The first year of college is an anxiety inducing yet exciting time, filled with decisions and new experiences. Everything is new and the first few weeks are crucial. Everyone wants to find the place they feel they belong, their on campus family and their home away from home. It’s stressful, but everyone goes through it and the experience stays for a lifetime.
No one has a handbook with a way to ensure the perfect first year of college. Mistakes are guaranteed to happen and it’s hit-or- miss with classes, friendships, clubs and everything in between.
Personally, there are a few things I wish I knew — some things I wish someone would have told me — before the start of freshmen year of college.
Starting with the very first week of school — I wish I went to every single event Associated Students had for freshmen, and the school as a whole. I was too shy, too tired, too — any excuse possible — to go to Aztec Night events like the movie night, or to stay longer at the back to school dance. In retrospect, if I went to the movie night or stayed longer at the dance, I might have met a lot more new people the first week of school.
People say it’s important to join as many clubs as possible the first year of college — just like they probably said for freshman year of high school. Whether or not it was true in high school, it’s true in college. Joining as many clubs as possible can cater to a variety of interests. San Diego State has anything from the karate club to a lettuce club. Exploring interests in college is important — it helps gain perspective on who you are as a person as well as who is similar to you.
Joining Best Buddies — a club that allows members to interact and do activities with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities on a weekly basis — my first year of college was a decision I’m so happy with. I heard about the club in high school but never really had time to join. When I got to San Diego State, I figured it would be one of the first organizations I would join. It was so refreshing to go to this club and disconnect from other responsibilities and hang out with people that came from all around the San Diego community that are such genuine and kind human beings.
Join any club that seems interesting — it was something I’m so glad I did.
On the subject of finding people of similar interests, dorm life is a key aspect for that search. Each dorm is divided into sections or floors of people that have similar learning objectives or interests as one another. So chances are whichever dorm floor or section people are in, they’re likely to find others with similar interests or life goals in the room next door.
Another tip for the first week of school is to keep the dorm room door open. People tend to walk around and it’s the best way to meet neighbors and potential new friends. I kept my door open and walked around the hall the first week of school, and I met someone that later became one of my best friends who is now my roommate. So when the RAs say it’s a good idea to keep the doors open on the floor the first week or so, they know what they’re talking about.
The first year of college is one I would relive over and over again if I could. It’s a time to explore and a time when responsibilities just don’t feel as large. So enjoy this time, and take this hindsight into consideration. And remember — there is no second chance for a first (year) impression.