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10 Tips for Surviving Your Freshman Year at Appalachian State University

June 23, 2016

By: Rose Saunders

Dear incoming freshmen,

This is the first summer I’ve worked at the University Writing Center, and one of our summer duties includes working an information table at the many orientation events taking place. While working these orientations, I’ve been repeatedly reminded of what it was like to be a freshman. The excited and eager energy you guys give off makes me think of my own first year at ASU, and it also reminds me of how quickly the years have gone by. I am now a senior and a graduate student through the Accelerated Admissions program, and I am beginning to look forward to life beyond Appalachian. It’s amazing to consider how much I’ve changed over the past three years and to think about the changes that will likely take place over the years to come. Someday you’ll be looking back on this summer, and this upcoming school year too, but for now you’ve got to get out there and make the best of it! So, here are 10 tips to get the most out of your first year of college from a seasoned Appalachian State veteran:

  1. Enjoy orientation, but know that it’s nothing like being a student here. I didn’t love orientation because it felt like summer camp, and I wanted nothing more than to be an independent adult. I was kind of worried the rest of freshman year would be a lot like this, and although the first few weeks are somewhat similar to orientation (with Appal Corps and freshman-focused events), I got the independence I wanted later in the year. My one orientation regret is that I dwelt on this idea of independence too much, and I missed out on a lot of the fun activities planned. So, enjoy the guidance and fun while it lasts!
  2. Be friendly to everyone. This isn’t high school anymore, and cliquey-ness is no longer cool. You’ll probably find yourself making friends with people you never would have thought to a few years ago, and that’s a good thing! This is the time to branch out and discover new aspects of yourself. roseinsnow
    One of our first snows at ASU! On the left is my then neighbor, Rachael, who is now one of my roommates, I’m in the middle, and then my first year roommate, Hannah, is on the right.
  3. Don’t make everything about partying. People create so much hype about college being a time to party, and although it often does provide opportunities to do so, that’s not all it’s about. When all is said and done, you’re here to receive an education and to grow as a person. If you make college entirely about getting wasted, you’re going to miss out on bettering yourself.
  4. Don’t pick up bad habits. Another common misconception college students believe is that they’re invincible and they can try whatever they want without any long-term effects. I saw so many people get addicted to cigarettes during my freshman year, and although they would often pretend they could stop whenever they wanted, many of them still smoke regularly to this day. Smoking isn’t the only bad habit you can form in college though; unhealthy sleeping patterns, caffeine dependence, and an increase in fast food consumption are a few others to watch out for.
  5. Join clubs and get involved on campus. Freshman year is the perfect time to get involved because your class schedule is likely the easiest it will ever be, plus it’s a great way to meet tons of awesome people with similar interests. There’s also the added bonus of putting your campus participation on your resume. roseandfriends
    This is a picture from backstage at one of the First Year Showcase performances. This opportunity is for freshmen who have interests in dance and theater. It was a really cool experience and I would recommend it to anyone who hopes to get involved in the theater and/or dance departments on campus!
  6. Be honest with your roommate. If you have an issue or a concern with them, let them know. They can’t fix a problem if they don’t know there is one, and keeping your feelings bottled up only breeds resentment. roseandroomie
    My freshman year roommate and I on one of the first nights in our dorm room.
  7. Don’t get into a serious relationship. I know this might be hard for some, but everyone I know who was in or got into a serious relationship during their freshman year regretted it. When you’re constantly tied to your significant other, you’re going to miss out on making friends, learning how to be self-sufficient, and discovering more about yourself. Moreover, if and when you break up, all of your ASU memories will be connected to that person, making it harder to move on.
  8. Don’t slack off in school. It’s easy to skip classes and miss homework assignments in college because no one is holding your hand or forcing you to make an effort, but freshman year classes are vital for graduation and will be reflected in your GPA. The grades you make freshman year have an impact down the road, like when you’re trying to apply for the college attached to your major (such as the Reich College of Education or the Walker College of Business), a scholarship, a job, or another opportunity.
  9. Don’t go home every weekend. The first few weeks, or even months, of college can be rough if you don’t feel satisfied with the friends you’ve made, but you won’t begin to adjust or meet the people you want until you spend some weekends here as well. There are plenty of long weekends woven into our schedule, and those are the perfect time to go visit your family.
  10. Take advantage of the abundant resources on campus. Our campus offers tons of resources for students, many of which will never be so available to you again, but you have to take the initiative to use them! Been meaning to get in shape? There are multiple gyms on campus and free group workout classes for students. Need to deal with some unresolved childhood issues? The counseling center is great and even has a really cute therapy dog you can cuddle. Want to become a better writer? Come visit us in the Writing Center for free, one-on-one, collaborative writing sessions. 🙂 Check out a list of other campus resources here and here.

I hope you enjoy your first year of college at ASU, but if you don’t, just remember that each year is different and brings new opportunities. Come visit me in the Writing Center soon! 🙂



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