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5 Tips for College Freshmen: Advice to Survive Your First Year in College

Editor’s Note: Freshman year of college is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, full of ups and downs. University of Thomas student Ally Piotrowski (Theology ’16) shares her advice for college freshmen.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed your freshmen year of college. What you do in your first year of college can have a tremendous impact on the rest of your college years, and your life. Understanding some common college life advice going into it can be very helpful. Reference the college life tips I found helpful my first year in college.

Freshman Tip #1: Participate in Events on Campus

Freshmen at University of St. Thomas in Houston

I may be a little biased because I’m an RA, but I believe that going to the events on campus is vital. Events are the perfect opportunity to do something fun, to make new friends and to take a break from studying. At first, I avoided participating in college events during my early years because I am an introvert, and was afraid of being in a room with a lot of people. Then I realized I sat in my room all day studying, and I deserved to have fun. Since I started going to events, I have made a lot of friends and had so many amazing experiences. Not to mention the free stuff that they give away at events is AWESOME.

Freshman Tip #2: Go to Class

This might seem like an odd tip for a first-year college student, but be a good student and go to class. In college, there is freedom because professors don’t always take attendance, but don’t make the mistake of missing classes – especially your first year. In my experience, going to class and participating will help you achieve great grades. After all, how are you going to know anything about the subject matter if you haven’t heard the professor lecture on it? Start college off right and be a good student.

Freshman Tip #3: Get an Internship

I would highly recommend looking into an internship even if it’s not required for your major. The internship I had at City Hall the beginning of my sophomore year was life changing. I had always been interested in politics, and did extremely well in high school government. Naturally, I thought political science would be ideal for me. I was grateful to have had the opportunity to work for six months at City Hall (through a stressful election time), and learned that politics was not the right place for me. I wouldn’t have known this had I not taken my internship. Although it is a great career field for some folks, I didn’t enjoy being behind a desk every day. I also found there wasn’t much time to go outside, and it took a long time to help people. My internship helped me better understand myself and what future careers would make me happy. I think it is very important for all students to have the experience of a college internship.

Freshman Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to ask for help

We all know college is difficult and students have to sacrifice a lot in order to get there. Sometimes you are going to need help, whether it is with a class you don’t understand, or if you need some help with stress management. UST offers a wide variety of student-focused offices that are willing to help you out. Some offices at UST that really helped me are:

  • Counseling and Disability Services
  • Tutorial Services Office

Even if you don’t need anything right now, drop by and familiarize yourself with the wonderful staff members and dog in those offices. They would love to see you! You can also talk to your professors during office hours, or your RA. There are people to help!

Freshman Tip #5Live in the Moment

The most important college freshman advice I can give is to live in the moment. When I first got to college, I thought to myself that I’m a grown up. I got a big internship at City Hall and it was time to get serious. I attended parties and overall just had fun. Things seemed to be going pretty well for me, but I will admit I was really stressed out. Remembering to allow myself to have fun and do hobbies I loved really helped keep my stress levels down. I would recommend to any student to find hobbies and activities you love to do, and fit them in whenever you have time so you have something to look forward to outside of class.

I hope these five tips for college freshmen offer some insight to what to expect your freshman year of college. If you have any questions about the University of St. Thomas, don’t hesitate to reach out to their friendly staff. Good luck!

About the Author — Staff

AvatarThe University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic, liberal arts university in Houston, Texas. We have 35+ undergraduate majors including STEM, Nursing, Business, Education and Pre-Med. Located in a vibrant urban environment just minutes from downtown and the famed Texas Medical Center, we welcome students of all races and religions to our diverse and collaborative campus.

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