6 Things to Know Before Your First Semester of College!

First: I am so jealous of you. Oh my goodness, how in the world am I already a senior.. in COLLEGE. Yeah, I have no idea. Nope, none, zilch. If you are new, my name is Gabby and I’m a rising senior at the University of National Champions at Champion Hill; yeah, I’m not over it.

I’ve been blogging about college life for almost 2 years now and I absolutely love talking all about the craziness that is the wonderful experience of undergrad. There are somethings that you’re going to have to learn on your own; and these are going to be much more personal and are going to be very different for each and every one of you. That’s rad.

Today’s blog post is for all my underclassmen, but specifically the first years out there who are ready to pack up their cars right this very second and start the next chapter of their lives. If there was one thing I wish I could do; it would be to slow down. I feel like I have blinked and in that millisecond of time have gone through 6 semesters of grueling coursework, made incredible friendships, and traveled across the country—not the world, yet… working on it.

If you want to know what other random life things, you might want to be prepared for, then keep reading and be sure to check out my 100 Things To Know About College, for some more wise wisdom!


1. Now is the time to nerd out about whatever you are passionate about, become the expert.

MAN. People will tell you that your professors are the experts of their fields, and nothing is farther from the truth. If you’re going to any accredited institution of higher learning, your professor [yeah, drop the whole teacher thing, it’s the big leagues now] has their Ph.D. and spent 5+ years of their life tirelessly trying to figure out something no one else ever had. That’s special.

But, why would you wait until graduate school to explore these passions. Sure, you need some basic understanding that will come from your undergraduate course work, but what about those random hobbies that you love, or maybe that amazing show that comes on the Food Network all about salads [I don’t watch Food Network, and have no idea what really goes on over there.]

Get passionate about your life. It helps so much especially when you are in a random 100-level history or math class that you could care less about and have no motivation to continue to listen to your TA ramble on. It helps to see the bigger picture and to be passionate about getting there.

2. There will be people you will never speak to again, that you would probably consider to be one of your best friends right now.

You’re going to change, and that’s seriously the greatest thing. But, there are going to be people who aren’t ready to make these changes with you and that’s going to make it hard to progress that relationship. You may have to leave it behind for now, and come back in a couple of years.

True friendships withstand time, and will go back to normal after a couple minutes of complaining about yet another contestant you loved that got sent home on the Bachelor. Literally me; I’ve also predicted the winner of the last two seasons correctly. I am a psychic, actually.

Oh, and this is the part where you find out who your truest friends from high school are! The ones you start blogs with(!?!), and can text any moment or send funny memes too, and the ones that go to the same place for brunch with you every time you’re back home. Cherish these friendships and pro tip: don’t forget birthdays!

3. Your body will change.

You might not necessarily gain weight, even though I definitely did. It’s okay if you do, but just be prepared to work hard to get it off! Some of my friends actually lost weight. You see the thing is: people handle the first semester of stress and new experiences very differently. I am a snacker, and that’s where the Freshman{?} got me. I didn’t spend a lick of time in the library my entire first semester; and somehow managed to study in my room where literally all my snacks are. I would definitely recommend the out of site out of mind method or keeping only healthy snacks around like fruits and veggies.

Another killer is ordering food late at night. The restaurants and shops around campus know college students too well and honestly have easy access to you when living in the dorms. They will provide tons of coupons and deals to students and have ridiculously late hours. Tell me why anyone needs to be awake past 2 am, let alone eating a full meal at these hours. Avoid late night junk food runs and calls as much as possible. It’ll save you cash and calories, a win-win situation!

4. Enjoy your time in the dorms and actually talk to the people on your floor.

If there was one thing I would have wanted to change or do better my first two years of college, it would be talking to the people on my floor, on the other side of my hall, and in my building. All of my roommates, suitemates, and hall mates were in my scholarship my first year. I spent 6 weeks with them the summer before our first year; meaning we were all super tight by the end of it. I was pretty solid on the friend group thing going into school and got a little too comfortable.

College Organization Packing for College

I always kick myself when I meet people again through classes now, that said they lived in the same dorm as me [sometimes even the same floor] and I had no idea these awesome people were around because I got comfortable in my bubble! If you are going to school with your friends from high school, branch out!!!! I can’t stress that enough. Please do it. This is the first time in life where you have a crazy diverse amount of life stories right next door to you. Take advantage of it. This is also great practice for knocking on random strangers doors and introducing yourselves. There have been a lot more times in my life where that skill would have been so nice to already have.

5. Live in the moment, but document, document, document it!

Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and really just your phone in general is a blessing and a curse. I can’t tell you how many meals I’ve been to where everyone at the table is scrolling through their feeds. Get off your phones!! I loved when my friends played the ‘first one to touch their phone, gets the bill game” because it makes everyone take a break from the digital world and focus on the people around them. This will strengthen friendships and give a greater appreciation for the time you’re spending with these people.

At the same time, take so many pictures. There are memories my first year where I really would like to have some high quality photos of my friends and I doing all the silly first year at Carolina experiences. I take so many photos now, but I also know the balance of capturing the photos and enjoying the mems. Find your balance; you’ll thank yourself later.

6. Senior year was rough for you? Take it easy this next semester!!!

Here’s where I initially took the wrong route and found myself on the right track. I was one of those over achieving, top of the class high school students who attempted 18 hrs the first semester. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. By the end of the semester, I was sitting comfortably at 12 credit hours and having the time of my life! I’m not saying by any means that you need to slack off or purposefully take less credit hours. But, then I also am?

