Top tips for college freshmen

Top tips for college freshmen

It’s official class of 2015, we are in the home stretch of our senior year. If you’re like me, you’re more than ready to be done, leave high school behind and move on to the next chapter of our lives. For some this means college, and I am now realizing that things are going to drastically change. For the first time in our lives we will be taking care of ourselves with almost no help from our parents. We will be responsible for going to class, doing our own laundry and making our own meals. To me though, the scariest part is starting over, leaving behind the people I’ve known my whole life and meeting new people. Like most of you, I have no clue how I’m going to successfully survive my freshman year of college. So, I decided to go to the experts. I gathered the opinions of Johnston alumni about their do’s and don’t’s during the freshman year of college. After talking to them I made my own list of the top five things to make the transition to college just a little bit easier.

#5 Go to class and STUDY.

Johnston alumni of 2014 and Iowa State University sophomore Bailee Nelson can’t stress enough how different college education is. “College is a whole new ball game compared to high school,” she said.  “If your study habits suck now, change them.” It’s also important to know that college classes are typically attendance based, and you can reduce your stress around finals by actually going to class. Also, take advantage of on campus study resources like the libraries and study groups. If high school was easy and you rarely had to study, change that habit as soon as possible, otherwise college will be a rude awakening.

#4 Choose your roommate wisely.

For most of us, we have never had to share a room with anybody, and now college comes and we have to share a room that’s no bigger than a cardboard box, with a stranger. It sounds horrifying, but if you do it right you’ll be much less miserable. The biggest tip our graduated seniors had about roommates is: DO NOT room with your best friend from high school. You think it will be great, but by the end of the year you will most likely hate each other. It almost never works so don’t risk it. If your roommate is a stranger, that doesn’t mean you won’t have some conflict. “If something is bothering you about your roommate, talk about it,” Nelson said. “If you don’t communicate your problems will become bigger.” So talk to each other, be honest and chose who you room with very wisely.


There are many ways to be social in college, high school graduate and Iowa State sophomore Nick Stitzel found a lot of success by joining a fraternity. “[Being in a fraternity] really helped my transition into college easier because I had people around me that are like me and to help me when I needed it,” Stitzel said. “And then I’m always meeting new people because the Greek system is such a tight knit community. I’m constantly meeting people and making new connections.” A fraternity is one of many options to meet people in college. Opportunities are everywhere you go so take advantage of them, even if it’s uncomfortable. “Be social, Go out and meet new people as much as you can in classes, around campus and at parties,” Nelson said. “Even if it means stepping outside of your comfort zone.”

#2 Join a club or professional organization.

An important thing to do in college is to make connections and relationships with all kinds of people. “When you go to college I would definitely join one fun club,” Stitzel said. “Like something you enjoy, and then one kind of professional organization.” A professional organization would be something like a fraternity, where you can form professional relationships that will help you out in the future and give you experience. But you’re still young so join something that interests you and you’ll have fun doing. If this sounds confusing or hard, an easy solution that fulfills both, is a fraternity or sorority, so consider your options.

#1 College is a clean slate, DO NOT take it for granted.

College is a fresh start for all of us, we can leave behind who we were in high school and become someone we truly want to be. “You should see college bring out the who you truly are not who you’re trying to be.” Stitzel said. It’s not just socially that you get to start over, it’s actually every aspect of your life. “You are starting with a clean slate academically, socially and mentally,” Nelson said. “Do not take this for granted.”

It is also important that you stick to your values throughout the year and not give into doing things you don’t want to. “A lot of people that come to college get caught up in trying to be someone that they’re not,” Stitzel said. “but the people that have the most success are the people who do the things they’re passionate about, and that makes them the best version of themselves.”

So, take advantage of this opportunity, because this is one of the only times in your life you truly get a fresh start.

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