college
College,  Lifestyle

My First Year of College In Review

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A year ago I was preparing to embark on my journey to college. I was making lists of what I needed to buy. Writing down goals I wanted to accomplish and things I wanted to do. But mostly, I was anxiously awaiting the day I got to experience my first day as a college student. Going to college for the first time is truly one of the most exciting moments in your life. But it is also one of the most nerve-wracking.

You don’t really know what to expect or who you’ll encounter. It’s a blank slate full of mysteries and aspirations. And similar to many people on this path, I was completely and utterly lost.

I didn’t know who to turn to for help in anything because no one I knew personally had any insight. I got most of my information on Pinterest and Youtube. But even then, I didn’t get the full story. Which is why I decided to write this review.

I know that during my preparation period, I would’ve wanted someone to guide me and let me know some things so I wouldn’t be completely lost.

If I’d known the things that I know now, a lot would’ve been completely different. Therefore, without further ado, let’s begin.

The Myths About College

Firsts things first, we need to discuss everything you already know about college (and everything that I initially believed).

In high school, we hear so many stories from teachers trying to scare us into putting in extra work. They tell us that Professors are not going to help you or that they’ll never push back assignments. Some say that the professor never gives out extra credit or that they don’t care about their students. I’ve even had teachers tell me that I will never have a multiple choice exam or a single ounce of free time in college.

Academically, I believed that there was no possible way to excel in college because everyone always said that achieving even a 2.5 was difficult.

I also was told that if you went to college with friends or tried to keep in touch with childhood friends, it wouldn’t work out. You were bound to lose everyone you already knew.

Well sorry to burst their bubbles, but this is all LIES.

Now let me clarify.

The truth

Yes in college you’re supposed to be responsible with your work (but that’s literally everywhere you go) and yes you’re supposed to follow your syllabus and not depend on professors as much. BUT, and listen carefully, Professors are humans too and they’ve been through everything you’re going to go through in college.

The majority of professors care more about their students than the assignments. If you speak to them, they will help you and will most likely push back an assignment if you really need it. Many professors offer extra credit to boost your grade. Not every test is going to be just written responses. And not every second of your life is going to be spent inside the pages of a book.

During my first couple of months as a freshman in college, I was so scared of my professors because of everything my high school teachers would tell me. Only to find out that college professors are literally the coolest people you will meet (not all, but most). They are honestly super chill and not as cut-throat as they’re made out to be.

In terms of friends, not all friendships die out. Oftentimes, you end up stronger than ever.

And excelling in college is possible as long as you put in the work.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets discuss what really happened my first year of college.

The Dorm

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In all honesty, I expected dorming to be like boot camp or something. I thought that there would be a sheriff to blow a horn at 6 am and everyone would need to line up and get checked.

Okay, not really, but I did expect dorming to be difficult and weird. In my dorm suite, I lived with four other girls, all different backgrounds and stories.

I pretty much stayed in my room the whole time because:
1) I like being alone in my room; &
2) everything I needed was already in my room.

But many people I knew in college were never in their room. They would be in student lounges, the library, or the student center. Most people in college just use their rooms to sleep. But, if you’re like me, your room is your sanctuary.

I highly suggest that everyone tries dorming at least for a semester. There is nothing like dorming in college. You get to meet many people and your life is a hundred times easier. There’s no commuting hassle and its easier to attend events and be in clubs.

Now I’m not saying that people that commute don’t enjoy college, because they do. But, dorming is a completely different experience. You get to live with the people in your classes and get to know them on a much deeper level than showing up to class and leaving right after.

You’re independent and get to experience this amazing chapter in your life on your own.

You learn so much about yourself and others by being on your own.

You develop new hobbies, interest, and diversify your thinking by being exposed to all the different people around you.

However, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows.

The Negatives

Dorming does come with its downsides. Most of them being getting along with those you live with. It’s not always easy sharing a room with people or sharing a suite with people. You’re bound to clash heads even if you’re the best of friends.

You also see the same people EVERY SINGLE DAY. Which not only gets repetitive but annoying.

Laundry rooms are tragic because the machines are always full and there are impatient people in the world that will literally take your clothes out without permission.

Obnoxiously loud people will keep you up at odd hours of the night with their partying or fights.

And lastly, you’ll encounter people who simply don’t know how to live away from home.

The Food

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This is quite possibly one of the worst parts about college. If I’m being honest with you, the food is good in the first week. After that, it’s completely repetitive, expensive, and greasy.

In my school, everyone was super excited about the food in their first semester. Eating at least 4 times a day, buying all the junk in the world, not caring about how much their spending or eating. But then the second semester rolled around and people still had over $1000 on their meal plan by the end because they refused to eat in the cafeteria.

I realized that in my first semester I would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the cafeteria. I’d buy chips and cereal and most times I always got the same food. I spent about $600 on food in my first month. And tragically, gained the freshman 15.

My second semester of college was completely different though. I probably ate about once a day in the cafeteria because the food ended up being gross to me. My meals consisted of a smoothie, salad, fruit, or a deli sandwich, and occasionally some sushi.

