College can be one of the best experiences of your life, or one of the worst. Make sure you come into your freshman year prepared for what lies ahead.
One of the best things about going to college is that making friends is much easier than it has ever been. There are no established friend groups yet, meaning almost everyone you meet (with the few exceptions of High School friends that went to college together) is open to new friendships.
Even though I chose to stay in state and go to a college full of many Idahoans who already knew each other, everyone still branched out from their High School friends and chose to make new ones.
The Greek community at the University of Idaho is huge. It is very common for people to decide to join sororities and fraternities on campus to not only expand their social life but to have a support system to help them through college. I strongly recommend joining the Greek community your freshman year, it will help push you to succeed while also giving you friends that will last a lifetime.
The social scene in college is much different than in high school. Even if you went to a high school that had parties involving alcohol frequently, take that and multiply it by ten. There will usually be parties every weekend and also some throughout the week. These parties will also most likely be much larger than any you have been to and also have much more people you’ve never met before.
Anytime you are in a college party atmosphere, there are risks. Luckily for me, I chose a college that is very safe compared to others, but it is still important to keep an eye out for potentially risky situations. Here are some important tips to making your college experience as safe as possible:
- Keep your drink in your hand and covered at all times
- Don’t take an open drink that is offered to you
- Don’t walk home alone
- This is one major perk of Greek life – you always have your sisters to walk you home. Or if you are in a safe fraternity they will almost always have a “Sober Bro” whose job is to walk people home and make sure the party is going smoothly and safely.
- If you get bad vibes from someone, leave immediately and find your friends
- Don’t enter rooms with closed doors
- This could go one of two bad ways – you could walk in on people doing drugs, or walk in on people hooking up. Both are not ideal.
- Stay with your friends / don’t leave your friends when they need you
- It always makes me sad when I see a girl too drunk to stand up making a fool out of herself with none of her friends around to help. Stay with your friends always, and don’t ever leave a friend that has had too much to drink.
- Trust your instinct
- Even if you are far from sober, it is pretty easy to tell when things aren’t safe.
- Don’t go to a date function with someone you aren’t comfortable with
- No matter how much you want to go to a date function, don’t go if you have bad feelings about the person taking you. (This is mainly for Greek life)
- Know your limit
- Don’t be the person that continually gets far too drunk and doesn’t seem to learn their lesson.
- If you have never drank before college, it might take some time to figure out your alcohol tolerance. This is okay, as long as you always have friends around you to make sure you are safe.
If you went through life with your parents guiding you and making sure you make smart decisions, college might be more difficult that you expect. It is important to take the values and lessons your parents taught you and learn to become independent off of them. Many people who grow up in a strict household with go wild with the freedom college gives them, which is one of the worst things that can happen. There is a reason your parents taught you what they did, make sure you use what you have learned from them to make college a successful endeavor. Always remember school comes first, social life comes second.
Dating changes a lot each year you go through college. Freshman year is typically not the time to try to find a boyfriend/girlfriend. It is a fun new experience and having a S.O. will put a damper on all the fun you can have. Also, it is important to learn to realize which people are talking to you because they are genuinely interested in your life, and which are talking to you to try to get you in their bed.
I began dating my current boyfriend at the beginning of my sophomore year and the beginning of his junior year. For him, he had already had the full college experience the past two years and was ready to date, and for me I have always been someone that likes to be in relationships. What made it work so well was that we still made time to have our own social lives. He would still go out to the bars with his friends and I would go out around Greek Row with my friends. It is very important that if you choose to date in college you make sure you still have your own life. If you start a relationship where you only spend time with each other you will end up regretting all the college moments you missed out on.
Now to get into the education aspect of college… The main difference I noticed between high school and college is the work load. While high school will generally have more small assignments, college with have fewer, but larger assignments. I could get away with missing a couple assignments in high school and not lose many points, but in college every assignment is so important and high in points it is crucial to not miss any assignments.
Especially your freshman year, class sizes will be huge. This means it is much easier to get away with texting or playing on your phone during class. Even though the lectures can be boring (and usually are) make sure you put your phone away and pay attention. Even if the professor says notes aren’t necessary, take them anyway. This will help you retain the information and keep you from slacking off.
At the beginning of my Sociology 101 class my professor had us read an article about how using laptops during classes in college can have a huge negative impact on learning. So, unless your class requires using a laptop try to only bring a notepad a paper to take notes on.
Having a good relationship with your professors is super important if you are wanting to succeed. At the beginning of each semester try to introduce yourself to your professors so they can put a face to the name on all the future papers they will grade. I can’t tell you how many times I have had friends whose professors have raised their grades at the end of the semester just because they knew who they were and saw that they have put effort into the class. Your relationship with your professors could be the difference between an A and a B, so make sure its a good one.
Make sure you put studying ahead of everything. Tests and Exams can be much harder in college and require a lot of work to get good grades on. Find what places you study best in, whether it be tucked away in a quite corner of the library or at a busy coffee shop, being in an environment that you work well in is crucial. Also, try out many different ways to study and find which ones work best for you and stick to it.
College has been one of the best experiences of my life so far, and I hope these tips will help any incoming students make the best out of their years in college.