I remember the months leading up to my freshman year of college and thinking to myself that it was probably going to be one of the most pivotal years of my life. For a lot of us, it was the year that we would truly get a feel for what it would be like to be on our own, without our parents there to guide and make decisions for us along the way. It was the year that we would learn a lot more about ourselves, our interests, and what we wanted to do with our lives. If you’re a current senior in high school, you’ve probably been thinking a lot about what your freshman year of college will be like.
I’ve often heard people refer to the first year of college as the “Make-it or Break-it Year.” Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? But now that I’ve made it through my freshman year and am halfway through my sophomore year, I want to offer you some advice that has greatly impacted my first year experience, and can help impact yours as well.
Here are seven tips for navigating your freshman year of college.
You’ve probably heard this one a lot, but for good reason. As an introvert, the last thing I wanted to do was put myself out there and get involved in campus events and activities. But your college experience is what you make it, and getting involved is a great way to meet new people, improve your time management skills, find things you’re passionate about, and can even provide you with opportunities to get a break from schoolwork and alleviate stress.
During my freshman year, I got involved with the serve team for morning chapel services. It gave me a greater appreciation of our staff as I got to witness the amount of hard work that goes into putting these services together, and also gave me the opportunity to meet new people and find community. You can find ways to get involved at SEU here.
Manage Your Time Wisely
While getting involved as much as you can is great, it is also important that you know what your priorities are, especially when it comes to academics. One of the most important reasons you’re here is to earn a degree, so make sure you’re staying on top of things and not waiting till the last possible minute to get started on something. This will save you lots of time and stress, and you’ll thank yourself later.
This is definitely still a work in progress for me, but fortunately our Academic Center for Enrichment (ACE) here at SEU offers students class subject workshops where you can learn topics such as time management and study skills!
It’s Okay to Say “No” Sometimes
This is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. Sometimes you’ll feel pressured to say yes to every coffee date, every hangout, and every movie night, but be sure to take some time alone and recharge from the daily demands of being a college student. Going from class to class, meeting to meeting, and hangout to hangout can be really hard when you’re on the brink of burnout because you never took the time to rest. So, take a few nights a month to spend time alone. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Ask For Help When You Need It
No one has it all together. College is full of ups and downs, and there will be moments when you feel like you’re struggling to figure it all out. But the great thing is that we’re all in this together, and there is a community of people at SEU ready to lend you a shoulder to lean on when you need it. Don’t hesitate to reach out to family, friends, or even trusted faculty and staff. SEU also provides amazing support through our Student Outreach and Support team, and various Health and Wellness services, including on-site or virtual counseling.
Embrace New Friendships
Meeting new people can often be scary, but the friends you make in college can impact the way you experience your time here, and even develop friendships that can last a lifetime. SEU is full of people who will support you, motivate you, inspire you, and help you to grow.
During my first few weeks at SEU, I pushed myself to be intentional about meeting with people who I’ve briefly spoken with over social media before coming to SEU, and now they are some of my closest friends, my roommates, and the people I get to do life with. I can’t imagine what my college experience would be like without them!
Enjoy Every Moment
Your time in college really does fly by, so enjoy it. You’ll never get these years back, so take advantage of every opportunity offered to you. Don’t be afraid to take on a new challenge. And make memories you’ll never forget. Before you know it, you’ll be walking across the stage to receive your diploma, and you’ll look back on all of the great times you’ve had.
Make Time for God
With classes, homework, friends, and extracurricular activities, it can be easy to start neglecting your time with God. Jesus tells us in John 15: 5–6 that He is the vine and we are the branches, and apart from Him we can do nothing. In the midst of uncertainty and change, God is the one constant in our lives. He is our firm foundation and keeps us steady on our feet. We must rely on Him for strength during such an important time in our lives.
There are so many ways to grow spiritually during your time at SEU, so be sure to take the time to put what you’re learning into practice. Making time for Him can look like getting up an hour earlier every morning, or staying up for a few more minutes after a long day, to devote time to prayer. It might even look like doing a devotional in between classes. I personally like to get up at least an hour earlier than I need to. There’s just something about the quiet and stillness of the early morning hours, and spending time with Him in scripture, prayer, or worship really helps me to start my day on the right foot. Whatever it looks like for you, make time for the One who holds you in the palms of His hands.
I hope that you find these tips helpful, and pray that your freshman year is everything you want it to be and more!
By Mia Golding, Student Writer