Freshman year was simultaneously the most terrifying and exciting time of my life. After finding a roommate, packing, and buying dorm supplies, I thought I was prepared. But the stress had only just begun and life was about to throw me one hell of a curveball.

New environments are never easy, especially when you have few to no friends and are jumping into a new, much harder, school. Luckily for you, you’re not the first person to go to college, and my struggles mean you don’t have to or at least, maybe you won’t struggle quite as much… 

Here are 10 tips for a better freshman year

1. Don’t act a certain way just to fit in

When I first got to college, I felt completely alone. This led me to reach out to the first group of people I saw and do whatever it took to fit in. Turns out no one likes a try-hard and the key to making friends is simply being authentic.

2. All-nighters are not the answer

Numerous times, I let my school work pile up until I was left with two deadlines and three exams all in the same week. Buy a planner, hang up a calendar and plan ahead, because running on 2 hours of sleep is NEVER effective. 

3. Eat healthy and exercise

They never tell you that you lose more than you gain when the freshman fifteen hits you. I put on the pounds, but I lost energy and motivation along with it. Eating healthy and exercising does more for your body than make you look good, so don’t disregard its importance. 

4. Get to know your professors

The connections I made with my professors not only helped me determine my major and career path, but also helped shape me as a person. Professors can serve as mentors and are often willing to listen and guide you in the right direction. Don’t miss out on getting to know them because of nerves. 

5. Only skip if you need to 

 I can tell you firsthand that watching another episode of Friends will never make up for a letter grade drop. Use your absences when you need them, not when you want them. And if attendance isn’t mandatory, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to go.

6. Don’t buy out the campus bookstore 

After purchasing countless books I never opened, I advise you to hold off on purchasing a book until you need it, and always check Amazon first. The reading list on the syllabus is not always accurate, and you probably don’t need that calculator. 

7. A load of laundry won’t kill you

Take it from me, one load of laundry twice a week is better than 7 loads every month. Having clean clothes makes it easier to get dressed for that 8 AM and is a step in the right direction to making friends. 

8. Raise your hand 

My biggest regret from freshman year is not getting involved in class simply because I was too embarrassed to speak up. Remember that your opinion matters and your question isn’t stupid. 

9. Your major isn’t permanent 

College is a great time to explore your passions before deciding on a career. I changed my major several times and have never had regrets about making the switch. 

10. Don’t take it all for granted 

You may roll your eyes when I say, “these are the best days of your life,” but they truly are. Make mistakes, meet as many people as you can, and embrace the freedom of not having it all figured out.