What You Really Need to Know as a College Freshman

The start of college is right around the corner for students across the country. As a soon-to-be college freshman, I remember going through spurts of great excitement and terror every day leading up to move-in. Transitioning to college symbolized adulthood and independence. I wanted to do it all my own way and embrace every moment of this new life. 

Looking back at my freshman year I have to laugh at myself a bit. Although I thought I was doing everything my own way, I was really just following what everyone else told me. I read articles, had conversations and researched things like how to get along with your roommate, a list of essentials to bring to college and what to get involved in on campus. All were helpful resources, but all left me feeling overwhelmed and as though going to college as Laura Jean Ecklund was not good enough. Relentless Google searches have a way of doing that. 

My college experience turned out to be one of the best parts of my life thus far. My view of God, culture and community was completely transformed and I learned valuable lessons I will carry with me forever. Making fifteen Target runs to get hangers, XL twin sheets and special dorm storage organizers that are overly priced did not prepare me for the journey I was about to embark on. Because I now work with soon-to-be college students as a career and was a college freshman myself back in the day, I want to share with you the ins and outs of what you really need to know as a college freshman.

Less is More
College dorm rooms are small. It does not matter where you attend school, you will have less room than you think. Practice minimalism and purging now before you move in and have to send ½ your belongings back home with your parents. Department stores have a sneaky way of making you think you need anything and everything for your dorm room. Besides the addition a few indoor dorm plants and correct fitting sheets, what you own already is plenty.

Branch Out
Your first few months of college are crucial to reaching out and making friends. I know it is awkward to initiate conversations and attend activities, but everyone feels the same way. The students who dive right in and work on making connections from the beginning typically transition the best. If you are going to a school with others you already know, give yourself some space to meet new people. It can be really easy to rely on relationships that are already built, but then you will miss out on new opportunities right in front of you.

Ask for Help
You have likely heard before that your time in college makes up the best years of your life. I am not a fan of this saying. I think it sets up unrealistic expectations and puts a damper on many exciting parts of life that happen afterwards. Going into college thinking this will be the best ever leaves too large of a margin for hurt and let down if it is difficult. I loved college. It was such an important part of my life so far, but it also had a lot of hard moments and seasons. One of the biggest mistakes a college student can make is not asking for help when needed. Don’t be afraid to meet with a tutor to discuss study options. Stop by your resident director’s apartment to talk through your roommate situation. Make an appointment with a counselor to have a listening ear in the college transition process. Colleges are set up with resources around every corner. It is your responsibility, however, to own your independence and reach out to grab them.

What tips do you have for college freshman?
What is something you appreciated about your college experience?