Do what everyone else does if you want to end up where everyone else ends up.
This applies particularly well to freshman year in college.
The biggest difference between college and high school is your own choices. You suddenly have authority over your own life. Do you want to sleep in late? That’s your choice. Do you want to score high? That’s also your choice.
There is limited hand holding from your teachers or parents.
This freedom comes with a challenge. It’s a challenge that many freshman struggle to overcome. When you’re given the freedom to make good decisions you’re also given the responsibility not to make stupid ones. 😛
The Biggest Cliche Of All
“In college, I’m going to fix all my social, academic, and personal problems! I’m going to be a new me!”
No… You’re not.
I know this is a little harsh but it’s true.
College allows you to change big things about yourself but changing these things isn’t a given. These fundamental problems you’re hoping to overcome are major challenges. College won’t magically make them easy to fix. Most students come to college hoping to fix problems until they realize…
College doesn’t fix problems. It usually just exacerbates them.
Do you suck at studying for class? College will make studying harder.
Are you struggling with friendships? College will just make it harder.
Do you want to change your habits? Again… college just makes it harder.
Does this suck? Maybe but it comes with an important point:
Give yourself a break!
You can change yourself but don’t expect to magically change overnight. Pick something small and start there. Take your problems one at a time. You can handle them that way.
The Freshman Fifteen
Have you ever heard that you’ll gain fifteen pounds in freshman year?
This is one of those common challenges that freshman face. This is a classic freshman cliche.
Getting the freedom to eat whenever and whatever you want is also a responsibility. You’re now more responsible than ever. If you make a mistake then you’re going to end up seeing the consequence.
Watch what you eat. There are two simple approaches to preventing this:
1. Eat the same as you did before college.
2. Eat the same things (almost) everyday and keep it healthy.
Keep your solutions simple. You have plenty of other things to worry about.
One (Or Ten) Too Many
Don’t try to compete in drinking games with experienced drinkers. You’ll lose and make a fool of yourself at the same time.
If you choose to drink then be an adult about it. (There is a reason people don’t think young people should drink. Do you really want to prove them right?)
You may be able to get away with more than ever but you still have to live with consequences.
Remember these 2 things:
1. You’re not competing with anyone.
2. Alcohol will just make your problem worse.
Lost And Late For Class
The first day of freshman year should be one of the only days you consider being late unacceptable.
Yes… I know students get away with it all the time.
The only consequence is a nasty look or two.
That doesn’t mean you should let yourself be late.
Find your class before you need to go to class. Scope out the area a day or two before you start classes.
Why should you do this?
Because it’s a whole lot more fun than putting on your idiot face as you stare down at your campus map. (The seniors are laughing at you.)
Seriously… you’re paying for class in college.
There is almost no good excuse to miss class. You don’t get a refund for missed classes.
I get it… sometimes you’ll be sick. That’s okay. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. That’s okay. The problem comes when you start thinking skipping is acceptable.
If your class is small enough for the teacher to take attendance (or close) then you should never miss your class. Your teacher will notice. Your teacher will judge you and lower your score for it. (Not all of your grade is objective. Any subjective bits will be judged harshly.)
There are times when skipping might be acceptable.
Here is the important point though:
It’s easier to not have to choose between showing up and skipping.
Don’t debate about it for an hour. Just show up. It’s easier that way.
Are you too sick for class? Learn more here.
Are you too tired for class? Learn more here.
College Is So Hard!
This is another one seniors will laugh at you for.
You’re in freshman year. If you think freshman year is hard then you’re going to have a hard time here.
This may be a real challenge for you but that’s not the typical situation. (Unless you happen to be in one of a handful of super hard majors.)
Some students show up to harder colleges than their high school prepared them for. That’s a serious challenge that everyone can respect.
Unfortunately, most students spend no time working on their class. Then they complain about hard college is.
If you’re at a college event having fun and then tell people about how tough college is, people will be amused by it (unless they’re in the same boat as you.) Why are you having fun when you’re struggling through class? Go home and figure stuff out!
I get it. Some people can have fun and still kick-butt in class. They can usually get away with that because they’re already prepared. You may have some catching up to do. Catch up!
Complaining won’t get you anywhere. If you’re really struggling then you shouldn’t have time to complain. Do stuff. Don’t whine about it.
What’s The Point Of This Article
College isn’t easier than high school.
Sure… some aspects are easier. If you’re going to a non-competitive college then it could easily end up easier academically. Academics aren’t the only challenge in college. There is also EVERYTHING ELSE.
Don’t fall for the usual freshman cliche.
Be realistic. Set reasonable standards. Learn to take on each challenge as it comes.
You can’t do everything…
But you can do this!
What challenges did you face freshman year? Do you have any advice for our readers?
Image Sources: IntelFreePress, AuburnAlumniAssociation, Michael Johansen, Three_If_By_Bike, George Hodan, Ian L, DVIDSHUB
Kay W. is a 3.8 GPA student that spends most of her time on her hobbies and only studies when she gets bored. She originally found Smart Student Secrets 4 years ago and now she fights the good fight writing articles to help other students make the changes she made.
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