By Erica Sharron
Your freshman year of college is often considered to be the first big step towards your future. This is the year when you get everything started, finish your general education requirements, and pave the way toward your major. If you’re like some honors students, you probably took AP and dual enrollment classes for the GPA boost in high school. While that allows you to test the waters, it doesn’t usually give you the full picture of what a university will be like. College is more than just the class and the corresponding assignment; it’s all the walking, working, planning and stressing in between. It can get really overwhelming at times. I had a pretty good idea of what to expect my freshman year, but even so, there are some things that I really just wish I had known sooner.
- Write That Stuff Down (Seriously, Write it ALL Down)
I know this sounds a little ridiculous, but between attending class, working, driving, sleeping and basically functioning in everyday life, you can forget a lot of things. Get yourself a tough little notebook and make plans. Keep a schedule. Jot down important due dates and appointment times. Remind yourself to run by Student Services or scribble down a quick notice about shifting your lunch time because you have to meet with a professor after class. Some things are easier to forget than others, so if you have any doubts, write it down.
- Maintain Constant Vigilance
Don’t let your guard down for even a second. A lot of classes have open due dates, but DO NOT put the assignment off until the day before it’s due. More than likely, you’ll end up with a few other assignments due on the same day. Read the directions to every assignment thoroughly, and then read them again. If a professor mentions reading quizzes, it’s in your best interests not to take that lightly. They usually mean it. If your class has an eLearning component, it may be possible to keep track of assignments and due dates via updates there in addition to any email reminders that your professor may be kind enough to send out. Your classmates can also be a source of information, as well.
- Your Student Email is Your Friend
Seriously, check your UWF email account daily. It is very important and often the most convenient line of communication for both staff and student body. Group projects will always be a thing, no matter how old you get. I would recommend adding your student Gmail account to whatever email app you have on your phone.
- Find Something to Look Forward To
Here’s the thing: Life can be a total drag sometimes, and it can get to the point where it’s really difficult to find the energy to do even the most basic of things. So if you can, find something that makes you happy about the day. Do you enjoy Florida’s terribly unpredictable and ever-shifting weather patterns? Take happiness from the sun showers and the thunderstorms. Are you excited to finally wear shorts and shirts that are outside of your old high school’s dress code regulations? (I know I sure was!) Do you love what you’re majoring in? Are you passionate about a playing a sport or an instrument? Are you simply ready to break out into a new world and leave the past behind? Take strength from that and knowing you can do anything.
- Take Care of Yourself
Whenever I was feeling particularly useless, my freshman roommate liked to remind me that everyone has a different 100 percent. For some people, that means taking a million internships, running for SGA, being an Honors representative and basically a classroom god. For other people, that simply means keeping up with your classes and spending the rest of your time resting in your dorm room. Both of those are completely okay. The Health Clinic on campus offers mental health checks if you’re worried about your depression or anxiety interfering with your ability to function. A lot of the RA’s and even students your own age are more than willing to help you through any sort of crisis you may be facing.
More than anything, just keep going. Take a deep breath, hold your head up and ask for help when you need it!