Your first college semester can set the tone for your entire year, and maybe even your college experience. During your first semester, you create first impressions of your campus, professors, and peers. These impressions can stick with you until you graduate, so you want to make sure that they are the best they can possibly be! Here are ten tips to make your first semester great:
1. Go to all of your classes. This is probably the first time in your life that you can skip class "without consequences." Resist the allure of rolling back over when your alarm goes off for that pesky 8:30am section because I promise, there will be consequences. You are in class significantly less in college than you were in high school which means that every hour matters. You never know when there will be a pop quiz that you'll have to take a zero on because you overslept. Be strong. Go to class (unless of course you are sick).
2. Sit with new people in the dining hall...eat in the dining hall. No matter how awful the food may be, your campus dining hall is a great place to meet new people, especially during your first few weeks of school. Whether you know no one at your new school or it feels like your entire high school class went to the same university, make an effort to sit with new people. You never know when you could bond with your future best friend over under cooked chicken.
3. Get involved with some clubs. Don't overwhelm yourself with extracurricular activities in your first semester of college, but make an effort to join at least one student organization. Student groups are a great way to meet new people, especially those who share your interests. They can provide a sense of community and belonging on an unfamiliar campus.
4. Attend social events. It can be easy to just hole up with a bag of Doritos and your favorite Netflix series to binge. Make an effort to go out every once in a while to feel a sense of community and connect with new people. Go to a party, attend a sporting event, or gather some people to go to a local concert.
5. Get to know your professors. My professors were the highlight of my first semester. Introduce yourself to your professors in your first week of classes. Attend office hours for classes in which you are interested. Building relationships with professors will help you to not only understand and enjoy the material, but also to get to know someone at the top of your desired field. These relationships are extremely rewarding, and extremely useful when you need a letter of recommendation for graduate school or internships.
6. Try new things. Your first semester of school is a great time to step outside your comfort zone. Do you have a secret love for ultimate Frisbee? Find an intramural team! Are you passionate about singing? Join an a capella group! College is the perfect time to explore your interests. Trying something new can lead you to something you will pursue for the rest of your life.
7. Focus on doing your best, not someone else's. Everyone becomes a small fish in a big pond in college. It can be so easy to compare yourself to others and begin to experience self-doubt, wondering if your accomplishments are good enough. This mentality will only paralyze you and prevent you from reaching your fullest potential. Focus on doing your best, and being the best version of yourself, instead of comparing yourself to other people.
8. Spend time outside. College dorms can be pretty dreary (no matter how Pinterest-worthy). Be sure to get some fresh air for at least half an hour every day. Being outdoors can help you feel less cooped up, and it can help you escape the stresses of your dorm room (i.e. that pile of unfinished problem sets due tomorrow).
9. Explore your area. Whether you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere or you're living in the heart of an urban area, use your first semester to explore your college town. Scope out the best local restaurants, find the best shopping in your area, and explore some historical landmarks. Better yet, do it all with a new college friend!
10. Make self-care a priority. One of my best freshman year memories was spending an afternoon at the spa, followed by a five course Italian meal with one of my good friends after one of the most stressful weeks of my life. I'm not saying you have to go all out on spa treatments and fancy food every time you feel stressed, but make self care a priority. Exercise every day. Take walks. Extend your shower by a few minutes once a week (the Earth will forgive you). Take care of your mind and body. As important as school may be, your personal health is much more permanent.