Cultural Experience | United States

What I Learned in My First Semester of College

College is a time of growth. It’s a place for us to learn more about ourselves as we venture out into the world of adulthood. But college can also be a rude awakening for many. Behind all the glitz and glamour are high expenses, stress levels, and convenience store calories.

Here are ten things I have learned from my first semester away at college.

1. Take Advantage of Your College’s Resources: This is a biggie. Although you may be dazzled by a new environment, the students, and how peppy the tour guides seem to be, don’t be fooled. A college is still a business, and every little bit will burn a hole in your pocket. It’s important to take advantage of all your college has to offer in the next two to four years. Get that free t-shirt, use the gym, and get your money’s worth!

2. Exam Week is How You Make it: You have probably heard time and time again about how dreadful exam week can be, but it is not as bad as many make it out to be. Obviously, no one enjoys taking long exams, but how you prepare yourself is the key. Don’t stress yourself out! Work off some steam in the gym, meditate, or listen to music. Don’t make yourself sick over exams.

3. The Cafeteria Food Will Only Taste Amazing For the First Week: When I first started living on campus, I was most excited for one thing and one thing only: the food. Little did I know how mediocre is actually is. From all the excitement of officially being an undergraduate, everything about my college shined like a diamond. Now I would rather buy my own groceries and prepare my own food.

4. Enjoy Your Gen Eds While They Last: As you start getting into the classes for your major, it doesn’t get any easier. You’ll be challenged and may have to work harder. My advice? Do the best you can in your General Education courses. They will boost your GPA and prepare you for the higher level classes.

5. Talk to Your Advisor About Employment or Internship Opportunities Right Away: This has definitely served as a benefit for me. Chatting with my college Dean has gotten me a job interview, a list of internship opportunities, and study resources to turn to. Don’t be intimated by your advisor! They are here to help and will be your guide through college. Plus, they definitely know about more opportunities than you do.

6. Never Purchase Your Textbooks From the Campus Bookstore: Trust me, any textbook sold from your campus bookstore will be overpriced. And I am pretty sure spending $300 on a brand new textbook makes you sick to your stomach. Try looking online for used textbooks or to even rent them. This is an extremely easy process and your wallet will thank you.

7. Enjoy the Clubs and Other Activities: Participating in clubs are an easy way to meet people and make new friends. Plus, there may even be free gear involved. If you can’t find a club that fits your needs, try to make your own!

8. You Can Say “No” to Partying: I know, everyone is partying 24/7 and you may feel tempted to join when you know you have a test first thing in the morning. The music, the people, the frat boys — It’s all so exciting! However, you can most definitely say “no.” Do not feel pressured to stick to just partying and never focus on your studies. After all, you are definitely paying for those classes. Be strict with yourself.

9. Makeup is Not Necessary: During my senior year of high school, I imagined having a whole new professional attire for college. Dressing up every day, impressing my professors, and showing everyone what a true undergraduate looks like…man was I wrong. I most definitely do not wear makeup on a day-to-day basis and will continue to not wear makeup unless necessary. No one cares if you caked on foundation to take an exam. No one.

10. Friends Will Come and Go…And That’s Okay: College is such a big place full of many different and exciting things, including people. Understand that your social circle may very well change, and people that you were friends with in high school may not be your bffs in college. With new friends comes new experiences!

Sabrina Hall

Old Dominon University | 2 stories

Sabrina is an Information Systems and Technology major at Old Dominion University. She enjoys volunteering in her community and promoting ethical living. When she's not scrolling through vegetarian recipes on Pinterest or studying for her classes, you can bet she's either watching George Lopez reruns, making green smoothies, or out salsa dancing with the girls.

One response to “What I Learned in My First Semester of College”

  1. Christopher Joseph says:

    Oh my god thank you sooooo much *British accent* for the insight. I’m a high school senior just about to make the transition into the college life and reading this definitely eased my mind.

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