Freshman year is filled with unique challenges and experiences. And between failed tests and failed friendships, everything doesn't always go as planned. But freshman year is also filled with facing those challenges head-on and having some amazing experiences in the process. After a year, it's nice to be able to reflect on what you learned to make the next year even better.
We asked some of our writers what they learned their first year of college, and this is what they had to say:
1. Hanna Kang | Mt. San Antonio College | Contributing Writer
College isn't about the name of where you go at all. It's so much better in every way possible to attend a lower-tier university and love it than to be unhappy at a prestigious one. Prestige is really just another word.
2. Beth Abbott | Barnard College | Staff Writer
I learned a lot of things, but the most important one is that college is a time to experiment. It took me a while to realize that college is not even close to the same as high school; you have an opportunity to take the classes that you are interested in, at the times that works best for you. Also, you are free to be yourself and no one else. Once I let go all of my high school anxiety habits, like going for every last A, I found my element and my best self.
3. Angela Tricarico | University of New Haven | Staff Writer
Everything is less boring when you're being creative.
4. Olivia Laskowski | Northeastern University | Editor-in-Chief, Fresh U Northeastern
We all have different experiences, and they're so worth sharing. You can learn so much in the classroom and on your campus but it is equally important to hear what other campuses are learning and what other students' perspectives are.
5. Reggie Wimbley | Case Western Reserve University | Contributing Writer
Identify your passions and follow them, don't waste your time doing something you don't what to do.
6. Megan Choate | Syracuse University | Staff Writer
College is lonely at first. You will want to cling to the first group of people you meet at orientation. Don't. Wait for the people who lift you up, make you laugh, push you to be better, and love you for all that you are. Life's too short to settle for anything less.
7. Stanley Shaw | UC Berkeley | Editor-in-Chief, Fresh U Berkeley
Laundry tip: wash cold, dry medium.
8. Bianca D'Agostino | University of Connecticut | Staff Writer
You have to be fearless. If someone offers you an opportunity to join a club, do an assignment, or just eat lunch with them, take it. If I hadn't taken chances, I wouldn't have taken my public speaking class which is my favorite one yet, met a friend that introduced me into my school's student television program on campus that I was sure I wasn't going to join because it was "not for me." Take risks and every opportunity you can.
9. Paola Songeur | New York University | Contributing writer
I learned about myself and my self worth. I learned about my good qualities, I learned about my shortcomings, and I learned to love myself for both.
10. Ikechi Ihemeson | Northwestern University | Contributing Writer, Fresh U Northwestern
Something that it's taken me a while to realize is that it's not just what you know, it's who you know. And in some cases, who you know is more important. That doesn't just have to do with making connections for that killer summer internship. It's about sharing genuine bonds and forming friendships that carry substance beyond what your name is, where you're from, and what you're majoring in. And I know we're here for an education (whatever you want to call that) and grades are important, but I've learned the most from those who have become my closest friends, my brother, my second family, and the experiences I've shared with them.
11. Jaclyn Imai | University of Southern California | Staff Writer
Don't be so caught up in the rush of things that you forget to enjoy the little, everyday moments.
12. Adrianna Stallworth | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Campus Life Editor and Social Media Director, Fresh U UNC
I learned to take risks. Someone I work with told me to aim big, because the worst thing that is going to happen is that I won't get what I wanted.
13. Jayde Anzola | Purdue University | Contributing Writer
I learned that college is just a bunch of new adults figuring out how to adult together whole surviving on cheap pizza and greasy French fries. We really were all in this together, and I learned there's always someone you can lean on, no matter the situation.
14. Kate Brennan | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Contributing writer
Set ground rules with your roommate before you move in and address problems as soon as they arise. As awkward as it is, you'll thank yourself later.
15. Jonny Lee | University of Southern California | Campus Publisher, Fresh U USC
A's get baes until you get to college where you get neither A's nor baes.
