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My First Week of Freshman Year

You might be wondering, “Is college anything like it is in the movies?” Well to tell you the truth, no it’s not. But it’s also not as horrible and terrifying as your high school teachers might be telling you. For me, I think it’s somewhere in the middle. College is really fun but the school work is obviously much harder than in high school. My first week was nothing like I thought it would be and it’s also nothing like college is for me now. Hopefully, my experiences will help you prepare yourself for your first few weeks and the rest of your college experience!

Fall Orientation

My actual first week of college consisted of horribly awkward orientation activities. Yes orientation is important, and yes I learned a lot going through it, but it was extremely exhausting. On the first day, I was put into an orientation group of about ten other people and we were asked to participate in countless ice breaker exercises of various intensities. I think it’s safe to say that most people, like myself, hate ice breakers. Throughout the week, we did many other activities to help us get used to campus and college life. Although my whole orientation experience was super awkward, it was really informative and it was a real bonding experience for our freshman class.

The friends I made during orientation really helped soothe some of the unease everyone was feeling. These are the people I walked to and from activities with and hung out with outside of orientation. While I don’t really hang out with those same people anymore, I am grateful for the company they gave me during my orientation experience. They helped me feel like I wasn’t enduring this strange new experience alone, and they were the first friends I made in college which was exciting.

First Week of Classes

My first week of classes was very different from my first week of orientation. I was excited to finally attend my first classes and feel like I was a real college student. Although the first college class you attend can be a little stressful, it’s exciting because it’s a completely new experience. The first class I went to on my first day was Psych 101, and I remember being so nervous that I couldn’t eat breakfast that morning and my stomach was growling through the whole class. It was super embarrassing! Thinking back now, I really had no reason to be nervous because the class was really fun and I loved my professor.

Something I learned my first week was that college classes are NOTHING like high school classes. First of all, you have so much more time on your hands. You don’t have to wake up as early and you aren’t in class for as long. Yes, they are much more challenging academically than high school classes but they are a little less demanding timewise. As a freshman, I had a shorter schedule than the upperclassmen so that it was easier for me to get acclimated to my new college life. This helped because it made the whole experience a little less overwhelming.

What I Wish I Would’ve Known

  • Channel your inner extrovert during orientation because this is your first chance to make friends. Even if you aren’t extroverted, try to put yourself out there. Making friends may make the orientation process a little less painful. Although making friends early on is helpful, the friends I made during my first few weeks of school didn’t stick. I made the friends I have now through getting involved on campus and in classes, so if you’re too shy during orientation, you’ll have so many more opportunities to make those lifelong friends! These might just be temporary friends, so don’t stress if they come and go.
  • College is very different from high school.
    • Most of my teachers tried to scare us into believing that professors are so much scarier and stricter than they really are.
    • My teachers used to say things like “that's really not going to slide in college” or “professors aren't going to accept this level of work when you're in college,” but this is just not true.
    • This varies by institution and class, but in my experience, most professors are much more laid back than you might think. Most of my professors have let me hand things in late if I let them know that I’m going to need more time, and I don’t try and do it all the time.
    • As long as you get your work done and you communicate with them, they are going to be happy.
    • My professors my freshman year were really encouraging and understanding of how the first week of classes can be overwhelming, and they made sure to reassure the freshmen in the class.
  • Remember that all of the other freshmen are also going through the same experiences as you, so don’t feel alone! Everyone is trying to make friends and nobody really knows what they are doing either, even if they make it seem like they have their life together—they really don’t.

While going to college can seem like an exciting new chapter in your life, I know that it can be a little daunting when you don’t know what to expect. College is supposed to be the best years of your life, so if your first few weeks are confusing and stressful—don’t let that keep you from making the best of the awkward times. Remember, the other freshmen are probably feeling just as stressed and confused as you are!

Maggie is an editorial intern at Potential magazine and a senior English major at Birmingham Southern College. She enjoys reading and writing articles and blogs and is excited to share some of her college experiences with Potential readers.

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