Making the Most of Freshman Year: A Senior’s Perspective

By Amanda Harbrecht, Social Media Intern

“Make the most of this time.” I remember being a freshman in college and hearing this all the time from those around me. I would smile and feel that rush of anticipation that I was going to be experiencing something wonderful. At the same time, I would wonder: How do I make sure I make the most of my time in college? Now, three years later, I am a senior and I hear that phrase all over again. Thus, I find myself reflecting on the ways I have spent my time so far, and the ways I plan to make the most of the time I have left. If I could go back and give my freshman self some perspective on making the most of that year my advice would be very simple: get to know your school, get to know your peers, and get to know yourself.

1. Get to know your school.

The college you attend is where you will (most likely) spend the next four years of your life, and it’s also a place you’ll be connected to for the rest of your life. Your time as a student is just a small part of what is probably a rich and storied history of your school. Try to learn more about your school’s history. Take the time to explore campus. Maybe you will find an incredible study spot, an office that welcomes students with free snacks, or a picturesque area to go for a walk. Even as a senior I’m still discovering cool new places on my campus. Getting to know your school could also mean going to your professors’ office hours. The faculty is a vital part of any university. Many of them will have impressive backgrounds and interesting experiences. If you get to know the professors and the staff, you’ll get to know your new home better too.

Making Your College Experience Your Path to Success

2. Get to know your peers.

Getting to know the people around you and making good friends is one of the surest ways to start feeling at home at college. Chances are your college draws students from a much larger pool than what you may be used to. Try to meet as many people as you can; you might be surprised by some of the friendships you form. Just introduce yourself whether it’s to your neighbors across the hall, the person sitting next to you in class, or the president of the club you joined. I once had a conversation with a friend regarding meeting and interacting with people you don’t know. She seemed surprised when I pointed out that it could be intimidating to go somewhere where you won’t know anyone. “If I don’t know someone, then I just introduce myself. I say ‘Hi my name’s Emily’, and then I know that person,” she said. I have always been struck by how simple she made it sound, but I have come to find it can really be that easy. The best way to make friends is quite simply to be friendly.

Making the Most of Your Connections

3. Get to know yourself.

College is a time of self-discovery; yet, between classes, friends, clubs, and school events it can be easy to forget about taking time for yourself. Having alone time is so important to your mental well-being, and that, in turn, affects the other aspects of your health. Don’t get so caught up in “college-life” that you forget about your life and the bigger picture. Whether you do it on a walk, in the library, or just alone in your room, make self-reflection a priority. Really take time to think about what you want out of college, and then what you need to do to achieve those things. In the words of the baseball legend Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

College is an incredible time. Whichever school you attend, you will have the opportunity to learn new things and to meet new people. However you choose to spend your time though, you want it to be intentional. The worst thing would be to graduate and look back and wish you had spent all your time differently. There is so much work to be done, but also a lot of fun to be had. If you find the right balance, you can be sure you will make the most of your time.