Surviving your freshman year of college

The first year of college is an eye-opener. Suddenly, there are plenty of activities and tasks to do and ample amounts of freedom available. Yet, you are also now paying significantly for your education. You need to make every dollar work for you. How can you balance it all and still survive that first year with success? It’s all about making the most out of each opportunity.

Manage Your Time Well

Time is your most valuable commodity when it comes to optimizing your first year in college. That is, you need to plan for each of the activities and events you hope to join.

Here are some tips to help you get started: 

  • Plan a schedule that fits your goals, but don’t overdo it. In this first semester, aim for 12 to 18 credit hours. More than this could lead to fast burnout.
  • Know when you work best. Are early morning classes really best for you? Are you most likely to skip class on a Friday afternoon? Choose class times where you’ll be most attentive and productive.
  • Keep a calendar. Use an app or a paper calendar. In all cases, keep some sort of organizer on hand to help you know what is due, what events are happening and what plans you made.

Get Social With Your Roommates

These are people you will need to live with and work with for the coming year. Invest a few minutes in awkward conversation right away. This way, you can begin to form a positive relationship with those who you will see the most.

It’s also important to get to know your roommates and set some boundaries. You may have a roommate agreement to consider. This is a type of contract that outlines what’s important to you — such as overnight guests, studying, bedtimes, and sharing of food and entertainment options.

Balancing Your Schedule

During your first few months, you’ll notice your workload is growing. It is important to invest wisely in managing your time here. For example, you’ll want to have a class schedule that fits your habits, as noted. However, block time for activities you need to do. This includes times for work and studying.

Also, be sure to plan for some fun, too. College freshmen often find there is a fine line between having too much fun and really enjoying their college years. If you manage your time well, you will have the ability to make it all work.


Suddenly, you need to learn how to budget. It probably wasn’t this hard living at home. However, it’s important to get your finances squared away from the start. It is easier to budget when you start at the beginning of your freshman year.

Consider the following suggestions:

  • Know how much you can spend each day on supplies and food. Create a daily budget, so you are always aware of your spending.
  • Learn where you can purchase textbooks. Often, you can find cost-saving options available to you. After the semester is over, you may be able to sell them back. This helps relieve some financial stress.
  • Watch for unexpected expenses. The more time you spend hanging out with friends, the more your costs will likely rise. Be mindful of your budget and how much you are spending.

Embrace and Enjoy New Experiences

This is the time of your life to really enjoy different experiences, people and lifestyles. Embrace these opportunities. For example, you may want to use some of your time to join a political, activist, religious or carrier-oriented group. You might explore other talents, such as the arts. You may want to just hang out with a few good, new friends, try some new foods, and take a trip or two together.

Use the services your school offers, too. This includes tutoring, writing centers, health facilities, fitness programs and much more. Embrace a higher quality of life and make it your own. When you attend college, you get to start the next chapter of your life. Don’t limit yourself. Instead, stay managed and focused so you can achieve more of what you want.