For freshmen: Use these tips for a successful college experience


The Daily Illini File Photo

Two student move-in volunteers help transfer a roller of supplies into a dorm on Aug. 26, 2019. Incoming freshmen should use these tips for a successful school year.

By Diana Anghel

The moment that you’ve been imagining for the past four years has finally arrived. All of the AP classes, ACT or SAT attempts, late night sport commitments, lunches in the cafeteria with friends, friday night football games and everything in between has come to a sudden stop. You’re about to embark on a new journey provided your hard work and commitment. A new level of responsibility, independence and education awaits. For me, freshman year was a year where I felt as if I could really recreate myself and apply all of the lessons I’ve learned in high school to everyday decisions; nevertheless, I still felt lost a lot of the time, as most college freshmen do. Here are some details that no one talks about in boarding this new adventure: 

Uncomfortability has potential. 

Whether you come from a small town, large city or another country, you’ve had a lifestyle shaped by your environment; everything from food, types of friends you made, comfort songs, types of exercises, movies you watch to books you read have created a certain level of comfort in your life. These may be the things that have been unmoved, no matter life events you went through. Step out of this comfort zone. The food you said you’ve never try? Try it. You hate traveling? Try a short study abroad program. Our comfort zones kill our potential to fully discover things that maximize ourselves. The campus is filled with diversity in every aspect you could imagine. Take advantage of that. 

Learn to deal with “adult” problems.

This may be the case for you already, but if it’s not, it’s time to take control of more aspects of your life. I’m talking about filing taxes, making your own doctor appointments, submitting your own FAFSA, understanding how your insurance works. This can also include smaller tasks, like learning to cook your own meals, properly separating your laundry, budgeting groceries, using the right cleaning supplies on the right surfaces. There are shortcuts around these smaller tasks, of course. But the easier way isn’t always the right way. The habits you create now could follow for many years to come. 

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    Create a resume. 

    One of my favorite professors was very honest with her students about what a resume should and should not be. When she listed all of the things a resume should not be, I was shocked to find mine contained all of these elements. This varies for all majors and industries, so seek out resources within your own career path. Starting with a clean slate and excluding high school activities from your resume can offer a roadmap to all of the elements you’re missing from having a full college resume. 


    This one really can’t be emphasized enough. Whether it’s a professor, guest speaker, open houses or career fairs, introducing yourself can go a long way. This not only makes you more skilled at starting conversations, but you never know when a person you crossed paths with can offer an opportunity. One of the things I like to do is to send follow-up emails to guest speakers that come either in one of my classes or work meetings. This sets you apart from the rest, and they may offer a continued relationship. And though this is just my opinion, I’m a strong believer in the saying, “It doesn’t matter where you go, it matters who you know.” 

    Flip flops in the shower. 

    On a lighter note, this one speaks for itself. Trust me. 

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