What I Learned During My First Semester of College


There are many new experiences that come with beginning college. Some that are life changing, others, not so much.

This first semester taught me a lot about myself, what I wanted out of my life, and many other lessons.

Stand Up

Going to college means you have to be an adult *insert fetal position and scream here*. Becoming an adult is probably the scariest thing. You feel as if your childhood is out the window and that you are all by yourself. At first I felt like that, but then I realized I was the furthest thing from it. I came to college with a really good friend who I would consider one of my best friends now. My suite-mates also became large influences in my life. They have the same morals and values that I do and it made it easier to make the transition from high school to college nicer. I have never liked the idea of underage drinking. My suite-mates agreed with those values and it made this semester so much more enjoyable.

By standing up for what I believed in, I found a lot more people who were on my side than those who were not. I found friends who had the same similar interests that I did and this was just by standing up for my views! You do not need to conform to the college stereotypes at all. Be yourself and if that self does not like to do something, do not feel pressured. Who seriously cares? Be happy with yourself, others will too!

High School Did NOT Prepare Me

I know that statement sounds somewhat aggressive, but it truly is not. I was able to get through high school pretty well. I was a good student and studied, but studying in high school is completely different from studying in college. For example, reviewing your notes once or twice is sufficient studying in high school. In college you need to make flash cards of some sort, have study groups, read and highlight your textbooks, go to all of your classes, talk to you professors during their office hours, maybe cry a little because of the stress, then review again! ***side note… not all studying is THAT stressful, find what works for you!***

The first few weeks of college were the most stressful of my life so far. There I was with a professor who talked a mile a minute trying to scramble my notes down in my college ruled notebook because you know, college… I was scared out of my mind. All I could think about was, “How on Earth am I going to do this for the next four years?”. I learned that no amount of honors/AP/college credit classes could have prepared me for this jumble of words, notes, and PowerPoint slides that were being thrown my way all at once. Adjusting to this style of note taking was not as bad as I had expected it would be. It was a gradual change I never noticed, but looking back I tell.

On a slightly funny note, one way high school did not prepare me IN THE SLIGHTEST was the fact that college campuses are not enclosed little havens. No, you have to walk outside every few hours. No amount of Rain/wind/sleet/snow will stop your voyage to your class. High school students have it sooo easy! You walk inside and do not have to leave for six hours. Good luck with that in college!

The Library WILL Be Your Bestie

Sorry childhood BFFL you have been replaced with the library. Unfortunately, it took me awhile to figure out that I should go to the library. I thought studying in my room was perfectly fine until I realized the mass amount of distractions that were in there were not benefiting my studies. One day I decided to try something new and went to study in the library. I found a study room and put headphones in and turned my ‘Classical for Studying’ station on (Pandora). I was so productive! I wrote a speech, made a study guide that was 8 pages singe spaced and typed, did all my math homework for the entire week, and worked on a project. Without having so many things to distract me from what I was at school for, I was able to get everything I needed completed in a timely manner.

The library is also nice when you want to escape from loud people. Dorms can be very noisy and obnoxious at points and libraries give you a nice little place to go and relax without having to worry about excessive noise. I highly recommend it.

Time Management and Organization is Key

I will be the first to admit that time management is one of my huge flaws, but I have become immensely better at it since I went away to school. You really need to know how to manage your time well when you go to school. Between classes, extra curricular activities, and you personal life, time management skills come in handy. It is something that I believe cannot be taught to you, it is something that needs to be experienced. You do not understand how time management works until you have a place to use it.

Now, organization, I wrote a piece about this before school started about how I was keeping myself organized. You can read it HERE. In this I discussed many ways to keep your self organized in your new college life. I bought a dry erase board calendar and it was probably one of the best purchases I made for my room! It made it easy for me to see what was going on for the upcoming week in a single glance. I color coded it so all my tests, sorority activities, homework, and meetings were all different colors and it really helped keep me on top of all my commitments!

You Don’t Need Everything

Before school started I also wrote a piece about college shopping and everything you needed. Now, I am going back on a few items that did not work out for me. Maybe they will for you! Don’t let that discourage you! You can read that HERE.

The items I’m going back on include:

  1. Handheld mirror
  2. Pizza cutter
  3. Can opener
  4. E-Reader
  5. TV

These did not come in handy for me. I am not sure why I bought a handheld mirror. A pizza cutter and can opener were useless for me because I had a meal plan. I did not have time to read because of my studies. I watch all the shows I enjoy on the internet.

These are all useful, they just were not for me!

There are Things You WILL Need

Here are the random things you would have never thought you needed at school

  1. Highlighters
  2. Tool Kit
  3. Sports Equipment

The kind of highlighters I found that I like are Bible highlighters. They don’t bleed through your textbook pages and work so well! A tool kit comes so in handy! I cannot explain how many times I put mine to use this semesters. Sports equipment is great to have with you. I play tennis and took my racquet. BEST IDEA EVER. There was a girl who lived one room down from me who played also so we got together a few times and took study breaks to go play. My other friend from high school also plays and so we would go play for a while as well!

Fitness is Hard, but Worth It

Trying to fit in a workout is rough while in college. It worked out for me until mid-terms hit and all of a sudden I had no more time for even an hour workout. I wished I had been able to find more time and next semester I am going to make it my goal to do so. When a college gives you free access to a full gym, it is kind of silly to not use it to your full benefit. However, if you are totally, 100% busy, then it is a little more acceptable. I recommend using those great time management skills you will get in school to figure out the appropriate amount of time to spend there!

I think what made it more difficult for me was that I got burned out on working out. I went every day for about an hour for nearly a month and a half and then I decided to skip one day and never went back. It is really tough to try to convince yourself that what you are doing is so worth it and will benefit you in so many ways.

I had a nice discussion with my cousin about all of this and she came up with a nice solution, what I should have done is try to get the gym three to four times a week. My method of forcing myself to go everyday and feeling guilty if I did not go was a bad way to go about it. Her method is what I will be aiming for next semester.

In addition to fitness is the food choices. College’s just love to fatten you up! We all know about the Freshman 15. Well no wonder it happens! With the amount of awful food options there is and the stress college students face, it is no wonder we gain so much weight! College students today have more stress than at any other point in history. Pleasing family, impressing our future bosses with out impeccable GPA’s, and being naturally high achieving, it is no wonder that maintaining a stable weight during college is difficult for some. The pressure to be perfect in our ultra-perfectionist society is a contributing factor in what destroys one’s weight.  I know I have been more stressed this semester than I have been in a while. I know I did not always make the best food choices, but is that necessarily entirely my fault?

What out school’s need is better options for meals. Wilted lettuce, high sodium foods, and oil sodden foods are not going to be able to help prevent the Freshman 15. At least with better food options, what we eat can be put on the back burner for our weight gain.

Now stress, what I learned about stress this semester was ways to control it. Professor’s want their class to be your only focus (or that is how it feels sometimes).

Ways I found to aid in my stress relief were:

  1. Naps-a classic way to just get away from it all.
  2. A few deep breaths-Really. The extra oxygen to your brain relieves you bit!
  3. Exercise Get those endorphins pumping throughout your body!
  4. Stretches relieve tension
  5. Laugh- When I stressed I get on Pinterest and go to the humor section for a little bit and then I feel so much better!

I had so many great experiences this first semester! There is a huge benefit in going away from school! You learn how to care more for yourself, learn what you like and dislike, and find out your parents are right on way more than you will ever admit!

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go away for school and am able to go the college I am at.

Hopefully you found benefit to this post!

What did you learn during your first semester of college?

Let me know!


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