The first semester of college is one of the most unique experiences in the world. For many students, it is their first time living on their own. There are a ton of new opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom. For many, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the incredible events and offerings at their school. While there is no way to fully prevent that feeling, here are three things to focus on in the first semester to make sure you are taking advantage of your first year at school.
1. Keep Your Dorm Room Open. The people who live on your floor may become some of your best friends freshman year! Studies show that proximity is one of the best catalysts for friendships, and seeing people all day, every day, is a great way to make some of your closest friends in college. Be friendly and outgoing in the first semester and try to say yes to as many social events as possible. This doesn’t mean leaving your door open and throwing a party the night before a big midterm, but being around and willing to hang out with your floor mates. This is a great way to build lasting memories.
2. Sit In The Front Of The Class. Many students worry about coming off as over eager at the start of college—this is a mistake. The point of higher education is to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. The best way to learn in class is to stay active and engaged. College isn’t like high school—you don’t necessarily have to show up to excel. In fact, many students coast through college just fine, showing up occasionally to class and sticking to their laptops and phones instead of listening to the professor lecture. While you would probably be just fine doing that as well, that type of behavior is robbing you of tremendous educational opportunities and experiences. There are world class experts at every college that you have the opportunity to learn from. Sitting in the front row ensures that you will participate in class. This doesn’t mean shouting out every answer, but rather making sure you attend class every week and stay off of your phone. Short term, actually paying attention in class can be tough, but long term it will ensure your years in college, in terms of academic learning, don’t go to waste.
3. Sign Up For Clubs. The first semester of college is the perfect time to explore the various extracurricular activities that interest you. Many students will follow the trajectory of their high school interests and plunge into the school newspaper or student government. Others will set off on entirely new paths and pursue new areas of passion. Whatever the case, going to the club fair is a great way to find small communities on campus that share similar interest with you. Be aware though, while it may seem like a good idea to try and join every interesting group on campus, this is not the way to go. Over extending yourself the first semester in college is a common mistake and one that can backfire in a major way. Make sure not to put too much on your plate too early, but find balance and join a few clubs where you feel you may find new friends and nourish one of your passions.
There are many more things you can, and should do, to make your first semester on campus incredible. These are just a few to consider that will benefit your college experience. Have a great first year!
Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.