Entering into the first week of your college experience can be daunting. You aren’t just living in a new place, but you’re starting new classes, making new friends, and creating a whole new routine and lifestyle for yourself. Our student office assistants have a few pieces of advice that they used (or wish they used) as they embarked on their college journey.
1. Take things one step at a time
As stated above, you will be transitioning and adjusting to a lot more than just a new place in the fall. Try to break this transition up into smaller pieces. Work on adjusting to your new home in the dorms, first. Get to know your roommate and their interests, as well as your neighbors and hall staff. When classes begin, try to get into a routine, as you will thrive off of one. Socially, friends will come naturally along the way. Put yourself out there, but try to remember that everything will eventually fall into place over time.
I will say, from personal experience, that everything moves very fast during this transition. It feels as if you are thrown into everything at once, and it can be very overwhelming. Recognize and be aware of how you are feeling through all of this, and try to manage it by breaking it down into small pieces.
2. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
Especially because my roommate was also one of my best friends from high school, it was easy for me to want to just spend my time with her at the beginning of the school year. Whether that be hanging out in the room, going to soccer games, going to the gym, or getting dinner, my roommate and I did it all together during the first week of school. That is completely okay, but really try to connect with other people too. Talk to your peers in classes. Get to know your dorm neighbors. Attend your hall retreat. These types of activities and actions will help you build relationships with others. Not all of these people will end up being your best friends, but getting to know others is an important step in the transition into college.
3. At the same time, give yourself the time you need to adjust
It’s okay to feel uneasy about this whole college thing. It’s completely valid and normal, and many more people than you probably think experience it as they enter their first year of college. It’s difficult because it’s being pushed down your throat by just about everyone to get out of your comfort zone which yes, is important, but it’s also critical to take care of yourself and give yourself the time you need to adjust. This time may look different for everyone, and that is okay. When I entered my freshman year, I was so focused and worried about what everyone else was doing that I put a lot of pressure on myself. Looking back at this, that mindset was definitely not healthy and could have been completely avoided if I had just given myself time! It’s hard when you’re so wrapped up in everything that’s going on around you, but do your best to not put so much pressure on yourself to succeed in all areas immediately.
This is one area where I feel like I could’ve drastically improved on if I had the chance to redo my freshman year. I personally was so focused on what other people were doing and comparing where I was at, mentally and emotionally, with where I thought I should be at.
4. Create good study habits immediately
Academics is one area where you should try to create a routine pretty much right at the beginning of the semester. The reason for this is that if you create those good study habits immediately, they will most likely stick for the rest of the semester and future semesters. Get in the habit of staying on top of your work, studying for exams and quizzes early, and carving out time in your day for your academics. If you start off the year by blowing off your school work, it will be hard to catch up and change those habits later on.
I think students can go either way on this front. Some are super excited to start their classes (I know I was 😊) and are eager to begin the studying and learning. Others don’t realize how much work it takes to succeed in college classes, and tend to blow off their studies. Just be aware of where you are on this scale and adjust as needed!
5. Attend activities and functions around campus
There are so many activities put on by clubs and groups at UP even in the first week of school. Attend these! Go to riverboat and the club fair. Go to sporting events. Attend your hall retreat and other hall events that are put on. These are beneficial in a multitude of ways. They help you meet new people, take a break from the stresses of your academics, and to do something fun (and usually free, or very inexpensive!) with other members of the UP community. They are also a great way to meet upperclassmen. I can definitely speak from the perspective of a freshman who joined biology club. With biology being my major, it was super beneficial to meet some upperclassmen through this club that were in the same major as me that I could use as resources and also had some things in common with.
6. Make time for yourself
Throughout the craziness of beginning a new chapter in all of these different aspects of your life, it is important to be introspective and know what you need throughout this time, too. Some people need more self-care time than others. I know I could’ve used much more than I gave myself. So, again, despite what is said above, if you need to skip an event to take some time for yourself, please do so. Stay in and watch a movie, listen to music, or even take a nap! You’ll come to realize that college is all about balance, so finding a healthy in-between for yourself is crucial.
7. Find something fun to do off-campus
While it’s important to involve yourself in on-campus activities, I found it very helpful to get off-campus, too. Of course, it’s important to immerse yourself into the UP community, but there are also a lot of fun things to do right off campus that are easy to access, even without a car. This provided me with even a short amount of time to get away from the stresses of academics and transition, and to just be away for a little while. My friends and I would take the bus occasionally to restaurants or to see a movie. I’ve had a full year now in Portland and I still feel like there’s so much more for me to go out and discover. Take advantage of the neat opportunities in our backyard! Click here to see some of Gaby’s, one of other other student office assistants, favorite places to go in North Portland: https://sites.up.edu/cas/wp-admin/post.php?post=6350&action=edit
8. Utilize your resources
There are so many people on campus who are not only here to help you, but want to help you, too. Utilize your professors, advisors, hall staff, workshop leaders, upperclassmen, and other peers. I can 100% promise you that people are going to want to help you. Whether it be a question in regards to academics or you’re just feeling a bit homesick, these people are here to help.
A final note: College is all about balance. Academics should be your first priority, but maintaining a social life and continuing to do the things you like to do is important. Get out of your comfort zone, but also take time for yourself, too. Balance is the ultimate way to succeed, especially as you begin your freshman year of college.