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Freshman year is the time to make new friends, make memories, and most of all make mistakes. It’s pretty scary to get thrown into college life at a huge university with barely any idea of what to do. Luckily, here are some tips that will help you survive your first year at UW-Madison.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to be Awkward

When you first arrive at college, prepare for some awkwardness. You’re in a new place with new people…and nobody really knows what the heck is going on. Although it may be hard to get the hang of things, just know that you will meet people and find your place, even if it’s awkward at first.

2. Talk to Your Counselor

Signing up for classes at SOAR is one of the most stressful experiences you’ll go through as a freshman, so you’ll want as much help as you can get. Make your counselor your best friend at student orientation, and meet with them frequently throughout the year to stay on track. You may not have your life figured out yet, but luckily for you, they do.

3. Get Involved

The college experience is so much more than just academics. Getting involved on campus is the best way to build your resume and meet new people. Whether it be an intramural sport or a student organization, UW has something for everybody. I mean, who wouldn’t want to join the Madison Cheese Club?

4. Don’t Skip Class…Too Often

While you may be tempted to sleep through that early morning lecture, just know that skipping class is costing you valuable time and money. If you seriously can’t help skipping, at least check the class syllabus in advance so you know what you’re missing. That way you’ll feel a little bit better as you hit “snooze” for the 10th time in a row.

5. Go To Office Hours

Going to office hours may be the most intimidating part of a class, but it is definitely the most rewarding. Go to office hours during the first weeks of school to meet your professor. It might be awkward at first, but developing a good relationship with a teacher is extremely beneficial. You never know when you’re going to need a letter of recommendation.

6. Stay Organized

In college, there’s no one to remind you when assignments are due, so it’s up to you to be independent and organized. Staying on top of your classwork is key to having a successful first year at college. Your planner will be your lifesaver.

7. Get To Know Your Hall

Getting to know your floormates is such a fun part of living in the freshman year dorms. There’s nothing better than living next door to some of your closest friends! Becoming friends with your floor will also make those trips to the showers wearing nothing but a towel a little less awkward.

8. Actually Go to the Gym

You have a FREE membership at your university gym, so take advantage of it! The Freshman 15 is all too real, so get moving! Fortunately, UW has many great facilities and workout classes to keep you motivated. You gotta burn off the calories from Babcock ice cream somehow.

9. Don’t Feel Pressured About Your Major

Maybe you’re coming into college with your major already decided. Or, if you’re like me, you’re coming into college with no idea what you want to do. While you want to stay on track to graduate, there’s no use stressing about your major this early. Chances are, you’ll probably change your mind a few times.

10. Talk to Your Parents

Remember them? Those people that raised you for the past 18 years? Yeah, well, they probably miss you a lot. And you probably miss them too. Call or Facetime your parents often and update them about your life. A call home will never fail to give you the support you need to make it through the day.

11. Keep Track of Your Money

The rumors are true: college kids are broke. You may not realize how much you’re spending, but all of those trips to Chipotle add up. Try to keep track of how much money you’re making and spending per month to avoid a lot of stress. You may think you need that new college sweatshirt, but I promise that you need textbooks even more.

12. Know Your Limits

If you decide to drink in college, there’s a lot to learn. Ease into the party scene, and try to find your limit. College is a time to party and let loose, but it’s also important to be responsible. Nobody wants to be known as that person who got too drunk and yacked all over themselves at the party.

13. Talk to Your Roommate

You don’t have to be best friends with your freshman year roommate, but you do have to talk to each other. Make an effort to be friendly, and the whole experience will be a lot more enjoyable. However, if something is bothering you, speak up! After all, it is your room too.

14. Try to Learn Some Adult Skills

Freshman year is basically your first step into adulthood, and with age comes responsibility. Learning how to do things like cooking and laundry may be boring, but they’re an important part of growing up. Spoiler alert: you’ll probably have to call your mom and ask her how to do laundry (or at least I did).

15. Make the Most of Freshman Year!

Freshman year happens way too quickly, so don’t let it pass you by. Take advantage of every opportunity, and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Learn from every mistake and appreciate every moment.

Even if you follow all of this advice, chances are you’ll still make mistakes. And that’s okay! While it may be one of the hardest years of college, it is also one of the best. You’re only a freshman once, so live it up while you can.


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