“If I Knew Then What I Know Now…” College Lessons Every Rising Freshman Should Know
By Kree Small
Finally, the time has come to transform into a college student. This means dorm shopping, meeting your roommates, and saying goodbye to old friends and traditions. However, the first year of college doesn’t have to be all about adjustments; there are plenty of ways to maintain a balance between figuring out how to live on your own while thriving academically and socially— all with a smooth transition.
Audrey Wilkerson, now a college sophomore at VCU, shares what she’d wish she had known going into college as a first-year student, including what to expect, how to make friends, and how to adjust to a completely new atmosphere.
- Create a schedule…and stick to it.
This is a time when you can create your schedule without having to take into consideration anyone else’s time; it’s strictly up to you. College is all about finding a schedule that’s right for you, and while it may differ from those around you, it’s about what suits you best as an individual. Creating a disciplined schedule and practicing it before arriving to college can assist with the hard adjustment of the classes and times you pick versus the schedules assigned to you throughout grade school.
“I choose a moderate schedule for the benefit of myself,” Audrey says, “but sometimes you have no choice but to let your schedule determine itself. When there are no other options but to take that 8 AM course you need for the semester, you have to make wise choices and follow through with it.”
Pick key aspects of your collegiate experience such as study sessions, meal times, and fitness to structure your schedule around; doing so maximizes productivity while still allowing time for flexibility.
- Don’t forget to network beforehand.
Sometimes, we forget that as human beings, we work best and flourish better in environments we’re more comfortable in. With that said, it’s imperative to meet and connect with your peers prior to arriving on campus.
Before moving in, Audrey attended Acceleration, a college preparatory program at VCU, which allowed her to meet a good number of her peers who are pursuing the same field. Audrey goes on to explain how she even plans to participate in more activities like these throughout all of her summers in college.
- Watch what you eat.
Everybody’s heard about the “Freshman 15,” but it’s not inevitable; this can absolutely be avoided by developing and maintaining healthy eating habits. Since you’re now scheduling things on your own, it’s easy to forget to schedule in time to eat healthy meals.
“I ate badly my freshman year, resulting in headaches and stomachaches. I felt sluggish,” Audrey explains. “I definitely would’ve cut out fast food and used it as an ‘every now and then’ treat for myself as opposed to an everyday thing.”
While moving on to this new, exciting college atmosphere, keep those healthy habits in mind!
- Keep up with your physical health.
Working out and keeping your body fit is just as important as what you put inside your body. It’s important to keep in contact with your doctor and attend your annual check-ups, get your booster shots, test your allergies, and make sure that everything is up-to-date before heading off to school.
“I wasn’t aware of everything that I had to get from the doctor before school started. Once I got there, I learned more about what I needed to get, such as shots, tests, etc.”
If you’re like Audrey and unsure, contact your school and doctor to see what they both suggest.
And last, but certainly not least…
- Become familiar with all campus resources!
Nowadays, thankfully, schools offer countless opportunities for their students to succeed. VCU is one of many schools that help crackdown on students’ personal and developmental needs with resources such as writing centers, campus learning centers, student study groups, and more. It’s essential to find these resources before classes start so they can benefit you more during the semester.
“The resources schools offer help [students] by allowing us to get out more,” shares Audrey. “It’s a networking opportunity—you get to find out who’s good at what, and it helps a lot when you’re new to a place.”
It’s time for you to put these tips into action! Prepare for the good and the bad, meet new people, and excel limitlessly! Are you college-life ready?