16. McKenna Blair | University of Missouri-Columbia | Sports Editor, Fresh U Mizzou; Contributing Writer, Fresh U National
Confidence is everything. If you want to know someone's name, ask. If you want to explore that building, do it. If you want to go to that party, go! Just explore with your mind open and cool things will start to happen.
17. Jade Miller | University of Rochester | Contributing Writer and Web Editor
I learned that you really have to be yourself to get what you want here. It's easy to pretend to be someone because you get to recreate yourself, almost, but you have to remember that there's more to you than trying to make friends. No matter what you do in college, where you end up, if you're not true to who you are, you're not going to get far. That's the easiest way to be accepted. Be yourself. Even if you think people will hate that version of you, because to be honest, people will not hate that version of you.
18. Kassidy Tarala | University of Minnesota Twin Cities | Contributing Writer, Fresh U UMN
Mom's always right.
19. Paige Springman | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Contributing writer, Fresh U UNC
I learned who I am. It's a stereotypical answer, I know, but a lot has happened this year that has changed my perception of myself. I struggled with anxiety throughout high school, and this year I finally got help and was able to see myself without anxiety, and discover who I really am. I thought I was going to go to medical school and that my dream was to start the zombie apocalypse, but I discovered that my true passion lies within education, and that I want to be the woman who improves the quality of public education. My first year at college has taught me who I was truly meant to be, and my true purpose in life. It's like I got to meet myself for the first time.
20. Olivia Faulkner | Marymount Manhattan College | Social Media Editor, Fresh U Marymount; Contributing Writer, Fresh U National
No matter how hard things may get, you can always get through anything with determination and tenacity.
21. Nicki Kaplan | Northwestern University | Campus Publisher, Fresh U Northwestern
Time is extremely precious. Use it well.
22. La'Kay Hodge | New York University | Contributing Writer
We regret the chances we don't take more than the ones that we do.
23. Ariana Ceja Sotelo | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Campus Publisher, Fresh U UNC
"Adulting" is difficult and I don't know how to do it properly yet, but I learned it takes a lot of practice to get it right.
24. Parth Shah | Northeastern University | Contributing Writer and Social Media Director, Fresh U Northeastern; Contributing Writer, Fresh U National
If you want to get the most out of your first year, you need to put yourself out there. Be confident in who you are and remember that everyone is feeling the same insecurities you are. Don't be afraid to try something new - you never know what you'll fall in love with.
25. Samantha Baugh | New York University | Contributing Writer and Web Editor
You are more likely to be run over by a bike than a car.
26. Melissa Cordell | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Editor-in-Chief, Fresh U UNC
Paying for your own food sucks.
27. Emily A. Perry | Rhodes College | Community Manager
Everyone needs to become comfortable with being uncomfortable
28. Megan Falk | Syracuse University | Managing Editor, Fresh U Syracuse
You can stay best friends with your best friend from high school. Even though you are at a new, exciting school, you don't need to drop all of the ties you have to your old friends. There seems to be a common idea that college is where you create a new life. It's where you make your closest friends and figure out what you want in life. But that isn't always the case, and it doesn't have to be. You are allowed to FaceTime your best friend every Saturday or text them every day. You don't have to replace them with someone you've only known for a month or two. Don't forget who has always been there for you and always will be.
29. Nabeela Nujhat | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Campus News Editor, Fresh U UNC
How to manage my time.
30. Kyra Meister | Syracuse University | Staff writer
Sometimes all it takes to make you feel better after a long or stressful day is a call home.
31. Jocelyn Moran | San Diego State University | Contributing Writer
It's okay to not know what the future holds and feel lost. Every day is an opportunity for learning and growth, and every day, we build the person we aim at becoming.
32. Elaine | Rhode Island School of Design | Contributing Writer
No one remembers names at social events. So if anyone asks you what your name is, say "you'll see" and maybe they will, maybe they won't.
