Entering freshman year can feel stressful and nerve-racking, but it’s also the beginning of one of the most incredible experiences of your life. From expanding your mind and making new friends, to trying out different clubs and participating in weird school traditions, you’re entering a fresh and exciting chapter of your life. To make your first year an easy (and fun) transition, we’ve gathered some of the best and most unique freshman advice tips for you.
Advice for college freshmen:
- Remember that everyone is in the same boat.
- Get excited about failure.
- Don’t get too attached to one career path.
- Procrastinate… with other things on your to-do list.
- Make friends with people who are different from you.
- Make the most of each day.
Remember that Everyone is in the Same Boat
Looking around your college campus, you’re going to be under the impression that everyone has their act together. In reality, though, no one knows what they’re doing—just like you. All freshmen are new to the college experience. You are not alone, uncool, or “lame” for needing an adjustment period. Use this transition as a shared experience that can help you relate to and bond with other freshmen. If another person is wearing the same school colors as you, then you already have one thing in common!
And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you want insights from professors or a lending hand from a new college friend, you’re not expected to “know it all” your freshman year. People will be more than willing to tell you what they know—and what they don’t know. If and when you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost, just remember that everyone else is feeling the same way. Open up to a college dorm mate or a classmate in your major, and you may just make a new friend.
Feel a little more prepared for your freshman year with these dorm room essentials for first year students.
Get Excited About Failure
You will fail. At something. At some point. Whether it’s failing a pop quiz, losing a game as a student-athlete, or doing something embarrassing in front of your friends, odds are that you will trip up at least once in the next four years—if not just in the next four days!
When I was in college, I once got a 0% on a psychology pop quiz, which was a huge feat because the professor gave out two points for just putting your student ID number on the paper. I forgot to even include that and just wrote my name. When she gave the pop quizzes back, she made an announcement (and a joke at my expense) that a student in the class received a 0% on the exam, which she’d never seen before in any of her classes. Whoops! At that point, there was a little egg on my face, but I went to the professor after class and apologized. We both thought it was absurdly funny, especially considering I was a good student, and we laughed it off together. I explained that I had been sick and had gotten behind on schoolwork, but I guaranteed her I would still get an A in her class that semester—and I did! The professor was so proud of me.
If the idea of failing stresses you out, then it’s time to retrain your brain. The failure itself doesn’t matter; what does matter is how you handle it. Do you need to apologize? Do you need to reprioritize? Do you need to ask for more help or seek out tutoring and other resources? Did you ask enough questions? What can you do differently next time?
Of course, you don’t want to let failure become constant in your life, or you’ll likely end up in a tough situation. But having a bad day here or there isn’t the end of the world, as long as you learn, grow, and work harder after it.
Don’t Get Too Attached to One Career Path
The greatest freshman advice is to not decide your entire fate during this one tumultuous year. There’s a lot of pressure to choose a career and life path, from selecting a major, to applying for internships, to your relatives at Thanksgiving asking if you’ve found a job yet. Don’t succumb to the pressure. Let them ask, but don’t get bothered by it.
The purpose of college is to learn and to find the right fit. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Take classes that interest you. Experience everything that your school has to offer. Listen, no one has all the answers; even people in their 40s and 50s are often wondering what they want to “be” when they grow up. Give yourself the time, space, and freedom to determine your path without pressure, and we promise you’ll come up with a better solution than if you’re forced to make a decision.
This is a unique article about the 7 strange questions that help you find your life’s purpose, since life is about so much more than just a career.
Psst… Browse our Campus Colors accessories like you’re browsing all of your potential career paths!
Procrastinate… with Things Lower on Your To-Do List
One of the worst pieces of advice for college freshmen that we always hear is “don’t procrastinate.” Don’t listen to that. Everyone procrastinates. We all get a little unfocused or unmotivated at times. Thinking that you will never procrastinate and always do exactly what you need to do at the exact moment you need to do it is both unrealistic and unhealthy.
Instead, embrace those natural moments of procrastination. If you are feeling totally unmotivated to do that math homework that’s due next week, then procrastinate with something else that’s productive. Do your laundry. Go to the gym. Socialize for an hour with a friend. Browse Campus Colors for a cool college T-shirt. Be productive with your procrastination, rather than scouring social media or indulging in too many video games.
Note: Avoid procrastination when it’s important, though. If you have an essay due tomorrow, you should focus on it today to ensure you meet your deadlines. Things that are both urgent and important should always be at the top of your to-do list. This idea of urgency and importance stems from the Eisenhower Principle, which is a productivity tool for using your time effectively and efficiently.
Want to be more productive? Check out this free quiz by ToDoist to see which productivity method fits best with your strengths, challenges, and goals! (I got: Eat the Frog.)
Make Friends with Different People
You may have had a “clique” in high school or a group of friends with whom you felt comfortable. Going to college, you might feel uncertain about making new friends, but one of the coolest parts about college is that you’ll be exposed to and living with a diverse range of people. With different backgrounds, majors, interests, career goals, personalities, and more, you have access to learning from all kinds of people. You may be surprised who you end up “clicking” with, and they’ll likely influence you profoundly—both in college and post-graduate.
Not sure how to start making friends in college? Check out this guide for in-depth information on what friends “are,” how to meet people, and how to strike up genuine relationships.
Make the Most of Each Day
When I think back on my college experience, the days seem so fleeting. You only have four years at college, and the time goes by a lot faster than you might expect. The only regret I have from college are those days I “wasted” by binging television shows alone or sleeping in too late. I don’t regret watching TV—when it was with my college roommates and we were laughing the whole time. I also don’t regret studying hard to graduate with honors and set my life up for success. I don’t regret trying new clubs (even if I ended up hating them) or talking to new people, or making mistakes. I don’t regret exploring the surrounding city, tailgating with friends, going to local festivals, or any other moments filled with fun or new experiences. I only regret the moments that I wasn’t living in the moment.
That’s why we wanted to write this article for you.
If you take away any freshman year advice from this article, it’s this: be present in the moment. Don’t get bogged down, overwhelmed, or anxious; there's plenty of college freshman advice out there. College is full of enriching, exciting experiences at every turn—as long as you’re open and ready to take them on.
To the alumni, what freshman advice helped you most in college? To the incoming first years, what advice for college freshmen resonates with you the most? Share this article with your thoughts, and don’t forget to tag @CampusColors!