I think if I had stuck with 15 credit hours; there still would have been a happy ending for me. I had to drop Calc III because I got wrecked on the first exam, and simply kept falling asleep in my “The Greeks” lecture, so dropped that as well. I went to legit, almost every single Carolina sporting event and rewatched all of Gossip Girl. My grades were also stellar that semester, so also a plus! Don’t feel the pressure to take an absurd amount of classes. Be good to yourself and explore a little bit outside of your intended major, especially if you’re going in as STEM! I have a post all about scheduling here.


College is a time for exploration. Explore the new city, town, country(?) that you’ll be living in. Try going out to a meet night for a new organization that you’ve never heard of and play/watch a new sport. Go to everything that is free! You’ll learn 200x more outside of the classroom, trust me! Check out 100 other tips and tricks to college life over on this post!

xoxo,

  • The friend comment is definitely something people should soak in. I had a large group of close friends in high school. Now, due to shifts in interests and our paths changing, I only speak to ONE! I am 27 and I am totally fine with it xx moved on to bigger and better things and it’s alllll good!

    • Yes, live your life girl! I think everything happens for a reason and if people are supposed to stay in your life they will!
      xo, G

  • thesophiadiaries

    I wish I knew these before I went into college >_< because all of these are totally spot on!!

    http://thesophiadiaries.com/howto/how-to-accept-and-embrace-change

  • Branching out and meeting other people is such an important thing! Those people become your network, and even if you don’t talk every day or month, you will appreciate knowing them in the future!

    • Definitely!! I have connections all over the professional world and it is great to have!
      xo, G

  • Such good advice for college newbies. I miss college so much! My college experience wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome if I didn’t branch out and make friends in all different places. I really wish I would have known more of the people that lived on my floor, as you mentioned. I met most people outside of the dorm, but it would have been fun to have hall parties and such.

    • Yeah, I feel like I met a lot of people inside my major from taking classes and working in groups and things, but I wish I would have been able to branch out earlier to meet people outside of my major because these are some of the most meaningful relationships I have! Definitely feel ya on the hall parties though haha
      xo, G

  • Gabby, this post is super informative. I can’t believe you are a senior!! I dread the day I am a senior, college is something I can’t even think about leaving.

    Much love,
    Ashley | dearash.com

    • Girl, I can’t believe it either!! Like where did all the time go?? I think as you get closer to leaving, it becomes more real and they kind of force you to start thinking about what the heck you’re going to do after you leave haha
      xo, G

  • I wish I had read this as an incoming freshman! I agreed with so many of these points. The most shocking experience for me as a freshman was realizing that my professors were experts in their fields with extremely impressive degrees and research; it felt so weird calling my teachers “Dr.” or “Professor” after calling them “Mr.” or “Mrs.” my entire life.

    Charlotte | http://www.lettersfromsunshine.com

    • Gosh this is so true!! It’s so weird switching over and I think that adds to the whole notion of professors being unapproachable but they really are just people!
      xo, G

  • I’ve been out of school now for only a few years, but yes to all of this! I killed myself my first semester scheduling the max amount of hours I could just to hurry and get things done as quickly as possible. Which completely messed up my track in the end – my GPA was horrible! I wish I could go back and tell myself to not go crazy!

    • Literally, my first semester could have wildly crazy had I stayed in all those credit hours. I legit don’t know what i was thinking! You made it out and are pretty successful now though so I would say it all worked out in the end haha!
      xo, G

  • Oh wow. I’ve been out of college for almost 10 years now… this just took me WAY back

  • I’ve been out of college for awhile (OMG almost 10 years… wha?!?) but I so agree with all of this, especially #4. I only lived on campus my first year but I so wish I had taken advantage of it and make more friends that lived in the dorms and in classes. All of your tips are so spot on and I wish I had these when I first started as a freshman.

    • Thanks girl!! and wow kind of wish I was where you are at this point, but also wanting to be a first year again; what a dilemma!
      xo, G

  • I’ve been out of college for almost 3 years now. I definitely wish I would have documented more of it. Of course I was too busy with a guy…enjoy the moments and take advantage of being young and free. haha

    • Oh girl, you are preaching to the choir! I’m going to work on documenting the crap out of senior year. I am pumped!
      xo, G

  • Oh, these are all so true! This list kind of made me miss my dorm! Can’t believe I’m saying that, but man, life was an adventure back then!

    • Oh yes it was!! It’s been a year since I left them and I miss the camaraderie, like a little bit. haha
      xo, G

  • I’ve been out of college for almost 6 years and it seems like a flash in time. I wish I had documented it more.

    • Yeah, I’m trying to get better at it and going to document a ton of my last year!
      xo, G

  • Jordyn Upchurch

    Number two is so real, my friend group changed dramatically when I finished high school and then all throughout my years of college it fluctuated. I’m only still friends with a select few of my high school and college buddies, and that’s okay! I’m a teacher now and when I warn my students about this, I always tell them what’s meant to be will be 🙂

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

    • So true though!! I’m always amazed by the friends that I’ve kept up with over the years and it’s crazy because you never leave high school or college thinking that you’ll lose touch with people, but it happens!! I definitely cherish the relationships that I’ve maintained!
      xo, G

  • These are great tips Gabby!

  • Alyssa Larsen

    These are great tips! I’m a rising senior as well, and definitely feeling very nostalgic recently. Those photos of you in your dorm made me miss my own dorm (though I hated it at the time). There’s really no comparable experience to living in a dorm with hundreds of other students who are going through the same experience as you! I have the same regret as you – I focused on my roommate and my friends still at home, and failed to make friends with the people in my hall – something I always regretted.

    • Yes, gosh one thing I would definitely do differently!! I don’t even know how to feel about senior year approaching! It’s gonna go by so fast, and that’s scary. thanks for reading!
      xo, G

  • These are such great tips! This post makes me wish I was still in school :)!

    Kristin
    The Blush Blonde

    • Thanks girl!! I’m gonna miss it so much; I’m trying to savor this next year coming up!
      xo, G