5 ways for students to make the most of their first year of college

Press Gazette contributor

When you hear people talk about the best years of their life, college will inevitably come up. After all, these are the years when you can first experience the freedom of living on your own and the time when your future will truly be what you make of it.

It all starts with your freshman year and that can be a little nerve-wracking for some students and parents.

While the opportunities available in college are exciting, the freedom can be stressful as well. Whether you are a student planning your freshman year or you’re a parent looking to prepare your child for the road ahead, here are five tips to make the most of the first of these best years.

  • Never turn down a chance to make a connection. This is paramount, of course, with friend groups but it also matters with your professors and teaching assistants. If a professor, for example, teaches in the field you plan to major in, you may have them several times, and when you come closer to graduation, they could be integral in helping you land an internship or even your first job.
  • Get a lift. College is already expensive and the last thing you need is the expense of a car. Instead of spending all your free time working to pay for things like gas or insurance, use a ride-hailing service to get off campus.
  • Take a part-time job in a field that interests you. If you don’t have a definitive answer to the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” — and few freshmen do — then your first year of college is a great time to start narrowing that down. Take a job related to a field that interests you and use it to learn more about the industry and the roles you may hope to attain with your degree. It’s a great way to sample the field without committing to it.
  • Join a club sport or activity. If you’re looking to make new friends and feel like part of a team at your new school, joining a club sport or activity is a great way to do it. You can use the opportunity to continue a high school passion or to learn something completely new — just look for something that will be new to most other people as well. Either way, it’s a great chance to meet and bond with new people that share your common interest.
  • Embrace who you are. Trying new things is one of the best aspects of going to college, but don’t let those new opportunities sacrifice who you really are. Stay true to your values and your passions and you’ll find the friends, activities and courses that match what you want to get out of college now and in the years ahead.