Congratulations on making it to your first day of college! You probably just woke up and realized that you hit the snooze button five times and now you’re late for class. Along with the anxiety coursing throughout your body, you sense a hint of nausea thrown into the mix because breakfast might not be an option today. You also realize that campus seems much bigger today and you have no idea how to navigate this foreign land. Then a revelation comforts you—you’re not the only freshman to make this mistake (and many others). If you can avoid a few of them altogether, your first day won’t feel like a “first” at all.
1. Getting to Class Late
Waking up in time for the first bell was easy, so why would college be any different? Unfortunately, you can’t pilot college and high school the same way. Waking up late can happen to anyone. If this happens to you, just relax and get to class ASAP. The professor might not even notice that you’re late, and if the odds are in your favor, the professor will show up late, too. Fair warning though, some professors or universities enforce a zero tolerance policy on the first day of class. Showing up late on day one can mean your professor drops you from a class or they hand out your first of three strikes (strike three and you get an incomplete—yikes!).
Avoid this moment of panic by making sure that your schedule works around your personality. If you’re a morning person, schedule that 7:30 a.m. class. If you like to sleep in, feel no shame in taking afternoon classes. To make sure you wake up on time, make sure you can’t stand your alarm sound—and make sure it rings more than once. If you’re uncomfortable, you’ll be wide-awake in no time. Yes, it’s early, but you’re stuck with this class for a semester, so actually attend it.
2. Skipping Breakfast
Sleeping in till noon and heading to a 2 p.m. class sounds like a good idea, but I like my brain to work at a functioning capacity before class. Without the most important meal of the day in your stomach, your metabolism won’t kick in until later in the day. This simple mistake can cause your body to break down your food at a snail pace. Good-bye beach body and hello freshman 15.
I’m not suggesting you to go to Waffle House each morning and order the All-Star Breakfast. However, eating a bowl of cereal will help get your body ready for the day. Even if your roommate forgot to get milk while grocery shopping, Pop-Tarts or any other on-the-go munchies will prepare you for the long day of education. You’ll even discover that eating breakfast can lead to you feeling refreshed as opposed to groggy and apathetic towards your day. Pro tip: Dealing with stressors will help you become more successful during your college career. College is stressful (duh). If you eat breakfast, your mind will be able to combat those stressors more successfully. Feel at ease when you scarf down bacon and eggs before class. You’re already crushing college!
3. Getting Lost
The first day of college can (and will) feel nerve-racking. With those nerves comes a loss of all senses—including your sense of direction. Just remember, you’re not alone. Hundreds of other freshman wander aimlessly too. After move-in day, explore campus before class starts. It might seem like other people don’t do this, but trust me, they do. Once you get familiar with the buildings and other landmarks you’ll feel like a second-semester senior strolling around campus on your first day.
The big maps provided on campus look cool and all, but they end up prolonging the search to class, so carry around a smaller version of the map (hint hint, one you can zoom into). Whether you download a PDF of the map or take a picture of it on your phone, having a map makes the day more exciting instead of anxiety inducing. Pre-planning a route to class the night before can also help you avoid walking into class late. You might not go that exact path, but recognizing the names of buildings from your pre-planned route will benefit you later.
4. Showing up Unprepared for Class
The first week of class is notoriously known as “syllabus week.” AKA, no productivity—but that doesn’t mean you should show up unprepared. As much as I’d like to admit that icebreakers and syllabus review take up the entire class on the first day, that’s not always the case. Since we live in the digital age, some professors opt to save the trees and go paperless, emailing students the syllabus. So what does that mean for syllabus week? It turned into the first day of *gasp* real work. Bring some standard supplies and you’ll be golden.
I remember sitting in my first year seminar class and listening to the professor say, “The key to surviving college is having basic essentials. Writing utensils and paper are your friend.” Since then, I always make sure that I bring something to write with and on. It seems like such a “duh” piece of advice, but you’ll be surprised how many freshmen come to class empty-handed. I should know, I’m still missing 10 pens. One time, I even got extra credit for reading the syllabus (sent via email) before the first day of class.
5. Take a Breather
Last (but certainly not least): Breathe. The first day can feel overwhelming. Some people drop classes after the first week due to the amount of immediate stress. If I’m being honest, I considered the thought myself a couple of times. But you must remember college serves as a place to start fresh. The beginning of a whole new chapter of your life has only just begun.
So take a deep breath into your diaphragm and let it out slowly. Today is a milestone. This is the place that can erase who you no longer wish to be. Right now is the time to discover who you are and what you enjoy doing. You’ll go on plenty of adventures and laugh during the not-so-pleasant experiences. Plenty of opportunities await you. So take a moment and rejoice; you made it!