How to Have the Best Experience on Campus (Freshman Year)
You’ve finished registration. The Getting Started helpers have moved all your boxes into your dorm and you and your parents have unpacked most of them. You’ve met your roommate and maybe a few other hallmates and looked at your schedule for the weekend. Your parents have just driven off and, maybe not for the first time, you wonder: “What now?”
Well-meaning friends and family members have probably been giving you college advice for months now. There are all kinds of books on how to succeed in your time at college, and it can be a lot to take in. You’d need a full notebook for all the different tips people will give you for your college experience.
This post won’t take a notebook. It probably wouldn’t even take a whole page of notes. But here are five simple tips you can keep in mind to help you have your best freshman experience.
- Be Proactive Socially
Especially if you have no past experiences at Cedarville, it can be stressful to go somewhere new and make a different set of friends. It’s one of the most common reasons incoming students are nervous about college. But you’ll have your best possible freshman year if you choose to put yourself out there and meet people, even if you are anxious about it.
In my last post, we talked about ways to combat college anxiety, and one of the most helpful pieces of advice I’ve seen is to remember that everyone else is just as nervous as you! That means pretty much everyone you’ll see would be thrilled to grab lunch with you, sit with you at chapel, or even just have a quick conversation.
As you’re just starting freshman year, there are a lot of opportunities to meet all kinds of new people, and once you do, it will make just about everything more comfortable. It might be hard to strike up a conversation with the person next to you in class, but it will make sitting next to them every morning much more fun. It’s the same way when you get involved in your major or your hall. Breaking through any initial awkwardness might seem daunting, but it is so worth it when it makes the rest of your year more enjoyable!
- Get Involved in Campus Activities
From your very first days on campus onward, Cedarville’s staff and student leadership work hard to help you find ways to get involved! From whole-campus events like the Fall Bible Conference or Alt Nights (special themed nights for students to enjoy on campus) to smaller opportunities like D-Groups or student organizations, there is no shortage of ways to get out there and experience Cedarville.
While you’ll eventually settle into the things you want to do for all four years, don’t be afraid to experiment during your freshman year. Attend a fitness class. Shop around for a D-Group. Show up to an organization meeting for photography or dance or creative writing. There’s no commitment required for most of these activities, so you can just drop in once or twice and see if participating would be fun for you! It might not all be your speed, but no one will be offended if you don’t show up again, so try a wide variety of activities and see what sticks.
- Think Ahead in Your Major (If You Have One)
If you came to college knowing what you want to study, this is an important one. Talk to upperclassmen in your major about opportunities your department offers for its students. Many majors have student organizations, connections with companies that take student interns, or other extracurricular activities. As an English major, my department has many members involved in the yearbook, the Cedarville Review journal, and the Student Life blog (like this!).
Upperclassmen in your major will often have different perspectives from your advisor on what classes to take when and which extracurricular experiences are valuable. It can be helpful to hear from them how to succeed in your department.
If you don’t have a major yet or are thinking about switching, that’s also fine! Your first year is a time for exploration, and you’ll likely take mostly general education classes, so you have time to experience a variety of classes in different departments. Take it at your own pace and apply this tip when you do make your decision.
- Take Good Care of Yourself
Living on your own can be a big adjustment. You’re suddenly choosing for yourself what to eat for every meal and when to eat those meals. Your sleep schedule may change. You have the chance to set new habits and settle on a lifestyle that fits you well.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to take good care of yourself physically. Eat three solid meals a day (not all of them from Chick-fil-A). Get eight hours of sleep whenever you can. Drink water regularly. Get time out in the sunshine. Find a form of exercise you like and do it regularly, whether that looks like biking, going to the gym, playing intramurals, or getting involved in a dance club.
Taking good care of your physical health will make everything else easier. While it may seem counterintuitive to take extra time out of your schedule for sleep once you get busy, prioritize your health. It’ll pay off in your studying and help you be fully present socially as well.
- Give Yourself Grace
As much as we’d all love to have a picture-perfect freshman year (thus why you’re reading this guide in the first place), it’s helpful to realize that it will be a transition process. You might make mistakes along the way, and realizing this beforehand will make adjusting a lot easier. Give yourself time to settle in and forgive yourself for the little blunders that may happen. It can be easy to overthink, but mistakes happen to everyone, so expect that and move on when it does happen.
If you have a hard time with that, think of it like your friend came to you and told you they had done the same thing you’re worrying about. How would you treat them? Likely as not, you’d be gracious and help them through it, not blame them or dwell on it. Treat yourself the same way. You are a child of God, and your worth comes from Him, not from a flawless year academically, socially, or in any other respect. Extend grace to the people around you, but also make sure you’re willing to show that same grace to yourself.
I hope some of these tips help you during your upcoming freshman year! Before you know it, college will seem completely normal, but in the meanwhile, enjoy the newness of it all, explore the opportunities available to you, and make the most of your 1,000 days at Cedarville!
Student Life Blogger
- Majoring in English with a minor in Editing and Publishing
- Hometown: Hubbardston, MA
- Coffee Order: Affogato
- Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Timothy 1:5