Freshman year of college marks the beginning of the best and hardest time of your life. While you’ll have the liberating feeling of independence, you will also feel the stress of what seems like a never-ending list of responsibilities. The truth is, navigating through a college environment can be tricky at first. Maintaining a social life and trying to attain academic achievement, while keeping your mental and physical health in check can become a balancing act at times. Although maintaining this balance may seem difficult, it is possible. Just put these five tips into practice.
Leave any expectations you may have about your freshman year at home. College is not like the movies. Each college campus is different and has its own sets of characteristics. Along with its unique set of characteristics, each college campus consists of several different groups of people. Breaking up into cliques can be a hard high school habit to break at first. To break the habit, leave any assumptions and stereotypes based on appearances behind. Putting yourself out there can grant you a whole lot of new experiences. However, keep in mind that new experiences come to everyone at different paces. It’s completely okay if you're not living it up on the first week. There can be a lot of pressure around quickly making friends and going out to parties but do not let that pressure get to you. Do what you want at your own pace. At the end of the day, It’s your life you’re living.
You might think this one is a given, but it’s easy to forget about self-care. College can get pretty busy, especially during exam season. Regardless, It’s important to remember that your body is a temple and It’s your number one tool in college, so you must make sure it’s being treated right.
Believe it or not, sleep is the key to college. You might be thinking, “what about the all-nighters people always rave about?” Well, I'm here to tell you don’t do it because you will regret it. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule will help you retain and recall information much better and will boost your energy throughout the day.
Eating and staying hydrated will also help you with that energy boost. Your body is constantly burning calories running back and forth between classes, work, and student organizations. Make sure you are getting enough to eat to avoid any fatigue that will want to slowly creep in during lecture.
Make sure you schedule in a self-care day to physically and mentally recharge. Take a day to sleep in, pamper yourself, and do what you love. College can get exhausting and drain your physical and emotional battery. Give yourself the time to recharge and most importantly, If you feel troubled about anything, talk to a friend or a family member. You may be on your own now, but you’re not alone. Mental illnesses are unfortunately common among college students, so don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek help or counseling.
As fun as procrastinating on your homework was in high school, It won’t be as fun in college. Time management becomes something you can’t avoid in college, take it from someone who has missed an exam or two because of poor scheduling. There are too many deadlines and exam dates to keep track of in your head, this is were a sturdy planner comes in handy. Before college, I hardly ever touched a planner, but now all my exams, deadlines, and events are color-coded. To-do lists and bullet journaling also help make scheduling easier and increases productivity. Having a physical representation of what you have to do makes it more likely you’ll do it.
Picking between work and play can also get tricky. The good news is, it is possible to do both. Having a study session with your friends is an example of balancing the two simultaneously. Using a reward system is also a productive way of having both. For example, You could plan a night out as a reward for finishing your assignments early.
Yes, I know. Exercise is the last thing you want to do when you have an assignment due at midnight, but It plays an important role in maintaining your mental health. Exercising is known to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The trick to exercising is to go into it with an open mind. There is no maximum or minimum time that you have to dedicate to it, there is no specific regiment you have to follow, it’s all up to your needs. You might be someone who loves a quick cardio session in the evenings or you might be someone who prefers yoga in the mornings. Trying out different workouts can help you find what works best for your physical needs. Meditating before going to sleep or before starting your day is something small that can make a big difference in your daily life. It provides a boost of confidence and tranquility to take on the day.
Out of all the tips mentioned so far this one, in my opinion, is the most important. It has granted me so many life experiences that I cherish and learn from today. Leaving your comfort zone can be intimidating for some people at first, so it's okay to leave it at your own pace. Taking risks and diving into the unfamiliar will allow you to gain new perspectives and new understandings of the campus and the world around you. Don’t be hesitant about Joining student organizations. Find an organization that stands for something you love. Student organizations give you the chance to expand your network and make some friends who share common interests.
Never leave a question unanswered. You can go up to the professor or the teacher assistant after the lecture if asking during the lecture isn’t your thing. Asking questions shows your dedication to the class and makes you stand out from other students. You can also ask questions during their office hours. Your questions don’t have to be strictly about the content either. Ask about any scholarships, internships, or organizations that you might be inquiring about. They might have some knowledge about some or could refer you to someone who could give you more information.
If you’re struggling academically, make time to go to those extra tutoring or pre-exam study sessions. These sessions often offer you step by step sample questions that mimic the exam.
On the social aspect of leaving your comfort zone, try to do something or go somewhere you’ve never done or been before. College is a time for growth and the only way to grow is to stretch your limits. Taking on new challenges or visiting new places can come with great inspiration. You can spark new ideas that can help you stay motivated throughout the semester.
During my freshman year orientation, the student class president described college to be like flying. There are going to be times of turbulence and there are going to be times when you look outside the window of the plane and see the most beautiful view. In the end, you’re going to feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. Take it easy, take it slow. Always remember to try to enjoy the moments in front of you!