In college, I also spent a lot of money on Dominos and McDonalds. I probably ordered Dominos at least 6 times a month and Mcdonalds at least 12 (DO NOT do this!). So when it comes to food, there’s really no diversity.

The Freshman 15

You’ve probably heard a lot of people mention the freshman 15, but probably know nothing about it (I know I didn’t). The freshman 15 refers to when freshman consume so much food from the cafeteria or order so much that they gain 15 pounds. And unfortunately, this happened to me.

A lot of college students do end up gaining the freshman 15, however, there were many students who actually didn’t and ended up losing 15 pounds instead.

It all depends on what you eat and how much. So, don’t be discouraged or scared of the freshman 15. If it happens then it happens and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t.

But, if you want to try to avoid it, I suggest only eating when you’re hungry and choosing healthier options as opposed to a burger with fries every day.

Making Friends

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Making friends in college is super easy. You simply have to walk up to people and just start talking. That’s exactly how I made my first friend in college. Technically my first friends were my roommates but apart from them, my first real friend was someone I met in a lounge.

It was late at night on move-in day and I saw this kid just sitting by himself in the lounge as I was walking in the hall talking on the phone. I paced back and forth in that hall for about an hour and he was still sitting there on his own. When I was done with my phone call I walked past the lounge and saw my suitemate speaking to him. So, I decided to walk in and join. That first night we stayed up until about 4 am talking to each other and it became a tradition every night for about a week. Afterward, we all just met up in my dorm and played card games, watched movies, and told stories.

See how easy that was? All I did was approach him and say hi. Now, I’m not saying that I was extremely popular in college because I wasn’t (as I said, I was always in my room), but it wasn’t hard to make friends either.

The more I approached people and kept in contact with people my friends introduced me to, the more people I knew. Even a simple hi while walking past people is enough to blossom a friendship.

You have to remember that everyone is in the same boat as you. They’re just as scared as you. You just have to be brave enough to say hello.

Time

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It is completely ridiculous just how much time you actually have in college (especially when you dorm).

When your not in class, hanging out with friends, or doing homework, you end up realizing just how much free time you have.

This is mostly due to the fact that in college you don’t have 6-8 hour days in class. You might only have one class a day or two. And then what? Do you just do homework all day? Watch Netflix?

I probably watched about 6,000 hours of Youtube and Netflix throughout my entire freshman year. That’s how much time I had.

There were days where I literally just laid on my bed staring at the ceiling because I had nothing better to do.

But having so much time on your hands without an effective plan of how to spend it can be really daunting. I hated feeling lazy or unproductive, but I also knew that I deserved to relax after a long day or week.

And don’t even get me started on weekends. Most weekends, everyone leaves so you’re stuck in a huge building by yourself just doing absolutely nothing.

But, if you’re like me, the weekends were your favorite. I spent my weekends’ cleaning, doing laundry, listening to music, doing homework, watching movies, practicing self-care, it was total bliss.

There will be moments where you just feel lonely (I know I did at times), but as long as you find something to do (like that homework you’re leaving for last minute), you’ll be fine.

Clubs & Events

The one thing about college students is that they tend to migrate towards free stuff. Clubs and events get the biggest turnout whenever there’s free stuff given out. Whether its clothes, food, or gift cards, students will show up.

Which is why not many students care about attending club meetings. The club meetings I went to had about 8-15 students each, which isn’t a lot.

During my first involvement fair, I signed up for like 30 clubs, some peeked my interests, and others gave free stuff for sign-ups.

I didn’t attend all the clubs, matter fact I only went to a handful of meetings.

It wasn’t until my second semester that I actually started to care about clubs and events.

But, I absolutely love being in clubs. There’s a club for everything you can imagine, and if there isn’t, it’s super easy to create one. They are also open to literally anyone and are led by students instead of faculty.

Joining these clubs helped me develop new interests and hobbies and meet new people. And, it also gave me something to do when I was bored.

Events, on the other hand, are a completely different story.

Most huge events take place at night or on the weekends, and trust me, they are HECTIC.

Events at my school were always full to the brim. Especially because they promoted free t-shirts and food.

This was probably one of my favorite parts about college because they were super fun, connected me to different people, and gave me free stuff.

I definitely suggest going to a variety of events your freshman year because it can expose you to so many different things. and they’re free, so why not?

Class Settings

If you spent your entire high school career hearing teachers say ” we’re going to treat you like college students” but still had them assign you seats alphabetically, then you’re in for a surprise in college. No college teacher is going to assign you a seat. You simply walk in and sit wherever you feel like it.

The fact that I attend a relatively small school means that I have the benefit of having small classroom settings. My smallest class so far had about 9 students while my biggest had about 30. Sadly, I can’t speak to you about lecture classes with over 300 students because in my school we don’t have that. But, small classes can be scary as well.

When you first walk into class that first day, it can be a little awkward if you don’t know anyone. I know I tried my best to sit in the front but in a seat where there weren’t many people around (most students sit in the back anyway). At first, I didn’t want to speak because I didn’t want to embarrass myself by saying the wrong thing. But, after a couple of weeks, I grew comfortable in my small class setting.

