surviving your first year a little easier. Mistakes are inevitable, so don't be too hard on yourself if you don't follow them to a tee. Be open to new people and experiences, and make the most of the four years ahead of you. Good luck!

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