What is the first year of college like?

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Answered by: Rachel, An Expert in the Surviving Your First Year Category
So, you're a high school senior. Or maybe you just graduated. Or maybe you're a sophomore in high school who is just super prepared for life! Any way you slice it, you're getting ready for your first year of college. And why shouldn't you? College is an amazing, terrifying, beautiful time in life - free from the majority of life's responsibilities and out from under your parents' watchful eyes. But if we're honest with ourselves, the thought of so much newness and freedom can be a little daunting. Read on for five tips on surviving your freshman year.

1. Ask Questions. I know, I know - no one wants to look dumb. You just went from being top dog of your high school to being the newbie, but let's face it: there are things you really don't know. Like the best way to get textbooks, or how that quirky Literary Criticism professor grades tests. Ask all of the questions, my friend. Ask about the cafeteria. Get advice on spirituality. And, yes: ask for directions. Your future self will thank you.

2. Make Friends. It can be scary, but try opening up to the people around you, and let them open up to you. You eat together, study together, and lament the woes of Calc I together, so go a little deeper! Everyone has a story. Get curious about the people around you, and let them in to your life, as well.

3. Try New Things. New things can be scary. Especially when it feels like your whole life is new: new city, new roommate, new schedule. But embracing your situation of all things new will dissipate some of the fears into adventure. So, go ahead: join your friends on that camping trip. Take a taste of that new, funny-smelling food your roommate makes. Sign up for that extra seminar.College is an adventure; lean in to it.

4. Visit Home. This one can be tricky. You just left home - why would you want to go back!? However, if your home is a safe place, it's important to remember the relationships you have with your family and childhood friends. They were there for you for the last 18 years, and chances are, they'll continue to support you forever.

5. Be Yourself! Friends on your hall, students in your cafeteria, and professors in classes bring with them a multiplicity of experiences, preferences, and ideas. While it's invigorating and worthwhile to dig into relationships and new experiences, it's important to remember who you are. Spend time with yourself, and find something that keeps you grounded. As you take in so many new thoughts and ideas, you might find it helpful to keep a journal of thoughts, where you can process your emotions, new philosophies, and hopes for the future. No one can do this for you, so it's important to prioritize this for yourself. Focus on what you like about yourself, how you'd like to grow, and the person you'd like to be as you age. And then, share your beautiful self with those around you!

Congratulations on life already lived, and good luck with your first year of college!

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