Freshman year is an exciting time. Students are finally out on their own enjoying new freedoms but also experiencing new stress. Freshmen seem to have the same questions every year about school, being involved, finding friends and much more.
Though Utah State University offers many resources for freshman to find answers to these questions, one of the best places freshmen can turn is to USU seniors who have experienced this stress before.
Andy Cook is one senior who stresses the importance of finding a balance between focusing on school and having fun at the same time.
“You don’t want to graduate college with only memories of studying in the library until midnight every night. Having fun is a huge part to your academic success,” Cook said.
To help students find time for their friends or hobbies, Cook encourages freshmen students to set aside specific times of the day to study.
Another common problem students deal with is roommates. There are a few important things that can be done to help ease tensions when roommates don’t get along, Cook said
One way is by being open and honest with roommates. This is an effective way to improve those relationships.
“Take sincere interest in your roommates’ lives,” he said. “Ask them about their job, their major, or their social life. Look for ways to help your roommates whether it’s comforting them after a rough day, or giving them a ride to school.”
When Megan Hartgraves was a freshman, her biggest fear was failing her classes.
“My first semester of college was rough and I didn’t do well. Study groups and plenty of coffee got me back on track,” she said.
Hartgraves encourages younger students to utilize the different resources that are available for help from the beginning. Among these resources are tutoring centers and the professor’s office hours.
“I didn’t start doing that until my junior year and I regret it,” Hartgraves said. “I was too scared to ask them for help with the information I didn’t understand. When I finally started, my grades were so much better.”
Hartgraves believes it is vital that students remember to believe in themselves and what they are capable of.
“Take some risks. Major in something you love,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be or what you should major in. If you love art, major in art. If you love English, major in English. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love to do,”
Finding friends and having a group of people to turn to is another essential key to college success, Cook said.
Cook’s advice for finding friends is to attend interesting clubs or activities.
“You’ll find people who have the same interests as you without having to leave your comfort zone too much,” he said. “Also, if your roommates invite you to do something, don’t be afraid to try it because you never know what could happen.”
Leaving her comfort zone and enjoying time with her friends was difficult at first for Kareena Hudson, another senior who knows what a struggle freshman year can be.
“I was most scared of the social aspect of college as far as being away from everyone I knew and everything that was familiar to me. I was very private my first couple of weeks of college and not super social,” she said.
Hudson quickly found out that her friends were not going to let her stay inside her shell. One night, her friends dragged her out of her dorm room and that made all the difference in the world.
“I was afraid of not being wanted or I had that fear of not being accepted by new friends. Don’t be afraid of that,” she said. “Ask to do things with other people. Go to the campus-sponsored activities. Try to make friends.
Hudson continued, “College is hard enough. Don’t try to do it without the support that comes from a circle of friends.”
Keeping stress levels down while continuing to work hard in school is also important for college success, Hudson said.
“When you are out and doing things and trying to have fun, the stress of school just melts away,” she said. “Have fun but work hard. College is a balancing act. Don’t get so caught up in one side of things that you let everything else fall away and be forgotten.”
As a final suggestion, Cook encourages the freshmen to do everything they can to learn from the challenges and experiences that they face throughout their college years.
“College life can be brutal emotionally and be very humbling,” he said. “However, it’s important to use these trials and mistakes as opportunities to grow and become a better person than you were before.”