• Nineteen Magazine

10 Things College Freshmen Need To Know

This guest post was written by Rochelle Wright of the blog, Beaucraft.

things college freshmen need to know

Going to college is painted in such a great light, it’s an exciting accomplishment and a great opportunity for a lot of people. Leaving your parents’ home (yay), having to decorate a new dorm, meet new people, and getting to experience new things- it all sounds so fun and exciting. It’s also about developing a sense of independence, figuring out what you like and who you want to become. It feels like there’s a whole new world out there that you’re so eager to explore. That is in fact very much true, college is a whole new world and you’re more than likely to experience culture shock.

I was one of the first people to actually go to college from my family and so I didn’t really have anyone to kind of tell me much about it or what to expect that was in my age group. I like the idea of going into everything fully prepared, so this was a new experience for me. I’m 2 years in and I definitely have a lot of insights, hacks and, just things I think every college newbie should know or expect.

I’m going to give you guys 10 things I think every freshman should know before starting college, some of my college experiences and, how I dealt with a lot of situations you’ll probably experience too. It’ll help you to be more prepared, know what to expect which won’t make everything so much of a culture shock to you. Also. You’ll be steps ahead of other college newbies 😊

You Need To Be Organized and Manage Time Wisely

things college freshmen need to know

College may seem easy because of how social media paints that perfect and easy-going picture but listen to me. 

Its. All. A. Lie.

You’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of work required for each class, the amount of group work and assignments, the short time you’ll be given to complete these assignments as well as staying on top of your actual class content. Honestly, you can easily become burned out but don’t get complacent, you have to be constantly on top of things or else you’ll get lost in it all. And college isn’t like high school where your teachers are behind you, motivating you or willing to give you extra time to complete assignments-a lot of these professors and lecturers really don’t care. And it may sound harsh but its true guys. So, you gotta really put your back in it; use calendars, sticky notes, planners, reminders, highlighters. Go allll in. A great way in which I stay organized is by color coding and segmentation. Every course has a specific color for notebooks, highlighter, folders, and sticky notes! I’m more of a hard copy person so I need to have hard copies where I can physically write on, It just makes things more effective for me. But it's important that you find whatever works for you and stay organized or you’ll easily get left behind.

Textbooks Are Not Cheap

things college freshmen need to know

I think this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most of you but the price of college textbooks are just a plain heart attack. It’s especially expensive depending on the faculty or field of study you’re in for example engineering, science and technology and medical sciences. So I’m a Medical Science student and when I saw the first list I got for books, I was really blown away, I was so worried about how I would get through all these classes because I knew I just couldn’t afford everything. But let me tell you, I’m going into my third year and I’ve never bought a textbook since I started uni. My entire year group has always been generous enough to circulated e-versions of those same textbooks, there is some really good textbooks you can find on google as well as the library. Let the library become your BFF! Most if not all of these books are in the library free of cost available to you 24/7, take advantage of that. Also, apply for book vouchers and other resources similar to that. I’m going to list below where you can get some free pdf versions of textbooks. You’re welcome ❤






Only The Strong Will Survive

things college freshmen need to know

I don’t want to scare you guys too much but…. You know those adventurous movies/series where there’s a group of people that find themselves on a strange and deserted island and only the ones that are smart and stick together eventually survive? 

Yeah, that’s basically what college is. Now, according to College Atlas, 30 % of college freshmen will drop out after their first year of college and less than 2/3 of the 70% of Americans who actually pursue a 4 years degree will graduate. When I was researching for this post and saw this statistic, I was so surprised. This really goes to show that a lot of persons who start will in fact not graduate. And guys, I’m from Jamaica and that same statistic is true here, a lot of persons who were in my first year didn’t make it to the second year and a lot of my friends in other faculties dropped out as well. And this doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing, maybe you’ll start to realize that, hey maybe college really isn’t for me, maybe accounting isn’t for me, maybe engineering isn’t for me- its an opportunity for self-reflection and realization. It doesn’t need to be looked at as a failure, there are tons and tons of persons who are college dropouts or who didn’t graduate and are very well off or have found their purpose in life. Y’all, Bill Gates, I don’t think I need to even say anything else. 😂

The advance of technology and social media has also created so many opportunities for young adults and even older folks, I say all this to encourage and motivate you. But however, if you know that college is probably your only way out and you are determined to finish that degree as I’m sure a lot of you are then yessss to you ! Work hard, stay focus, I believe in every single one of you.

You'll Probably Fail A Few Courses In Your First Semester

Your first semester is really about becoming familiar with college culture, getting familiar with your campus, becoming organized, and learning how to manage your time. Your grades might not be the best. This will probably be your worst semester as far as GPA goes and you might even fail one or two classes, but don’t be too hard on yourself. I too struggled a lot in my first semester and barely passed a lot of my classes. It’s always in your best interest to familiarize yourself with your professors, talk to those in your classes, and find out ways you can gain extra credit.

You'll Be Super Duper Busy

things college freshmen need to know

In your first semester, you’ll most likely take about 7-8 classes which might really not seem like a lot, because when you were in high school you did around the same amount. So, you’re probably thinking, that doesn’t sound too bad right?