The fact that my classes were relatively small made it easier for me to get into a comfortable routine where I was able to answer questions and interact with my professors.

It also meant that my professors noticed whenever someone was struggling and were more open to understanding our situations. In my small classrooms, we all developed a bond that was unique to that class period. We would laugh, create inside jokes, and learn together, which was honestly an amazing experience.

I didn’t really have any negative experiences in my class settings. Everyone pretty much did what they had to do and minded their business.

The best part about the class settings was the fact that you didn’t need permission to leave the room. You simply left and no one questioned you or cared (and you can eat in the room).

The hours

Class times in college are completely different from regular school. When I was in middle school and high school my school day started at 8 am and finished around 2:30 pm. But in college, your classes can start at 8 am or 10 am or even 6 pm.

Class time also varies. I had classes that were an hour and a half, 2 hours, and 3 hours.

And sometimes you’ll even have days off. I had friends that always had Fridays off. I personally didn’t have any days off but I did have days when I only had 1 class.

In college, you also have the freedom of choosing your schedule and choosing the time in which you start your day.

I preferred to start my days at 10 am (and that’s early for a college student).

I have no idea how I started my days at 8 am during high school if I can barely keep my eyes open at 8 am in college.

You also have a lot of breaks in between classes. My second semester I had a six-hour break in between my classes on Tuesdays. I also had late classes that ended at 9 pm.

Assignments

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I feel like this is a topic that frightens every student going into college. Each school level we enter our assignments get lengthier and harder, and college is no different.

College is where you really have to think because not all answers are going to be easily accessible on Quizlet or SparkNotes.

I have a pretty love/hate relationship with college assignments because although you have more time to do your work, it also takes a long time to finish one assignment. One essay for an English class can take you weeks (but there are times when you get lazy and pull an all-nighter because you haven’t even started).

At the beginning of the semester, professors will hand you a syllabus with all the information for the class. It has the rules, contact information, office hours, resources, and assignment/exam schedules.

The majority of your professors will provide you with enough time to complete assignments.

For example, in my English classes, we did one paper per month. And it wasn’t because we were incapable of writing an essay in a week, but rather the fact that the papers required a lot more work than a regular 5-paragraph argumentative essay. We had to write pages upon pages with proper citations and formatting. We had to really understand what we were writing about because if we couldn’t critically analyze Plato’s “The Allegory of The Cave”, we wouldn’t get a passing grade.

So honestly, if you want to pass, put in the work. Do all your assignments thouroughly and on time and study every night!

Exams

In college, you really only have 2 tests, a midterm and a final. Some teachers might give you quizzes here and there, but it’s rare.

Exams are also not as long as you’d think they’d be. However long your class period is, that’s how long you have to take the exam. Most exams are written but some professors do give multiple choice. When it came to written exams my professors would either give me 4 questions which I needed to answer or gave me 6-8 and I chose 3-4 to answer.

Most of my professors gave me review sheets (some even gave me the actual questions/answers). And the best part? As soon as you’re done, you’re allowed to leave. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard that right. The second you finish your exam you can leave the room and go about your day. In college you don’t have to wait for the last person to finish their exam for the teacher to dismiss you, you simply LEAVE.

Professors

When it comes to professors you either hit or miss. Some professors are the most amazing people you will meet while others make you question how they got their degrees.

All my professors in college were amazing except for like 3.

My amazing professors really made an effort to interact with their students and conducted their classes through discussions instead of lectures. They were also very prompt in answering your questions and emails.

While my not so great professors really made me hate school. They ranted, were monotone, weren’t personable, and never answered emails.

HOWEVER, I really think that despite every negative, I learned a very valuable lesson in each class.

Whether your professor is amazing or downright boring, it is up to you to make the most out of every class.

What Would I Change?

If I could repeat my freshman year I would change 3 things.

  1. Actually leave my room and interact with people;
  2. Manage my time better so I would always have something to do; &
  3. Be mindful of what I eat and work out more.

I feel that although I started doing this my second semester, I could’ve done more.

Your first semester is truly a learning point in your life because you actually see what works and what doesn’t.

Nevertheless, everything in life is a lesson and we can’t look back, we can simply move forward.

In one of Natalie Bacon’s podcast episodes, she says, “The past is only sentences in our heads.” And she is definitely right.

We can’t dwell on what went wrong our first semesters, we can simply live, learn, and grow.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I believe my first year of college was a success. I had my good moments and I had my bad, but I don’t really like to dwell on the negatives (which is why I don’t emphasize them in this post).

However, each experience is different and what I experienced in college can be COMPLETELY different from what you experience.

I also want to remind you that everyone you interact with is different and it is important to always be kind and appreciative.

We never know what tomorrow may bring or who we will encounter in our future.

That being said, I hope that this post was helpful and gave you some insight into the world of college. I will be making more blog post related to college so stay tuned for that!! And make sure to make the most out of every experience!

8 Time Management Tips for College Students
5 Things to Look Out For When Looking For Colleges
Ultimate College Must-Haves

Until next time,

Stay Vibrant & Embrace The Gray

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