First Year Of College: 10 Tips To Help Freshmen Survive

A book and a cup of coffee sitting on a wooden table. The books title is Damn Good Advice. It represent the advice that is given first year of college

The first year of college is a huge transition. Creating good habits when you start will be critical to your success. Here are my top 10 tips that will help you become a successful college student.

1. Use Rate My Professors

I highly recommend you visit Rate My Professors. This website allows students to see feedback and reviews on their college professors. This helps a student decide whether they’ll be a good fit. Unfortunately, some professors are notorious for being hard and not giving out A’s while others are known for being easier. I never took a class without looking up the professor first. If I had to take a hard professor I wanted to know before I registered for the class.

Rate My Professors can be a great guide for college students and help you realistically prepare for your classes, this is why it is one of the Best Websites For College Students.

2. Find Good Friends / Roommates

Friends are essential for our mental, physical, and social well-being. Most of us already have friends established, we’re not actively looking for more when we head off to college. However, when you are in college those friends may not be able to be there for college-related matters, especially those that concern specific classes. You need a college friend who is a good study partner. Someone who you can share information with, cheer each other on, or get over academic hurdles together.

Studies show that students have a higher success rate in classes if they work together. Forming study groups with peers leads to better grades and study habits. Having a bit of moral support is great motivation to do better in a class. The reasons are endless but for a few see, Why You Should Make Friends With Your College Classmates.

It can be difficult to feel comfortable in your living space if you don’t get along with your roommate. Don’t put up with a bad roommate. If there’s tension between you and your roommate(s), try to work it out. Create a living agreement and establish boundaries that will make you more comfortable. Give it some time and then communicate whether it’s working or not. If it doesn’t get better, go to your Resident Advisor (RA), and the following semester get a new roommate.

3. Create A Study Space

Don’t study sitting on your bed or a couch, it isn’t the most effective place. Having an organized and clean study space will create a productive study environment saving you time and stress. It’s also one of the smartest things you can do as it sets you up to be a successful and well-disciplined student.

When you create a study space that is purposeful and functional you are creating a strategic advantage. You are indirectly setting yourself up to do well in your classes and in college. It is through indirect strategies like this that will be key to graduating college quickly and with the least amount of debt.

If you find yourself struggling to study in a dorm room see Creating The Perfect Study Space for tips on how to make your space more efficient and conducive to learning. Also, consider studying in the library, because it can be a quiet and distraction-free zone. Do whatever you need to do to study better.

4. Don’t Buy Your Textbooks From The Bookstore

It’s no secret that the cost of college textbooks is outrageous. reports that between course materials and textbooks, students can expect to spend between $1,240-$1,440 for an academic year (2019 Study). This is a lot of money for something you will use for a few months and most likely never use again. Avoid the campus bookstore, the textbooks are overpriced.

I personally know students who did not purchase the required textbook for a class in order to save money. I know this may be tempting, but don’t do it. There’s a better solution, rent the books you need. Renting textbooks allows you to save money because you pay a lower price upfront, they are shipped directly to you, and you can use them for the entire semester, and then return them by the return deadline. It’s as simple as that.

The campus bookstore is usually a madhouse during the first few weeks of the semester and the last week during final exams and buyback. Renting books can be less stressful. For a few tips to avoid the campus bookstore and where you can rent textbooks, How To Save Money In College By Renting Textbooks.

5. You Don’t Need To Know Your Passion Yet

In college, you’ll hear “find your passion” frequently. Although it sounds like a worthy pursuit, it can be stressful and discouraging if you feel like you can’t find your passion.

College should be about finding out what you like and dislike, what you’re good at, and what you’re not so good at. Give yourself time to figure it all out. Focus on growing, learning, enjoying hobbies, and creating skills that will support you in the future. Set goals and be proud of your accomplishments along the way.

When it comes to deciding your college major, passions are often mentioned as well. I want you to put passion aside and focus on practicability because unfortunately sometimes our passions are not enough. I’m not saying passion shouldn’t be pursued. I’m saying that sometimes our passions are not employable and they won’t earn us a good income. Therefore, if you are undecided and don’t know what you want to major in, read How To Choose A Major When You Are Undecided.

6. Take Care Of Your Mental Health

The life of a college student is demanding and full of responsibilities. Between classes and assignments, friends, family, work, and hobbies, college students have hectic schedules that can bring an immense amount of pressure. It’s not uncommon for students to become chronically stressed. Therefore, it’s important they take care of themselves and their mental health.

Mental health issues have steadily increased year over year for students. The statistics are staggering and are cause for concern. In 2021, more than a third (37%) of high school students experienced poor mental health during the prior year (CDC). Up to 44% of college students reported having symptoms of depression and anxiety (Mayo Clinic). Knowing how to take care of your mental health while in college will ensure your academic success and well-being.

How To Take Care Of Your Mental Health As A College Student has tips and resources for college students who want to take their mental wellness seriously.

7. Call Your Parents

If you are moving away from home, be sure to call home. Your family wants to know how you’re doing and what you’re up to. Be sure to check in.

If you still live at home, try to connect with your family even if your schedule is busy. Family dinner can be the perfect time to share how college is going. Also, your Family Can Be The Best Support System, if you need help or support, be sure to reach out.

A female who is in the first year of college is sitting on a sofa her backpack at her feet as she talk on the phone

8. Meet With Your Professors

Your college professors are valuable resources who are often not fully utilized. Beyond providing academic support, professors may be able to advise on which courses to take, how to participate in campus and community activities, help with resume development, recommend internships, and give career advice. A professor can also serve as a professional reference for you if you apply for graduate school or a job.

Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out

Though they can be intimidating, most professors don’t want you to be afraid of them, they genuinely want to connect with you. They want you to come to class ready to learn. They want to see that you are engaged and focused, but also respectful. Professors want students to learn, grow and succeed in their classroom.

It’s important to understand that professors are people too. Despite what you might think, like us, they have lives outside of the classroom. They have good days and bad days; they are not perfect. Show compassion and understanding as personally, they may be going through hard times.

9. Deal With Homesickness

For college students that leave home, it is normal to experience being homesick. Whether students are a few hours away from home, moving out of state, or across the country, all can feel some level of homesickness. College life is going to be enormously different than life at home. There will be new people, experiences, and responsibilities, and many college students may feel overwhelmed and miss the comforts of their homes and families.

I promise you, you’re not the only student on campus experiencing being homesick. Reach out to other students and you might find they are feeling the same way. Start a discussion or a friendship. Often, it will help just to talk about home life and share with someone.

Homesickness is one of those things that eases with time. It will take time to adjust to new people and your new environment. Try and stay positive and embrace the experience and journey that is college.

10. Get Good Grades

Good grades reflect a student’s hard work and comprehension of the course material. They show that you are a good student who can succeed in an academic environment as you work toward a degree. They are also needed to keep a healthy GPA. A student’s GPA does more than rank academic standing, it will also determine class rank, graduation, acceptance into a major, continued enrollment in your major, honors, academic warnings, financial aid and scholarship eligibility, future employment opportunities, eligibility for athletic teams and acceptance to graduate school. Getting good grades isn’t too complicated, any student can get a good grade.