Class of 2024, here’s what you need to know about college

(left) Former NSN editor-in-chief Liv Frey spent their junior year at University of Michigan studying political science.
(left) Former NSN editor-in-chief Liv Frey spent their junior year at University of Michigan studying political science.
Olivia Frey

By the time this article gets published, I will be driving home from Ann Arbor, Mich., finished with my freshman year at the University of Michigan. Transitioning from a mid-sized high school to a large university with over 50,000 students wasn’t easy, but I can confidently say that it was worth every second. I made amazing friends, took interesting classes, penned columns for the Michigan Daily and watched Michigan Football win a national championship. 

However, getting used to college didn’t happen overnight. There were some canon events I had to go through in order to fully understand why upperclassmen were telling me “not to take 8 a.m. classes” or that “my one big friend group I made at the beginning of the year won’t last.” The biggest lesson I learned though? College is what you make of it. Thus, dear reader, I am here to tell you some things I learned so that you can make the most of your college experience.

You don’t need to find a roommate over the summer 

Before I even stepped foot on campus, people were rushing to find a roommate on their Class of 2027’s Instagram page. While I understand that self-selecting a roommate reduces anxiety, it doesn’t guarantee that you guys will be “good” roommates. They may check all the boxes online, but once you move in, they can show a completely different side of themselves that Instagram doesn’t. Going in random will allow you to meet people from diverse backgrounds, learn how to cooperatively live in a space with someone completely new and create some separation between your “home” life and “friend” life. Even if your roommate doesn’t work out, you’ll have horror stories that’ll make you the life of the party down the road. 

Set a weekly budget for yourself

While U-M is phenomenal in lots of ways, we’re not particularly known for our good dining halls. Thus, my friends would spend ridiculous amounts of money Doordashing and eating out. Ann Arbor also has a higher cost of living compared to the rest of the state, so “stuff” here is more expensive than anywhere else. Because I wasn’t working, I had to spend my money wisely, and that meant budgeting. Whatever college you find yourself at, it’s important to learn how to budget. Do you really need to spend $8 on a latte when you could make coffee at home? 

Call your parents. They’ll miss you!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in everything college has to offer, but with new change often comes uncertainty. 73% of college students feel lonely at some point. To ease the transition, especially if you are moving far away from home, stay in touch with your parents. They can provide good insight into any uncertainties you’re feeling and also remind you to do your homework.

Go to class, even when it’s optional 

While I argued against mandatory attendance in a column for the Michigan Daily, I still made an effort to attend class as much as possible. I felt like I could get more out of class when I was actually present in the classroom instead of in my dorm room. After all, an increased attendance is associated with higher grades. However, the wonderful thing about college is that you are an adult with free will. If a class doesn’t record attendance and it’s a relatively easy class to catch up on, it’s okay to prioritize other work, so long as you catch up afterwards. 

Change your study habits 

College is hard! There is more expected out of you, you’re given less time and there is no one telling you what to do. A lot of my peers didn’t need to study in high school to get good grades, but once they got to college, they fell behind because they didn’t know how to study. Take advantage of your college’s resources! Office hours, tutoring centers and even class-specific study groups are great ways to get additional help in difficult classes. Also, switch up your study spaces. Even though studying in my bed worked for me in high school, my dorm room became more of a distraction than anything else. 

Maintain a good work-life balance 

While academics come first, you should not be studying all day, even if you are in a more intense major. 60% of college students experience burnout at one point or another,  so engaging in self-care activities is incredibly crucial to improving your mental health. Carve time out of your day to catch up with friends, go to that one Squirrel Feeding Club event or watch that one T.V. show you’ve been meaning to catch up on. 

Don’t forget to eat 

It’s easy to get so caught up in everything college has to offer that you forget to do basic self-care tasks, such as eating. Much like making time for fun activities, don’t forget to carve out time to eat. Your body needs fuel in order to make yourself more productive. Of course, you can multitask while you eat, but also give yourself a brain break. It’s also easy to eat unhealthy foods in college. While indulging in sweet treats is perfectly acceptable, make sure you are still eating a balanced diet for your three main meals.

It’s not that serious 

Things that used to bother me in high school don’t bother me anymore. The “meanies” of high school don’t run the college social scene. Of course, there will always be cliques and petty drama, but it’s very easy not to get involved or shrug it off. As you step foot on campus for the first time this fall, make sure you are listening to yourself and trusting your gut.

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