15 Things I Learned During My First Year of College

Tuesday, April 26, 2016, by Kashay Webb


As the semester comes to an end, I decided to reflect on some lessons I learned during my first year of college. I remember frantically scrolling through Pinterest for tips on how to prepare. As soon as the semester began I started to realize that nothing can fully prepare you for your first year, it's an entirely new world. Here are some of the things I learned (they are not in order of importance):

1. Email
Always check your e-mail. It's much easier to check your e-mail if it is already linked to an app on your phone. I often come out of an hour long lecture and there are 10 or more e-mails waiting for me. E-mail has become more important than text messages at this point in my life.
2. Lecture/Lab Preparation
The amount of time I spend in lecture and lab now is about 22 hours a week compared to the 35 or so hours I spent in class a week in high school. Although you are generally in class for less time than in high school, the preparation is a lot more time consuming. There are days that I go back to my dorm after 3 hours in class but I spend around 8 hours preparing for my upcoming lectures and labs (no, this is not because of procrastination.) Overall I would say I am in class less than in high school but after factoring in time spent preparing for my classes, a much larger chunk of my life is spent on school now. 
3.Study Groups
Yes, you may be able to study by yourself and do very well on tests and quizzes, but there is nothing like a study group. I often study by myself and study again with my study groups because during those times you always realize there was something that you did not know. I also find that I retain information for a longer period of time after going over it with classmates. 
4.Organization
Generally about a month into the semester things start to get crazy! If you're like me, you are very forgetful. It helps to buy a planner and a notebook for jotting down how you're going to spend your time each day and assignments/to-dos. Your grades and sanity will thank you later. 
5. You Time
College is my top priority right now so I tend to invest massive amounts of time and energy in it daily. It's important to set aside "you time" to avoid burn out. I usually plan out the time for myself, making sure I get assignments out of the way and leave large gaps of time to hang out with friends, snuggle up with a good book, or even cook a nice dinner. College is important, but you are too. Never forget that. 
6. Printing and Vending Machines
A.K.A. I had money and now I don't. Beware of miscellaneous money snatchers like these ones. Printing is only 5 cents a page at my school, yet I constantly find myself putting money on my printing card. Don't even get me started on vending machines. (Who put them so close to my dorm?)
7. Business Office, Financial Aid Office, Registrar
I've come to learn that these offices sometimes need an extra push. Even though our problems central to us, this is not the case in other people's lives. It's not that the workers in these offices do not care about you, they just have to deal with so many students. Although this is true, it never hurts to ask questions or follow up on important documents. 
8. Library
Most of the universities I've seen have stellar libraries. USE THEM!!! One minute you're on your bed reading about racial injustice and 5 minutes later you're sleeping. Personally, I cannot do major assignments in my dorm. The library has a certain vibe that makes me want to do my assignments. Go to the library often, you are paying for it.
9. Professor Relations
This year I have cultivated some of the best relationships with my professors. Go to office hours and talk to them. It doesn't even necessarily have to be about the class. I have found that my professors are some of the coolest people ever. They are not there just to lecture you and grade your assignments. Your professors can be fountains of knowledge and very insightful, but you'd never know that if you don't talk to them. 
10. Choosing Classes
There are some general education and major requirements that seem like a pain but they don't have to be. A part of getting the most out of your college education is the classes you choose. Try your best to choose classes that are of interest to you. It'll make getting out of bed a whole lot easier.
11. Friends
I only knew one person when I came to college and most of our classes were different. I thought I probably wouldn't make any friends. When I think about the amazing friendships I've made thus far that seems like a ridiculous thought. If you happen to be in the place I was, don't panic. I've learned that college friendships sort of float to you. Don't fret and don't force the friendships. They will come to you.
12. Campus Events
Yeah, I know that paper is due tomorrow and you just got out of a four hour lab. Attend those campus events though, not only because it's good to support the community, but because there's more to the college experience than going to and from class and doing assignments. 
13. Family 
Call your family and visit when you can. Your mom misses you and your little brother has grown 3 inches since the last time you've seen him. Attending college is not a free pass to neglect your family.
14. Roommate Etiquette
If your roommate is like mine, he/she did not choose to be your roommate, they were randomly placed with you. While you are in college your roommate is like your family away from home. Don't leave your room a mess for weeks on end, bring over your visitor without checking in with them, or be obnoxious while they're trying to study. Even if you do these things at home, please spare your roommate from witnessing these atrocities.
15. Textbooks
Textbooks were a cost I never gave much consideration to before college. Textbooks are expensive! Plan ahead to buy textbooks and cut any costs you can. I personally like to find pdf versions of textbooks and read them in the iBooks app on my iPad. Also, you're probably shoving out hundreds of dollars on textbooks, don't just throw them in the corner! Sometimes it's a pain but read the book, you paid for it!

I know there is a lot more to learn during my college years but I think I'm off to a great start :)


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