Your first year of college sets the tone for your next four years of school. From the first day of orientation, your friends, class selection and general attitude will shape the kind of student that you will become. For many it is an exciting and prosperous time, but for some the first year of college can be a stressful one. Make the most of your freshman year by finding balance and surrounding yourself with people who help you succeed.

Choose your classes wisely. Remember that for some, college is one big party. Don’t be sucked in by friends to take the “easiest” classes with the most lenient professors. Keep an open mind and do your research. Try to choose classes that you are interested in. Remember that for some, criminal justice may be excruciatingly hard, but for someone interested in the field the hard work could be enjoyable.

Freshman students avoid common pitfallsWork hard, play hard. College is a great opportunity to enjoy new freedom and explore a new place. Be careful what you do with that freedom though. For many new freshmen, living away from home means partying every night. Enjoy the social scene at your school, but remain balanced. If you have a big test, study and reward yourself with a night out when it is finished.  Avoid peer pressure by setting your own limits and sticking to them. It may be hard to turn down a night out with new friends, but you’ll be establishing your dedication to your work early on and your friends won’t bother you in the future if they know you’ve stayed in to study.

Set limits with your new roommate. For many having a roommate is a new experience. Students who know their roommates in advance and those who don’t face a similar set of problems. Set ground rules, whether you know your roommate or not.  If you have early classes on a certain day, be sure to tell your roommate and ask them to be courteous. Speaking openly and honestly from the beginning is a good way to start off on the right foot.  If you have a problem, address it as soon as possible in a non confrontational, non judgmental way. Remember that your roommate probably comes from a completely different background, and you may need to compromise. Try to assume best intentions, and speak up.

Choose your friends well. Going away to college is a great way to meet new people and learn from people with different experiences. It can be overwhelming to meet so many different types of people, especially if your school has a large Greek Life population. Many communication studies show that we are heavily influenced by our friends in college. Making a conscious decision to surround yourself with positive people who will help you succeed is essential.  Keep an open mind at orientation and don’t make snap judgments.  Attend the freshman mixers and activities and strike up new conversations. Keep in mind that everyone is in the same boat as you, and they are all looking for new friends as well.