 More lies. I’m sorry y’all ☹. But the content, individual coursework + group work for each course is soooo much and it takes so much time to get it all done. You have to do this outside of your class time which takes up most of your day so you’ll pretty much be booked out. It’s going to be hard to find time for yourself and your loved ones. This is why it’s very important to stay organized and plan things ahead, I’m very big on plans. Write down everything you have scheduled to do for the day and how much time you think it’ll take and then see what time you have free and take that to do what you actually want to do. A great way to do this is to get a planner. One that I used in my first year in called Time Planner- Schedule, To-Do List, Time- Tracker, I liked it because it was detailed and it came with so many features that helped me to become more efficient and productive. I'll drop some pictures below so you can see what it looks like. Also, Google and Microsoft planner works well too. I stopped using apps and digital planner because I’m more of a hard copy person and it just works better for me so I started physically making my own copies. Find what works best for you.

things college freshman need to know
things college freshman need to know

You'll Have A Lot Of Expenses

things college freshmen need to know

Aside from the fact that college in itself is extremely expensive, there’s a lot of other additional expenses like staples and stationery supplies, books, housing, transportation, clothing, food, and other course supplies that you actually need. Because of this, saving and finding ways you can make money is very important. 

Don’t get caught up in the college lifestyle or be pressured into feeling like you need to “keep up”, that’s really not important- the only thing you need to keep up with is your degree. The major ways I make money while in college is meal prep, I bring my own water +water bottle, I take advantage of all the financial opportunities given on campus and I just don’t spend on anything I won't need or use in the next 3-5 months. Also, I’m a “baddie on a budgie”, most of my clothing comes from SHEIN and Romwe. There’s a detailed post on this blog that tell you exactly how you can not only save money in college but make money right here.

You Need To Learn Self-Care

things college freshmen need to know

College is freaking stressful, period. It literally affects your mental and physical health. A quick short story into my first year: the whole experience was just so new to me, I didn’t really know anyone, my friends were all in different faculties, group works were stressing me out and I just have really bad anxiety. It was coming up to my finals and I was not prepared at all, I was still doing presentations and completing my group works, I was super stressed out and wasn’t eating enough- I was just a hot mess. And then the week leading to my first exams, I suddenly got a really bad stomach bug- I had diarrhea for 2 whoollleee weeks guys. Which means I had to do my exams while having diarrhea and I can laugh about it now but at the time, there was NOTHING funny about it. My doctor said I needed to take some time off, my pressure was high and I was too stressed but I really couldn’t afford time off, so I pulled through like the trooper I am. I say all this to say, do not neglect yourself, do not neglect your mental health, make time for yourself, and practice self-care. Again, that’s why you need to plan things and be organized so you can see where you have free time and decide how you can spend it. I know it might seem hard because you think you’ll probably be too busy, but you need to spend time and rejuvenate your body. Here’s a detailed post about ways you can practice self-care if you are extremely busy.

Your First Year Will Be Your Hardest

Because this experience is so new and foreign to you, your first year will probably be your hardest year. As you progress, you’ll get better at managing your schedule and time, planning ahead and staying organized, networking, and studying for better grades. It’s only natural for you to get better at something with time and consistency. Some pieces of advice that I can give to help make your first year a little easier is; do your assignments, I know a lot of persons aren’t really big assignment doers but it does help to reemphasize what was taught. A lot of what you will retain depends on what you do outside of your class time. I would also say go to as many classes as you can, pay attention, take good notes, choose your class buddies wisely, get to know your professors more, network, and just try to retain as much material as you can in class.

Group Work Sucks

things college freshmen need to know

I think college would be so much more of a smoother and enjoyable experience if they just removed the group works. Say aye if you agree. It's having to work with someone who has no interest in contributing, dealing with different personality clashes, dealing with different opinions and critiques, and just people who are plain lazy. But you still have to do it, it's your grade, it's your degree and it’s your money. Don’t get into the habit of doing someone’s work for them because that’s just not how the world works so don’t give anyone a free pass. A lot of schools do evaluation sheets where you can actually say how much each member contributed which affects their grade. It does however teaches you how to handle conflict, how to handle different personalities, and work towards an overall goal. I’ve actually had some pretty cool group members who were super helpful and cooperative that then later led to a friendship, so I would say just go in with an open mind.

It's Easy To Get Caught Up In The College Lifestyle

The final point I want to mention is just to stay focused because it’s very easy to get caught in the college lifestyle. There’s going to be a lot of parties, events, and socials but you definitely shouldn’t attend ALL. Don’t go broke trying to keep up with the latest trends because that’s just what they are, trends and all trends eventually die down. It’s definitely good to get involved, meet new people, and enjoy yourself but just be mindful of the reason you started college, to begin with. Join great clubs, explore your campus, build networks, eat healthy food, and get enough sleep :).

Author Bio

Rochelle is a 21-year-old Nursing student from Jamaica. She runs a personal development blog part-time and enjoys binge-watching Netflix and eating way too much ice cream. If you want to know more, visit her blog at Beaucraft.co or connect with her through social media on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook. She hopes you enjoyed this guest post and wishes you all the very best!

#college #collegeadvice #collegetips