College can be an overwhelming time for newcomers. For most students, it's the first time they'll be living alone and away from their parents, making new friends, while earning a degree that will ultimately transition them into adulthood and the workforce. While this can be overwhelming yet exciting, the first year in college can pose a lot of challenges for college freshmen. Though there are always problems students encounter in university no matter their year in school, freshman students don't have much to compare to their new situation, and can easily find themselves stressed out and missing home. Luckily, there are solutions to these problems.
1. Navigating Your Class Schedule
One of the hardest things that freshman need to face is navigating their class schedule. From the moment you get into school, you will need to choose your own classes, plan your schedule and eventually find out where your classes are on campus. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and confusion. But, don't worry.
First and foremost, when you go to college, you will need to choose your classes and create your own schedule. Although there are counselors to help you with this, a lot of it needs to be done on your own. So, don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure of anything. Next, the college you attend will likely be much bigger than your high school. And, if you think back to your first year in high school, you probably had a hard time figuring out where your classes were too.
Before your first day of classes freshman year, you can overcome this challenge by getting a map of your school and taking a day to practice your schedule and see where your classes are. You can do this with your roommate or with new friends you meet at orientation, to get some support and make the experience more enjoyable. You don't want to be lost on your first day of school!
2. Balancing Academics and a Social Life
Another challenge that freshmen encounter is balancing everything there is to do. You will first need to prioritize all of your classes, studies, projects and homework assignments, which can be a lot harder than you are used to. But, you will need to find a way to balance academics with your social life too. In high school, it's often easier to balance these two because you go to school with your friends at the same time each day. But, in college, your schedule may not align with your friends' schedules.
While academics are important, it's just as important to maintain friendships and have new experiences in college. So, to overcome this challenge, practice time management skills by getting an agenda book or a calendar. Stay on top of your work and make plans with friends at least once a week, or join a club on campus.
3. Dealing with Financial Issues
One thing that freshman students often worry about is money. Money is a big challenge for students. Even though you are often provided room and board within the cost of your tuition, for many students, this is the first time they're really on their own financially. Therefore, you have to be mindful about how much money you're spending each time you go somewhere or when you spend time with your friends. You may consider getting a job during the school year or over the summer to have extra pocket money. If you're having financial concerns, you can talk to a trusted adult in your family or a financial aid advisor at school.
4. Finding Time to Eat Healthy and Exercise
The "Freshman 15" is an expression commonly used to talk about how freshmen usually gain 15 pounds their first year of college. This is often due to the lack of healthy eating options on campus, a new eating schedule than you're used to, the lack of exercise and ultimately, drinking. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, be conscientious about what you're eating and take note of where the healthy foods are on campus. Make time to utilize the gym several days a week, and avoid consuming things that aren't good for your health.
5. Figuring Out Your Future
Finally, one of the biggest challenges that freshman students face is constantly thinking about, "What am I going to do while I'm here?" In many schools, students do not need to declare their major the first year they are in college. But, this can put a lot of pressure on students who want to make sure they aren't wasting any time taking classes they don't need to be taking. To overcome this, take your general education and elective credits freshman year. Those classes need to be taken anyway, so you can get them out of the way before you declare your major. Also, consider meeting with your academic advisor to talk about your goals, and they can likely point you in the right direction.
Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.