Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

When I was in high school, college felt like centuries away. I remember sitting in class one day thinking that high school would never end. However, here I am today: a college student! After my first semester of college, this is all I can really say: wow. College has been such a great learning experience for me. Although there were a few bumps along the way, those experiences have helped me move forward and make the college experience something I’ll always remember for a lifetime.

The Transition

Moving from Texas to Massachusetts, I was obviously concerned about how well I would adjust to a different environment. Being far away from the people I cared about was the most difficult part because I was so used to seeing these people almost every day. However, once I stepped on campus I realized that the first few weeks was the real test of whether or not I would adjust well. Since I had orientation a week before the start of classes, it was the best opportunity to go out and meet people without feeling extremely awkward. I found out soon enough that most people adjusted moderately well, less the temporary homesickness almost everyone felt the first few weeks. If you’re feeling a little uneasy the first few weeks of school, don’t worry: many others feel the same way.

One of the biggest challenges for me other than not seeing the people I care about was balancing my time. In comparison to high school, you have a lot more free time, which can be both good and bad. Sometimes you feel tempted to sit back and relax, but then you come to realize that keeping busy is one of the best ways to fill up your time.

The first few weeks weren’t as bad as I thought, but I learned that time and patience was necessary to find that “perfect” feeling. Everything may not fall into place as quickly as you’d like, but experimenting with different things will help you find your way through your freshman fall. After all, freshman fall is sort of that awkward period of trying everything out (just as it was in high school), so don’t feel too discouraged if things don’t work out well.

Dorm Life

I may be biased due to the fact that I live in a single, but I love dorm life! Living in the dorms to me feel like a nice intermediate for independence. You’re not living there forever, but you’re not there for a short period of time. I think this is one of the best indicators of whether or not you can live independently, because without the people you live with you’re pretty much on your own here. While you might not be completely independent, living in the dorms is a great transition to life after graduation. Learning to live on your own is important because some of you might not be back at home after graduation!

I don’t have too much experience with roommates, but make sure you choose your roommate(s) wisely (if you can). While it can be great to live with them, sometimes things can get out of hand and if communication isn’t at least somewhat established in the beginning problems are going to be a lot harder to resolve later into the semester. Nothing can be more disheartening than to see some of your stuff “mysteriously” disappear.


You’re probably thinking college classes are much harder than high school classes. Well, I would have to say it depends. Based on the classes you took in high school and what classes you decide to take your freshman year, you may feel like college is either hard or easy. I know some people took lower-level courses to ease into college classes while I know others who took much more difficult courses to challenge themselves.

My advice? Evaluate yourself, and honestly, if you feel like you’re not ready for Calculus 3, take Calculus 2. If you’re feeling a little daring, go ahead and take Calculus 3. However, take into consideration about the add/drop policy your school has. Is it easy to switch out of classes early into the semester? If so, is there any penalty you’ll incur? I took advantage of my college’s add/drop policy and switched out of a class that I almost immediately found was too difficult for me.

In addition, college is the right time to explore all of your possible interests. Even if you’re unsure or set on your field of study, give yourself the opportunity to take a class you might be potentially interested in because keeping your mind open will help guide you to what you really enjoy learning. Your college experience doesn’t have to focus all on one thing. Instead, having a diverse variety of classes makes college much more interesting!

Social Life

You’re in college now: time to meet new people! Even if there’s some people from your high school going to the same college, try not to be tempted to hang out with them too much. Maintaining friendships is important, but don’t forget that you’re in college too! Orientation was a great way for me to meet new people because it’s that time where it doesn’t feel as awkward to walk up to someone and start up a conversation.

However, even as you go through the semester you’ll find that the people in your classes (in addition to your roommates, if applicable) will probably be the people you hang out with the most. Whether it’s working late on homework and furiously cramming for an exam (which I do NOT recommend), you’ll likely find at least one person that you can talk with.

As an introvert I had a little trouble meeting people within the first few weeks, but I eventually was able to find a certain group of people I could hang out with. It may seem hard the first few weeks (especially if you’re an introvert and/or shy), but if you make the honest effort in meeting and talking with people you’ll find the right group of people for you.

Clubs and Activities

Going into college I thought I was going to be “that guy” who would study hours on end and never have a life outside of school. I was wrong, partly due to the fact that I went stir crazy after a few weeks of living like a hermit. Remember, college isn’t all about academics! I had this keen idea of working endlessly and aiming for the highest grade possible, but for most people that actually doesn’t work. Instead of filling your entire time with studying, join clubs and activities that interest you! They don’t need to necessarily be associated with your field of study because even as employers search for relevant work experience they’ll also look for your other interests. Don’t let college be a time of work, work, and more work. Instead dedicate some time to things you enjoy because if you always work you’ll only tire and stress yourself more than you need to.

Freshman Fall: Complete

Let me say this: high school is nothing like college. While high school had its nice, memorable moments, college is definitely a step up. College has given me the freedom to explore the world around me by meeting new people and learning from my different classes. College is harder for me, but the experiences I’ve made thus far are those that I’ll carry with me forever.

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the author

Raised in the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Eric Po is a freshman at Harvard University studying Economics. He loves listening to country music (particularly Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley), but you can’t blame him; he’s a Texan after all! He also enjoys outdoor activities, including soccer, running, and Ultimate. While he’s not sweating outside in the heat, Eric enjoys volunteering for nonprofit organizations that work with youth. Although he hopes to be a financial analyst in the future, he eventually wants to work with students as a counselor.

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  1. HDL on January 5, 2014

    Lovely article with solid advice. As a fellow classmate (oh right, hi fellow classmate), I can definitely relate with what you mention. Thanks for writing this and I’m interested to read more of your posts in the future!

    • Eric Po Author on January 21, 2014

      Hello fellow classmate! I’m sorry for replying to this so late, but I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

  2. Lisa Lieder on August 3, 2016

    Thanks for the advice. My daughter is just leaving for college. I found this very helpful to read together.

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