When I arrived on campus in August, I thought that I knew exactly how my freshman year would go. Now, I can honestly say it surpassed my wildest dreams, and that these last months have been some of the best ones of my life. That’s not to say that everything has been perfect, in fact there are many things that I wish I’d known when starting my freshman year. In this post, I want to share some important takeaways from the year, and advice for people preparing to begin the journey that is college.
In high school, my teachers often told me that I’d enter college more than prepared to handle the work required to maintain good grades. As such, I came to school confident that I’d be able to finish all my assignments with no problems and easily earn high marks on papers and exams. Within the first month of classes, I quickly realized that classes and homework are much more rigorous than high school. Every one of my classes forced me to work harder and think critically, but because of this rigor I left each class with a profound new understanding of material, excited to take additional classes and continue learning about topics. The professors at USC are phenomenal, so take advantage of them– engage with them during class, go to office hours, and ask questions in and outside of class.
Time Management and Personal Health
One of my friends who’s now a senior in college gave me a piece of advice before I left for school which I believe is worth sharing: “Make time for what matters most.” We only have a limited time to experience college, which makes time management skills extremely important. At USC, there’s never a shortage of opportunities and events, and you may often feel like you’re missing out on things when you’re studying. College is all about finding a balance between school work, extracurricular activities, time with friends, and other opportunities, and though this is a difficult balance to find, by prioritizing what matters most to you you’ll be able to enjoy what’s referred to as “the best years of your life.” But at the end of the day, don’t forget to prioritize yourself and your own health– set enough time aside to get adequate sleep and make time to talk to the people who matter most to you.
A lot of freshman year can be summed up in an infamous Magic School Bus quote: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” The most important part of my freshman year for me has been taking risks and embracing failure. I wouldn’t have found a summer internship without spending hours refining my resume, wandering the career fair, attending networking events, and sending out cold emails. For every job application that didn’t pan out, I persevered and eventually found an internship that I can’t wait to begin when summer starts. Furthermore, if I was afraid of failure I wouldn’t have applied to be a part of organizations which have come to mean so much to me, such as Trojan Knights, nor would I have become an executive board member in three of the clubs I’m involved with. Though it may seem cliche, when going through college remember that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” These are only a few pieces of advice, but I hope that you’re able to take something away from all of them. I can promise you that your freshman year of college will be a rollercoaster, so enjoy the ride, and don’t be too afraid of any steep drops and loop-de-loops along the way– embrace them!