How to make the most of your freshman year of college
5 insider tips for high school seniors that will help you thrive as a new college student
If you’re a senior in high school, you’re probably hearing “Congratulations!” and “Welcome to <your new college>!” a lot these days. It all sounds so exciting, but if you’re like a lot of people, the thought of this new chapter of your life can also be a little nerve racking.
Regardless of which college you’re planning to attend, you are at the starting point of an incredible journey. In the years to come you’ll have opportunities to be a student, intern, leader, teammate, researcher, volunteer, graduate, and alumnus - plus more! You’ll also discover more about yourself and your unique abilities, which can align you with people and knowledge that will empower you to begin what may eventually become your life’s work.
No matter how you look at it, this is a time of celebration! And before you get too far along in this journey, I want to give you some insider tips on how to make the most of your experiences, starting now.
Here are my top 5 pieces of freshman college advice for you.
1. Make friends with your professors. Your college will have fantastic teachers who can also become valuable mentors, friends, dinner party hosts, confidants, and trusted advisors. Get to know them and invest in building a good relationship with them from the very beginning.
2. Get comfortable with change. You may change your mind about your major, summer opportunities, and extracurricular involvement. Be open to those possibilities, give yourself permission to grow, and be proud of the ways change will help you develop resiliency and grit.
3. Notice the activities you enjoy. Pay attention to those times when you feel like you are at your best. Those moments of thriving will give you clues about your future career.
4. Explore your options with intention. At most universities you’ll have opportunities to take core classes outside of your major that pique your interest – take advantage of them to broaden your interests and marketability. Do an internship (or a few) as a trial run for a future job. You never know what you might connect with immediately, or what you will discover is absolutely not for you. Both are valuable insights!
5. Find a mentor you trust. Whether it is a staff person, professor, alumnus, or someone from your local community back home, seek out the wisdom of someone who is farther along than you. He or she can help you process your experiences, overcome the mistakes you’ll inevitably make, and find answers to your biggest questions.
One last piece of advice. If you haven’t done so already, connect with the Vocation and Career Center at your new college. Spend time with the person or team that will walk alongside you on your unique journey to discover your greatest skills and interests and explore how you can use them to impact the world for good.
This is your time. You’ve come a long way to be here. Now use these 5 tips to your advantage as you prepare to take your next steps and you’ll soon see that the best is yet to come!