top of page

Setting Yourself Up for a Successful First Year of College

It’s normal to feel anxious about your first year of college, whether you’re attending as a freshman or transferring in as a junior. While there’s no way to completely alleviate your stress, there are many things you can do to survive and thrive in college. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of your experience in college and set yourself up for success throughout your academic career.

Join a Student Organization

There are thousands of student organizations on college campuses all across America. You can find groups for just about anything—all you have to do is go searching! These groups provide great opportunities for both professional and personal development, and they also help you get to know other students. With clubs like these, there’s no way your first year can be boring!

To find clubs on your campus, you can search for them online and learn about what they do. Once you find some that sound interesting, reach out directly to one or two members and ask them a few questions. If it seems like a good fit, sign up and start getting involved! You can also check with your school’s student activities department or student union. Some schools even have resources in place that help new students get started with clubs—just ask around!

Choose Your Schedule Wisely

Remember as a member of a team and student-athlete, it is important that you set up your schedule for success. You need to take in consideration: practices, workouts, study time, meals, work and any other activities that you may want to be apart of. Your goal should be for you to set up your schedule in a way that fits your lifestyle, priorities, and commitments.

For example, if you are NOT a morning person... I highly suggest NOT committing to an 8:00 AM class unless it is your only option. If you have practices late at night (after 6:00 PM) maybe scheduling that night class at 7:30 PM is not a great option for you.

You should also consider your mental health. Just because you are in college does not mean that you should stop taking care of yourself and making sure that you feel good mentally and physically. Taking time for yourself each day is important.

Choose Your Classes Wisely

Pick your classes wisely. Choosing electives that interest you may seem like a fun way to fill up your schedule, but you’ll often end up with a bunch of required credits that don’t really apply to your major. Instead, choose one or two (depending on how many hours you’re taking) classes that count toward your degree.

But don’t just limit yourself to classes that you need for your major. Take at least one course in an area that interests you outside of your degree program. This can help you decide if it’s something worth pursuing, or it can expose you to a new interest that could become a valuable second major. Second majors aren’t required, but they will give you more career options and allow employers to see how versatile you are.

Be Open-Minded

To move forward in your first year, you also should be open-minded. When you walk onto a college campus, it can be easy to get caught up in what everybody else seems to be doing. While it’s true that you should have some degree of direction about where you want your life to go, don’t let yourself feel too boxed in by preconceived notions.

You should go into college with a relatively clear idea about what you want to study. If your degree path isn’t set in stone, though, don’t let yourself get stuck on it. Use your first year at school as an opportunity to explore different interests and find out more about who you are as a person. In fact, most successful people report that they had no idea what they wanted to do with their lives until much later in life—some didn’t even decide until graduate school!


Going to college is an adventure. It’s your first time away from home, you’re with new people and you have a new schedule. Give yourself time to adjust and enjoy the excitement. Take each day one at a time, don’t look too far ahead and try not to stress over it—this will help you make the most of each moment and will prepare you for what’s ahead.

There will be classes you love and others that you hate, days when your roommate annoys you and times when you want nothing more than to see your family. It’s easy to get caught up in all of these feelings, but keep them in perspective. You’re away from home on a great adventure and it is an exciting time.


bottom of page