Yesterday marked the first day of my sophomore year of college…. I’m still trying to let that sink in.. I’m now in the awkward in-between of being an upper and lower classman by still feeling the excitement and anxiety similar to that of a freshman but also feeling the experience of those a few years above me. It’s hard to believe that just a year and 2 1/2 months ago I graduated from high school, followed by the start of my college career a few months later. I’m going into this year with a slightly different mindset than I did a year ago as a freshman, but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: trying my hardest and never giving up. I’m gonna really need to keep those in mind for the incoming year, or as those above me call it, the “sophomore year rut” haha. I’m not sure how it is for other majors out there, but for biomeds sophomore year is the absolute WORST. Not only are your classes getting harder, but it’s the year where you’re trying to finish up all of your pre-reqs and also trying to get more involved in the research community and getting prepared for the early steps of applying to med-school if you’re going into a pre-med concentration like me (definitely not looking forward to all of that stress…). I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work with a professor starting the summer prior to my freshman year and thanks to him, one year later I already have two research papers under my belt and am on my way to present at my first conference in October (EEP!!!).
Several of my friends are incoming freshmen this year and have come to me for advice. Most of their questions mainly consisting of: “what should I expect?”, “is the adjustment hard?”, or just simply “what am I supposed to do????”. So I figured, hey, why not try and share some things that I learned last year that helped me and maybe it’ll help some other people out there who are going through the same exact situation as I was last year! I hope this helps someone out there and makes their transition into the big, wide world of college a tad bit smoother 😉
1. GET A PLANNER. SERIOUSLY. YOU WILL THANK ME LATER.
Ok so fair warning, I’m that really annoying person at the beginning of the school year that has all of her stationary together and is super duper excited about the first day so I can get all of my class materials organized. Very nerdy, I know, but #noshame. I always had a planner with me, especially throughout high school, where I would write down all of my classes and the assignments ahead of time so I would know what to expect for the upcoming week. I was pretty much all in my lonesome when it came to planners at the time, but oh did the tides change when college came around. Unlike in high school, your teachers are not going to sit around and constantly remind you about your assignments and what to expect throughout the semester. Your teachers are going to either email you the syllabus or hand it out the first day of class, but one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to anyone is to write down the important dates in your planner. If you’re anything like me, I tend to become very forgetful especially when my schedule becomes very hectic (which is now always). You are a big kid now (unfortunately) and are expected to be on top of everything, a.k.a. ya gotta learn how to adult. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go as far as color-coding everything in a planner (*cough cough* like me), but using any form of planner whether it be a small one or an app on your phone it’ll definitely help you out so so much (especially with the adulting factor). And cut down on the “running around like a chicken with no head” dynamic. No one needs that chaos in their life.
2. You’ll be using your college email religiously, no joke.
Don’t make the same mistake I did my first fall semester and completely forget to check your email over the course of the entire summer until the night before😅 This will be the most important and most frequently used form of communication in college. Checking it religiously will be a new addition to your daily routine. This is where your teachers, clubs, and basically anything college related will contact you. And do NOT use your personal email for anything, especially when it comes to contacting your professors. All of my past professors have specifically told us the first day of class that if they get an email from a personal account they will completely ignore it. Same goes for organizations that you may apply to later in your college career for co-op opportunities or study abroad. Don’t tell me that if you were in their shoes you wouldn’t ignore an email from sassyprincess16 and not take any word they said seriously…(no offense). The last thing you want anyone to think when you’re inquiring about anything is that you’re not professional and not taking it seriously.
3. Step out of your comfort zone!
I’m usually a very out-going person, but whenever I’m thrown into a new environment, I tend to close myself off. That was something I realized that I needed to get myself out of if I ever hoped to meet new people and make new friends. So I told myself “Sammira, snap out of this, shake off the nerves, and GO TALK TO PEOPLE. GO. DO IT NOW.” Props to my conscience and my mother for “gently” forcing myself out of my comfort zone, because if it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have met many of my closest friends. If you’re going to be attending a college away from home, adjusting can be a difficult task at first! But by talking to people, you’ll not only meet a lot of your future college besties, but most likely some people that will be going through the exact situation as you are and can relate! But don’t forget to call your parents at least once a week. It’ll not only put a little ease on your stress, but also release a ton off of your parents! And they would definitely appreciate the effort and the reminder that you still keep them in mind throughout the college craziness.
Stepping out of your comfort zone also includes going out and joining as many clubs as you can! Freshman year is the time for you to experiment and try new things (that doesn’t mean slacking off though. That’s a big no no. Don’t be that person). One of the many pieces of advice I got last year was to join as many clubs as I could so that way I could weed out the ones that were just meh from the ones that I really wanted to continue being a part of. How else will you know which clubs you’ll enjoy if you don’t try them out first?? You can always drop out of them at the end of the year, and don’t let it scare you away! I promise they’re not going to hunt you down and force you to stay in the club haha. And I’ve come to know a lot of people several years older than me which is a BIG PLUS especially if you’re as clueless as I was my freshman year when it comes to classes. They can tell you who and what to take and not to take and if you’re lucky, they may even give you some of their old notes and tests *wink wink*.
4. BUY. USED. TEXTBOOKS. YOUR WALLET (or more likely your parents’ wallet) WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL.
One thing that definitely caught me off guard my first year was how HELLA EXPENSIVE TEXTBOOKS ARE! GEEZ!! I literally spent close to $900 just on textbooks my fall semester. I about died. If your future university is anything like mine, they’ll will find sneaky ways to get you out of buying them used. Many of my textbooks that first semester were “custom editions for the university ” that were “required” when only a few chapters were changed. Trust me when I say this: use your resources well. There are several facebook groups for my university where people buy and sell used textbooks for wayyyy cheaper than you would find it at the bookstore. Take advantage of this opportunity!! Amazon is another great resource for renting textbooks! They offer much cheaper prices and free return shipping at the end of the semester! Also, it’s best to wait until the first day of class to buy your textbooks. In the past, I’ve bought textbooks for classes ahead of time (because of the uber nerd that I am) and ended up not using it throughout the entire semester. Wait and ask your professor after class the first day and see if you really do use the book in class. That way you can spend your money wisely on the books that you actually really need.
That concludes my somewhat open letter to any upcoming college freshmen! Just remember to have fun but also stay on track and be responsible 😉 If you liked this post or if it helped you out in anyway, just leave your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to know😋