Freshman year of college is an entirely new experience, one replete with many highs and many lows. One of these lows is a new form of peer pressure that may be a little different than what one experienced in high school. For the first time in many people’s lives, they are on their own. This independence comes with a lot of benefits, but can also be potentially detrimental if not balanced well.
One of the virtues of independence is not having to work on anyone else’s schedule, which for some freshmen can be a tricky thing to balance. With no one checking on your every move, it might be easy to slip into a pattern of skipping classes, staying out late, and not doing the work you should. One reason a lot of these things happen is that friends and other external influences might try to convince you to engage in certain activities that might not be in your best interest. While some of these things might seem fun in the short term, the novelty will soon wear off and your academic well-being will suffer.
To avoid falling into this common situation freshman year, here are some wise moves to make.
1. Pick friends with similar interests
Try to find a group that has commonalities with yourself. Whether that is studying, sports, or anything else if you feel you share a common bond. Feeling like you “belong” is a great way to get acclimated to college. If you feel an urge to change your behavior or alter how you speak to fit in, that setting probably is not conducive to your success or well-being in college.
Additionally, if you find a group that cares about you, they won’t want to see you struggle or fail, which means that they will be completely understanding if you have to turn in early or not go out one night to prep for a big test.
2. Stay in some nights
In college there is something going on every night. While at first it might feel fun to try and experience it all, this can be overwhelming and actually diminish the enjoyment you get from each individual outing. If something that is normally exciting becomes routine, it can very easily lose its appeal. Additionally, if you are out every night it is very hard to excel in school and really succeed in a learning environment.
One way to cope with the constant pressure from friends and the atmosphere to go out is to designate certain nights as stay in nights. No matter what is going on, you have a deal with yourself to stay in and possibly get to bed early or catch up on some work. This enables you to keep a schedule and a good balance between school and fun, making each night you do go out that much better because it feels rewarding.
3. Get involved on campus
If you find something that you are passionate about that will keep you busy, you will most likely stay out of trouble. If it is an activity or sport, often your focus will motivate you to stay away from partying too hard so that your performance doesn’t suffer. Similarly with clubs that are more academic based, you will want to be rested and have a sharp mind to be part of the team or show your leadership. Getting involved on campus is a great way to stay busy and avoid peer pressures of your first year.
College is an incredible amount of fun, it is just about making sure you can temper the balance between all of the different pressures, and making sure that other people don’t run your own college experience.
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.