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The First Year of College

Updated on August 18, 2014


Most universities have an orientation for two or more days for all new students. These orientations feature a variety of activities to prepare for college including an abundance of meetings, activities to help make new friends, and possibly staying in a dorm for those moving away to attend college. All of the meetings help answer many of questions for new students like what kinds of activities help students get involved, what dorm life is like, and other opportunities the university has to offer.

But what else is there to expect from college?

Being Away From Home

This section is for students who move away from home to attend a university. This does not include the people who move fifteen minutes away and can return to mom as often as they want. This includes those who move two or more hours away from home. If one falls ill, he or she will have to buy medicine and visit the doctor's office. There will be no one there to ensure one is doing homework and going to class on time. Laundry will need to be done, and cleaning will be necessary. Starting college creates a new level of responsibility, and students must be prepared to take it.


While a university brings responsibility, it also brings freedom to new students. Of course, a major topic associated with college is partying, and a great number of college students do attend parties. With most of the people at parties being the age of 21 and up, there will be alcohol and many people intoxicated. If going to parties is a student's desire, one must decide how to act, whether it be just to socialize or to have a great time while drinking alcohol. This may not be a problem, since most new students have just graduated from high school and are not 21 yet. All parties will be different, but there are many ways a party can cause students to make bad decisions.

The video to the right is a girl giving points to consider while going to parties in college and describing her own experiences while at the parties.


Being a college student can be difficult, and universities are demanding when ensuring their students are receiving a quality education. Although the first year is not the most difficult, students must be prepared to invest a great amount of time into homework and studying, especially if the goal is to receive good grades. This becomes more demanding as students progress through their degree programs.



Becoming Familiar With New Surroundings

Sometimes a new campus can be a little overwhelming at first and can leave students feeling a little intimidated or nervous. This can also pertain to living in a new city as well.

A few things to do to help:

  • Take a walk around campus with friends to learn the names of buildings and discover where classes are located.
  • Drive around town to become familiar with the different locations it has to offer.
  • Make use of campus maps, which are always available.


Unlike high school, a college campus is a collection of different buildings that serve different purposes. Some campuses are very large, and some are small. With general education classes in the first year, students' classes will most likely not be held in a single building and may be located all over campus. For students who have a schedule with classes back-to-back, there may only be 10 minutes to move from one building to the next to attend class on time. Some students with this schedule bring bikes to help move from one side of campus to the other.


Dorm Rooms

One of the number one things affiliated with college is dorm rooms. There are many different types of dorm rooms. Single rooms and double rooms. Suites with multiple rooms for students. Community bathrooms or bathrooms located in the rooms. They are different with each college, but they are always located in a building with multiple residents. Some universities require students to live in a dorm for so many years if they are traveling fifty or more miles to attend classes. Although some may not want to live in a dorm, it is a great opportunity to meet new people and be involved.

There are rules for dorm rooms like quiet hours after a certain time and specific visiting hours for those of the opposite sex. Alcohol and drugs are prohibited along with a non-smoking environment. There will also be random health and safety checks to ensure residents are following the rules.

The picture to the right is a typical dorm room. Students are generally allowed to decorate however they please, except with paint.

Classes and Studying

College classes are very different from high school classes. The professor can kick anyone out of class for not following the rules or being disorderly and distracting in class. This could be students texting in the middle of class. Professors can fail a student with the snap of a finger if they deem it necessary. Generally a class can meet two or three days a week, and some only meet once. This can range from Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to Tuesday and Thursday. Some classes can meet on Monday and Wednesday. It depends on the professor's schedule. Some general education classes can have up to 100 students, but other types of classes will generally have 20 to 30 students.

On the first day, the professor will hand out a syllabus with the class objectives and a schedule for the semester. Students will know about test dates well in advance so they can prepare accordingly. Tests can be difficult depending on the class and the way the test is designed. There can be multiple choice, short answer, or essay questions. It is up to the students to decide the best way to study to do well on tests.

Always take notes in class. These will become helpful while studying. A good tip to study is to look over notes for a certain amount of time and take a small break before looking over more notes. Cramming information before a test is never a good method to study. Also, try not to over study. It is easy to do this whenever one is experiencing stress over a difficult test, and he or she wants to do well. If one over studies, the mind can go blank as soon as the test begins.

Time Management

The key to succeeding in college is time management. There will be times where homework and projects are piling up, especially toward the end of the semester, and it can become overwhelming if one does not learn to manage their time effectively to complete all the assignments on time. The projects vary from major to major, but important projects and essays will always take up plenty of time, especially if they are worth a large percentage of the overall grade. One way to help with time management is to purchase a weekly planner or agenda. This helps whenever major projects or essays are due around the same time and one needs to keep track of how much time he or she has to work. The last thing any student wants is to work on something at the last minute and have to work until four in the morning.


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