10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Semester of College

Tuscaloosa, AL

College is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it can also be one of the biggest life adjustments. Here are 10 things that helped me survive my first semester at the University of Alabama, hopefully they come in handy to you too.

  1. Know how to cook at least one easy meal that you can make with limited supplies. I promise you it is worth the effort. Dining hall food is not the most glamorous, it will get old fast, and so will Ramen and Easy Mac.
  1. Comfortable clothes and shoes are a must. Unless you have a presentation or a meeting those jeans and boots really are not worth it when you walk 6-8 miles a day.
  1. Your instructor will NOT remind you of anything. No, they will not tell you the day before a test that there is a test, they will not tell you there is homework due the next class. It’s all in your syllabus, they will explain all due dates on the first day of class and never mention them again, follow your syllabus religiously.
  1. Office hours aren’t just there for the fun of it. Office hours are actually extremely helpful. Your professors want to answer your questions, that’s what they are there for. My professors gave me answers to study guides when I couldn’t find them, only because I was the only person that showed up to ask about them.
  1. Knock on your neighbors’ doors your first week on campus. No, it’s not weird. Yes, you will make friends this way. I decided not to join a sorority this year so I relied on meeting random people to make friends. When that didn’t work out I knocked on my entire floor’s doors and now my best friends live across the hallway from me. It is so easy and you don’t have to go far!
  1. GO TO CLASS. I missed one class all semester, I ended up with straight A’s. One of my roommates went to class maybe 5 or 6 times all semester, she didn’t pass most of her classes. There IS a relationship between going to class and good grades. Your professors will share information in class that will help you on tests that they may not put online. And in most classes attendance factors into your actual grade, so attending class is vital.
  1. Don’t buy your books from the bookstore. They are double and triple the price in the bookstore as anywhere else. First of all, wait to buy your textbooks until class starts because some professors on the first day of class will tell you books are not even needed. If you do need your books, rent from amazon or buy from someone who has already taken the class. Amazon books are free to ship back and they’re in good enough condition to get you through the class.
  1. Learn to say yes, but in a good way. Your friends are going to ask you to go out on a Tuesday night, do it. Just not every Tuesday night. Spontaneity is fun, and those are the moments you’ll remember about your semester, just make sure you’re not blowing school off to have the time of your life.
  1. Don’t pretend you are someone who you are not just to “fit in”. I promise you will find friends who think exactly like you and have the same interests on campus. Don’t settle with people who make you unhappy just because you think you won’t make other friends. I saw this happen a lot in my first semester and so many of those people aren’t coming back for our next semester for the sole reason that they don’t like their friends.
  1. Your first semester is just what it sounds like, the first. You are going to make mistakes, you are going to ignore all the advice that people before you have given you, and then you are going to do exactly what they said. But that’s ok. This semester, and college in general, is meant to make mistakes and learn how to survive this life on your own. Good luck on your adventure trying to figure your first out!

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