33. Kyle LaHucik | University of Missouri–Columbia | Editor-in-Chief, Fresh U Mizzou
Learning has always been one of the most important facets in my life. When I came to college, I expected to learn a lot in the classroom. I have. But, as a freshman, I have realized that education usually is most profound when you learn outside of the classroom, through hands-on, in-person experiences. Going on a Mizzou Alternative Breaks trip, seeing the Concerned Student 1950 demonstrations firsthand and participating in campus organizations have been the true indicators of my personal and educational growth this year.
34. Sarah Franzetti | Marist College | Contributing Writer
You CAN be the person you dream of being.
35. Alexa Marzina | University of Pittsburgh | Contributing Writer and Web editor
Happiness is the end goal of everything. If you know something isn't going to make you happy in the long run, don't do it.
36. Dennis Williams | New York University | Editor-in-Chief, Fresh U NYU
How to embrace your independence, even if you don't like doing things alone.
37. Kiara Joseph | Northwestern University | Staff Writer and Social Media Editor, Fresh U Northwestern
Your struggles are not unique. For every problem you have, someone will be struggling with something similar. Don't be afraid to reach out. Anyone who judges you for asking for help is not worth your time.
38. Kristine Klein | Syracuse University | Editor-in-Chief, Fresh U Syracuse
How to do my laundry!!
39. Samantha R.A. | New York University | Contributing Writer, Fresh U NYU
Eating alone is completely fine and everyone does it! People have different schedules so working around it is difficult.
40. Katie Coryell | Marymount Manhattan College | Co-Editor-In-Chief, Fresh U Marymount
The things you want - your goals, passions and future life - will change through discovering yourself and the experiences you have. But don't worry, they change for the better! (And remember: Don't panic. You still have a whole lot more time to figure it all out.)
41. Mia Cole | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Senior Editor
Studying is a 7-days-a-week ordeal.
42. Tamira Amin | University of Minnesota Twin Cities | Editor-in-Chief, Fresh U UMN
Learning how to say no to things. On campus there are literally five or six different events happening on any given day. Sometimes, you just need to say no to that cool lecture series or group hangout because of this paper or that exam. You can always plan your homework around specific things you really want to go to in advance, but with everything at your fingertips in college, learning self-control is so so so important to a passing grade.
43. Taylor Lang | Syracuse University | News and Multimedia Director
I learned to always put my heart, soul, and passion into everything that I do. There are so many opportunities that come when you put your all into the things that make you happy.
44. Emma Karlok | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Contributing Writer, Fresh U UNC
It's okay to go places alone and to do things alone – you aren't missing out on everything. Alone time is so so so much more critical in college, especially since you're around people 24/7 if you're living in a residence hall.
45. Sunny Davis | University of Rhode Island | Assistant Social Media Director, Social Curator, and Tumblr Social Media Editor
I have learned that you cannot force things to happen. You just have to let things fall into place and enjoy yourself throughout the roller coaster that is freshmen year. You will experience a wide range of emotions; from happiness, to freedom, to sadness, to longing. Just remember that this is normal. Not everyone meets their forever friend on the first day of college. Just enjoy the people you are with and remember that if you don't enjoy someone's company, just remove yourself from it. No one is forcing you to be friends with anyone. Also, a great way to make friends, and a necessity in college is to join clubs. Join things and do things. If you do not, it will be boring. But overall, just enjoy yourself, learn a lot, and experience life.
46. Jeremy Salley | University of Bridgeport (Transferring from there) | Staff Writer and Social Curator
Don't ever clap for the wrong reasons. Do you and it will be alright.
47. Sydney Hamilton | American University | Contributing Writer
Don't be fooled by how smart some of your classmates sound. At the end of the day, they too still wonder what language dogs think in.
- To the class of 2019: Congratulations on making it through your first year of college.
- To the class of 2020: It's your turn.
- Lead Image Credit: Drew Osumi