8 Tips for Making the Most of Your First Year of College

Your first year of college is one of many changes. You’ll meet new people, gain new independence, and confront new ideas and experiences. As a result, you’ll grow as a person.

Growth often comes with growing pains—the changes you experience in your first year of college can be overwhelming. But with change comes opportunity. Whether you’re eager to apply for internships, deciding to transfer schools, or striving to be your best self, take the opportunity to make the most of your first year at college. It’ll set you in a solid direction for years to come.

[READ MORE for] some lessons I learned in my first year of college.

1. Be open-minded but true to yourself

College is a time for self-discovery. In your first year, you’re especially susceptible to new ideas and impressions. Keep this in mind, and be open to new interests, major changes, and taking different types of classes. Unless you’re on a rigid pre-career track, chances are that as a first year you’ll have some flexibility in your schedule. Take advantage of that. Your first year is your time to take that class solely because it sounds interesting. In a few years, when you’re managing a more concentrated class schedule, you may feel nostalgic for that unrestrained, encouraged freshman curiosity.

2. Put yourself out there and say “yes”

Try not to compare your new college friendships to your friendships from home. Your nascent college friendships will be very different than those you had in high school because you’ll have experienced different things together. Your new friends weren’t there at prom pictures or graduation, and they weren’t in your high school English class with that eccentric teacher. And that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s almost everybody’s college friendships. But just because these people weren’t a part of your past doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of your future. Say yes to doing things with new people to get to know them and create new memories with them. Give it time. And don’t be discouraged in your first semester if you feel like you’re lacking friends. Remember that this feeling is temporary and ubiquitous among first semester college freshman. You’re not alone, even if you do feel alone.

READ MORE to learn about 6 more lessons…

Rachel is a contributing Editorial Intern for Vault.com. She will be a sophomore this fall at Barnard College.

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