Advice for College Freshmen: 8 Things To Know Before You Go

My first year in college was an interesting one; I can’t say I was prepared for it but a few stories and pieces of advice from my sister and cousins gave me an idea of what to expect.

As a college freshman, you’re going to be exposed to a completely new way of life, one that you may not be prepared for. Not everyone is surrounded by people that can help prepare you for college life.

If that’s you, don’t worry. My hope is that after reading this you will feel more prepared for college, so listen up!

Set Goals for Yourself

“You need to set long and short term goals. If you don’t set a goal for yourself then you have nothing to look forward to. Goals help you stay motivated to finish what you start so do your best to achieve those goals. Also, party hard you only go through college once.” – Brandon Maty, Senior at Sacramento State University

I cannot stress this enough, set goals for yourself, both long and short term. It really keeps you going and working towards something. In college, it’s so easy to get distracted or frustrated. By keeping short term goals, it prevents you from getting too distracted, but these goals also serve as stepping stones to accomplishing your long-term goals.

Get Enough Sleep

“Life’s too short to be tired and bitter so get a lot of rest. All-nighters are overrated.” –Mercy Rosario, Graduate from The Art Institute of California-Sacramento

Seriously you guys, stock up on your Z’s. All-nighters don’t exactly help you, if anything they hurt you. You aren’t going to be able to focus or retain information if you’re eyes are heavy. There are 24 hours in a day, so just separate your time accordingly and make sure you are setting aside enough time to rest. You can’t do your best unless you’re at your best.


“Take advantage of as many networking opportunities as you can. The people you meet at internships or when you’re out volunteering can be extremely influential in where you end up after graduation.” –Kiah Baker, Senior at UC Davis

Colleges also offer career fairs and club fairs. Go to all of these! Even if you aren’t looking for a job yet, by going to career fairs and talking to people who work in your field of interest not only are you getting your name and resume out there, but you’re also learning about the career you’re interested in. Club fairs are great too, by participating in a club not only are you given the opportunity to try something new, but you are meeting a lot of great people on your campus that you may not have met otherwise.

Get an Internship

“My best advice would be to do an internship. It will give you a good idea of whether or not you like your major and want to pursue a career in it.”- Ashley Westmoreland, Graduate from Sonoma State University

Definitely do an internship, in fact, try a few different internships; not only does it give you more things to put down on your resume, but it helps you expand your network and meet a bunch of people in the career field that you’re interested in. One piece of advice I received from the News Director at my last internship was “Be nosy and ask questions.” An internship is there to benefit YOU, so be pro-active and dig out as much information as you can. Participate in whatever you can and if you don’t understand something, ask questions until you do.

Keep Your Door Open

“The best advice I got was to leave your dorm room open. Everybody is trying to meet new people freshman year so it is a great way to meet new people who you would have never expected to meet” –Ryan O’Holleran, Senior at UC Davis

Dorm living is one of the things I missed out on by choosing to go to a community college. I remember visiting my friends at their schools during freshman year and being so jealous because they literally knew everyone in their dormitory. Leave the door to your dorm room open while you’re in it! Everyone in your dormitory is just as new as you and are all looking to meet people too.

Everyone Makes Mistakes

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. College isn’t a place for perfection but a place of learning. Push yourself, take chances, and think outside the box.” – Nicholas Townes, Senior at Concordia University, Irvine

This is so important! Don’t beat yourself up when something goes wrong. You’re in college to learn both in and out of the classroom. Things aren’t always going to go right. While college is going to be the ultimate test of your independence, don’t be too prideful, you also need to learn to lean on your friends, teachers, and even your family.  Also, don’t live in a bubble. Take advantage of all the opportunities that college presents; try new things and meet new people.

General Advice

  • “Don’t be stupid: Learn and contribute. Don’t make meeting you a waste of time.” –Aaron Slavik
  • “You get as much as you put into it” –Samantha Gagne
  • “Talk to your advisors constantly don’t wait till it’s too late” –Samantha Grant
  • “Plan early and have back up plans. Just in case! Especially when it comes to classes” – Molly Marrone
  • “Get involved in campus and events but don’t stress yourself too thin so you can’t be a valuable resource” – Jessica Tarchala

My Advice to You

I have a few cousins in high school, and the idea of them going off to college with no preparation scares me! To all of you who are planning on attending college, here’s my advice to you.

  • When it comes time for you to move into your own apartment, be smart with you decide to live with and talk about everything BEFORE you move in together: Rent, cable/internet, food, visitors, cleanliness, decorating.
  • Be open to meeting new people, but be careful when choosing your close friends. My best friends are awesome, we trust each other completely and we literally do everything together. But be wary of people you meet that have different motives. Be open to trusting people but ease into it.
  • Try new things! If you’ve always been curious about Greek life, go through Rush or Recruitment, if you decide it’s not for you then at least you know! If you’ve always wanted to take a martial arts class, or a sculpting class, or a swing dancing class, sign up! When are you going to have the opportunity to take these courses again? Sure, your community probably offers classes like these, but if you take them in college you will be surrounded by people your age who are probably just as new to the experience as you are.
  • Be safe. While it’s fun to go out with your friends and be social but don’t be naïve. Keep your doors locked ALL THE TIME, don’t get in a car with strangers, always have a designated driver, and always tell people where you’re going.

Have a great time, and make your time in college the best years of your life! I know I’m going to look back on my college experience with no regrets, hopefully you will too.

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Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty is a Senior at the University of California, Davis. After graduating in June she hopes to find or invent a career that will utilize her love for writing, spending money and making people laugh. In her spare time you can find her crafting things off of Pinterest, swimming, line-dancing or watching re-runs of “Friends.”