What I Learned My First Year at College

Last updated: Oct 26, 2020

Acclimating to university life can be a dynamic change in the lives of many incoming first year students. While your first year of college will be great, sometimes you will be stressed. The sudden shift in environment and new course materials may intimidate you, you might miss your family. What I learned my first year of college though, is that this is all normal. The important thing about your first year of college, is learning the good habits that put you into good shape for your college career, and future career.

USF students having a meal together

Stress Management

University life moves quickly, and you will have to adapt to a new pace that you set for yourself. This might be easy, or it might be hard. Either way, there are resources on campus that are designed to help you should you require any assistance. My freshman year, I fell victim to the freshman 15, because I spent too many nights studying and neglected paying attention to what I was putting into my body.

At USF, the counselling center is free for students, Student Health Services is available should you require medical attention, and there is even a campus nutritionist that can help. Your physical, mental, and emotional health are critical to your college success, so take advantage of the resources that are already there.

Change the Scenery

Korosh J, a pre-medical senior at USF says that knowing where around campus he could relax and work was big for him in his freshman year. “It could have gone more smoothly if I was informed about the kinds of places that are good for just sitting down and having a refreshment or reading a book. I know the library is suitable for that kind of thing, but it also helps to have a change of scenery once in a while, especially when you study frequently at the library.”

Changing your surroundings can be important if your roommate prefers a different study environment as well. Some students like silent study time, others like to have music playing. These two students probably wouldn’t be studying together, so find an environment that makes you comfortable, where you feel you can be most productive. Planning out your own study locations can be the key to your success, and a way to bypass any conflict with a roommate. At USF, the fifth floor is one big quiet study hall that all students can take advantage of.

USF students studying at the library

Going the Extra Mile

Wei Chen is an Environmental Sciences junior, and he says that his freshman year taught him what he was like as a person. “You have to put effort into showing up to events to understand how you are as a person and what kind of environment you relate to. The time you spend is a commitment.”

The events you commit to as a student not only develop you professionally or academically, but they develop you as a person. Florida Focus and the local WUSF station hold events that students can sign on to for interactivity. These events teach students about media but are also a lot of fun for a learning experience. Your freshman habits and class participation will reflect on you well into your academic careers.

You’re Going to Goof

We all make mistakes. As the great Irish novelist James Joyce wrote, “Mistakes are the portals to discovery.” Some classes will challenge you, they may be outside your comfort zone or area of expertise. This is fine.

Senior Jessica U said, reflecting on her freshman experience, “I wish someone would have told me that it’s okay to not do as well as you expected to. As a first-generation college student, I never had anyone tell me that sometimes your expectations don’t meet reality. It’s all a learning experience.”

University life is a setting that students experience some of their most enriching moments in. So it is important to make sure that you are in peak condition for it. For more information on staying healthy at college both mentally and physically, visit USF’s health services or contact them directly at 813-974-2331.