10 Truths Nobody Else Tells You About College

Hi, Hello, and Welcome. Are you hooked yet? Great! My name is Sara Becker and I am a second-year college student. This apparently qualifies me to give you, the reader, info on what to look out for when you or (for parents who do excessive amounts of research) your precious baby is becoming a college freshman. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before becoming a freshman. Let’s go for it!

1. One of the biggest learning experience I had my freshman year was how to study. Although it seems like a habit that would be picked up during middle and high school, it is very common for students to get by without it, much like I did. I had to take the time to learn how to study for different types of tests and classes, and a good part of that learning came from trial and error. Looking back, I would have liked to have learned how to study before I had to learn it the hard way.

2. During my last few months of high school I was super excited to move out and be free of my mother’s strict rules at home. In my mind I was absolutely ready to be a responsible adult and live in my own place. Boy was I wrong. I had never before in my life felt homesickness, but this first-time encounter with it was not easy. The day my mom helped me move in, the water works were intense on both parts. Although I seemed to feel ok for the first few weeks, the homesickness really hit hard about halfway through the semester when classes started to get hard and it was midterm season. The best was I learned to deal with it was to call my mom every day after class and tell her how my day was and she would do the same. Fortunately, we lived close enough to each other to visit about once or twice a month, and that was enough to hold me over until the next time I could visit home.

3. Living on your own gets expensive and I learned that very quickly. There never seemed to be enough money to buy all of the books, groceries, everyday essentials, etc. that were needed in order to have a comfortable semester. The next few semesters I prepared myself for the financial burden by saving up a lot of money during the winter break and the summer before the semester started.

4. The freshman 15 is real! Whether you gain the 15 pounds or lose them, it’s a very real issue for incoming freshman. The stress of a completely new life style along with the intensity of school causes students to pay less attention to their food consumption and consequently rapidly gain or lose weight. The best way to avoid this unhealthy weight fluctuation is to come up with a healthy meal plan that is easy to follow when you are short on time or are limited to just, for example, a microwave if you live in a dorm.

5. The next thing to note is that 8 am classes are so much worse than they seem. In high school, classes start around 8 am and it didn’t seem to be very difficult to get out of bed and start your day, but as a freshman in college, it seems to be almost impossible to get up any time earlier than 10 am. Try your hardest to schedule classes later in the morning, or start training yourself to go to bed early because having to wake yourself up at this time is easily one of the biggest things many students have to learn to get used to as freshman in college.

6. Deadlines in college are non-negotiable approximately 95% of the time. Unless you or someone in your family is experiencing some emergency or extenuating circumstance, professors tend to be very firm in their deadlines, and will not accept late work or make up work for partial credit. The best solution is to be ahead of all due dates. For homework assignments, depending on the length, I begin working on them 3 to 7 days before it is due (or a few weeks before if it’s a major project or paper). For tests and midterms, I begin studying 1-2 weeks before the exam date so that I have plenty of time to prepare and go in for office hours or help when I need it.

7. Graduating in four years is not mandatory. Most universities want to push a four-year graduation rate because it gives them better statistics to present to incoming students, but this should not be your mentality when planning your courses. There are several reasons why it may take you more than four years to finish your degree and that’s ok. There are times when things do not go according to plan such as when taking more than 12 hours is too much work, classes you need to take are not offered, there are extra classes you want to take that interest you, or sometimes just life happening, will cause you to take more time to finish your degree.

8. I never thought I would need to learn skills for coping with stress, but three semesters later, I make sure my schedule is planned around my stress relief time. The stress that comes from school and possibly family matters at home has the potential to be very unhealthy, and can lead to things such as weight gain/loss, depression, anxiety, or other serious side effects. The best way to cope with and relieve stress is to plan time into your schedule that is strictly for relaxing or for something you enjoy to do. This can be anything from exercising, to playing sports, reading, or any other hobby that will completely take your mind off of the stressors in your life.

9. Safety is something that schools try to promote extensively because most parents are concerned for the safety of their children, but it’s important to note that everyone is still susceptible to very dangerous situations even when on campus. For example, at my school there was a stabbing right outside of my dorm hall and a student died along with a couple others injured, and this occurred in the middle of the day. Another thing that schools won’t tell you about is the danger inside of the residence halls. During my second semester, someone attempted to break into my dorm room while I was studying inside of it, but luckily, they got scared away when they heard me coming up to the door to see who was there. If you take nothing else away from this article, at least take away the idea that it is important to be vigilant when going about your day. Try to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and avoid walking alone during late hours or in places that do not seem safe to you. Safety should be something you are actively practicing, and not disregarded when you are in school, regardless of the school’s promises of complete safety.

10. Lastly, I wanted to mention that it is important to listen to your body. What I mean by this is that if you don’t feel good, take the time to assess what the problem is and try to make yourself feel better. If you feel sick, go to the doctor, if you feel stressed or depressed, talk to your parents or the counselors/mental health resources on your campus. There are many people that are willing to help you succeed in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom, you just have to look for them!

Having said all of that, there are still several things that you will learn through your unique experiences as a freshman in college. There may be challenges for you to overcome, but hopefully this list makes you feel a fraction better about what you will encounter. Good luck, and enjoy your first year!!