starting college

Five Tips for Your First Year of College

By Katie Grieze

Whether you’ve read all those books about what to expect in college or you’re waiting to see for yourself, read on for a few quick tips on how to make the most of your experience.

 

1. Give yourself space to meet new people.

One of the best things about college is the chance to build lasting relationships. You’ll meet so many people from so many backgrounds. Get to know some of them! Maybe that means joining a club or chatting with classmates. Maybe you even walk up and say hi to other students around campus. College is a unique place where putting yourself out there is the norm, so take advantage of that welcoming atmosphere while you’re here.

BONUS TIP: If you’re starting college alongside close friends from high school, that’s great! But make sure to branch out. If you spend all your time with people you already know, you might miss opportunities to meet more friends.

 

2. Explore your interests, and fill up your schedule. (But don’t take on too much.)

Over these next few years, you’ll probably have more freedom than ever to learn and do what you want. Even if you’ve already declared a major, don’t stop there. Interested in something different? Consider a minor (or two)! Want to volunteer, join a faith-based community, or explore even more new things? Check out a student organization! (At Butler, you’ll have more than 130 to choose from.) If you want to experience the world off-campus, Butler also offers more than 200 study abroad programs (and 4 in 10 students travel abroad before graduation).

College is an ideal time to find what’s right for you. But make sure to also find your limit: know when to say “no,” and don’t feel bad for letting go of things that aren’t a good fit.

BONUS TIP: Early in the semester, many student organizations will host call-out meetings to share information and provide a sense of what the semester will hold. These are great opportunities to “window shop” clubs before you join!

 

3. Visit your family. Or at least call.

Many first-year students experience homesickness at some point. And hey, chances are people back home are missing you, too. So if you’re not too far away, think about visiting your family at least a few times each semester, and make sure you invite them to campus for Family Weekend, too. They’ll appreciate it, and even if it takes some planning around homework and projects, just one weekend will feel like a mini-vacation. If you can’t make it back home, phone calls are great, too!

 

4. Use your campus resources.

As a college student, you have access to so many services and amenities that are either free to you or included with tuition. Take advantage of those now, because after graduation, things like gym memberships and counseling services don’t come cheap. All Butler students can work out in the Health and Recreation Complex, and you’ll have access to a variety of counseling and therapy services. You can also get personalized career guidance from the Office of Career and Professional Success (CaPS), database access and research help through Butler Libraries, and free or discounted admission to several on-campus events. Trust us—it’s cliche, but when it comes to college, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.

 

5. Pay attention to how you’re feeling.

In the rush of all these new experiences, it can be easy to lose touch with how you’re feeling about all of it. It’s good to stay busy, but don’t forget to check in with yourself. Even good change is hard. Adjusting takes time, but it will be easier if you pause and acknowledge your feelings every day instead of waking up one morning in second semester and realizing how overwhelmed you’ve been all year. And remember that whatever you’re feeling, that’s okay.

BONUS TIP: Find a way to stay mindful that’s enjoyable and easy. Maybe that’s journaling before bed. Maybe it’s keeping a detailed planner, or using a mindfulness app. You might try yoga or meditation—or take a walk through Holcomb Gardens. Find what works for you!

Five Tips for Your First Year of College

Keep these things in mind as you transition from high school to life on a university campus