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Make Your First Year The Best It Can Be!


The summer before your freshman year in college is filled with apprehension, excitement, and nerves. People will give you college advice about how to be successful, including:

  • All the things you need for college
  • How to survive your first roommate experience
  • How to get on the dean's list your first semester

The best piece of advice about how to be successful in college is to follow a simple rule: take care of your business (i.e. schoolwork and extracurricular activities) 80% of the time and save 20% of your time for fun.

As long as you adhere to that rule (+/- 10% either way), you will find success. 

Step out of your Comfort Zone

Most people select their roommates now through social media set up by your college. Committing to a roommate can be terrifying. Just because you are scared you might room with someone you end up despising, don’t retreat to your comfort zone.

Don’t room with someone from home!

People from home will cause you to remain the person you were in high school rather than finding the person you are meant to be. Move out of your comfort zone and find someone new to room with. 

That Critical First Week of College

What you Shouldn’t Do

It can be tempting to blow off cheesy orientation meetings and floor games but those are the best places to bond with people; people who will ultimately become your friends and classmates.

What you Should Do

Leave your door open and get to know the people on your floor. Consider all orientation activities as part of the 80% of stuff you have to do. Go, be silly and make new friends. 

What to do 80% of the Time

There are distractions everywhere. 24/7, it may seem there are better options than going to class and studying. This is where the 80/20 rule becomes incredibly important.

How will you manage going to class and studying 80% of the time without missing out? 

Find a schedule that works for you. Are you a morning person? Schedule your classes for the morning. You will be more likely to go most of the time. Same for afternoon people.

Do you do your best writing and studying at 3am? Great! Be sure to sleep from 4-8pm, get some dinner, have some fun, and then hit the books. Check out this article for more in-depth tips on how to study smartly for your college courses.

Make your Presence Known in your Classes
Participate in class and get to know your professor. This helps to ensure that professors remember who you are when they grade your work. In classes that could house hundreds of students, it is important to connect your name with a face.

Sometimes the difference between a B+ and an A- is whether or not the professor knows what you look like. Take an hour every few weeks and pop into your professor’s office hours just to ask a question or two.

Remember. Those few interactions will be so important later on (think internships, scholarships, grades, and recommendations). 

Coffee Caramel Fudge Non-Dairy PintForm a study group with like-minded people. These groups might be people you live with or people in your classes, but this is a great way to getting your work down with getting social with your classmates.

Doing homework and studying is way more fun when it involves pizza and people! You won’t feel like everyone is having way more fun (they’re not) if you are with a group of people trying to get work done. 

College is a great opportunity to develop your social skills, so don’t let this opportunity slip by!

Got it. Now what is that other 20% I Hear so Much About?

The college social scene is very rarely like what you see in movies and that’s okay. You will find plenty of ways to spend your 20% of fun. The key here is to be open to new experiences while being safe and true to what makes you happy. 

Check out a college party. Be sure to bring a friend and be safe and smart about your decisions while at that party.

There are literally a hundred other things you could also do on a weekend night. Be open to all of those experiences, too, such as:

  • Checking out a performance on campus
  • Attending an art gallery opening
  • Going to a football game
  • Hosting a movie night with lots of ice cream and jammies. 

Spend your social time in ways that make you happy and doing things that recharge you. This is your time to let loose and enjoy yourself while also exploring and pushing your limits. 

College Life: Live, Learn, and Most Importantly, Enjoy!

College really can be the best four years of your life. College is also the time to learn how to live your best, balanced life. Remember why you are there and find the balance that works for you, making sure you make the most of your experience while there.

Enjoy your new adventure! 


Frank, T. (2015, March 17). 42 College Tips I Learned Freshman Year. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

Hansen, R. S. (n.d.). 25 Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year | Quintessential LiveCareer. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

Herman, L. (2014, June 11). 5 Truths about College Every Incoming Freshman Needs to Know. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

Johnson, J. (2011, August 4). Tips for surviving your first year in college. The Washington Post. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

Lytle, R. (2012, August 22). 10 Tips College Freshmen Should Know. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

Rinder, H. (2011, July 13). College Secrets You Need to Know Now! Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

Shirvell, B. (2013, August 23). The Advice I’d Give My College Freshman Self. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

White, H. (2016, May 31). 31 Things Every College Student Needs to Know. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from 

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