How To Survive Your First Year in Paradise

To the Class of 2024,

Welcome to Paradise! Certainly, you’ve all heard the old adage “time flies when you’re having fun.” These next four years are going to be crucial in determining the rest of your life. While college can be new and exciting, it does take tons of hard work and dedication to succeed. As incoming freshmen surely you have many questions and ideas about how your first year will turn out. But let me be the first to tell you, college is nothing like you’ve seen on television. You’ll have your ups and your downs and there may be some nights when you truly want to quit, but don’t. 

By remembering these few tips that have been gathered from students who were in your shoes just moments ago, you will absolutely make it to your graduation day proudly looking back at what you’ve done and who you’ve become.

Moving to a new school may be frightening, especially when you have to make new friends. Moving in my freshman year I didn’t know anyone. For about a week, I would sit in the dining hall alone and stay cooped up inside of my room. But after complaining to my mom she told me “Get to know your suitemates and get out of your dorm and go talk to someone.” This was one of the best pieces of advice about college that I could’ve ever gotten. Turns out my suitemates and I had so much in common and we ended up being the best of friends. Sometimes you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. But know your limits and don’t go out and be too friendly because you don’t want to be known on campus as “that one freshman.” And please keep in mind that your group of friends are a reflection of you. So be sure to surround yourself with quality people who won’t be a distraction.

  1. Go to events (especially the BBQs) 

You will meet a multitude of new people just like you by attending events that you’re interested in. Plus there’s always a BBQ being thrown which means free food, music, and definitely a good time!

  1. Join clubs.

If you think that there’s nobody that’s interested in the same things you are, you’re wrong. With nearly 30,000 students and over 300 clubs, there has to be something that sparks your interest on campus enough to join. 

  1. Embrace the spontaneity.

There will be many nights where you’re up late with your friends and somehow you find yourselves either in a fast-food drive-thru, at  a Wal-Mart, or at a friend’s get together (also known as a “getty”)

Academically, you all have earned your spot to be here. Your commitment to excelling in your academics throughout your high school career has paid off getting you to Florida Atlantic University. Now that you’ve made it here, don’t stop. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

FAU provides multiple forms of tutoring and you can even try going to your professor’s office hours to get clarification on the material straight from them. 

  1. Sit in front of your class.

This motivates you to take better notes, pay attention to detail, and your professor will get to know you as more than just a student enrolled in their class and as a student that cares about their future which ends up in your favor.

  1. Go to class!

You have the option to plan your classes months before it’s time to register for them. Please understand, classes fill up fast so plan ahead so you won’t get stuck with a less than favorable schedule. Even if you do end up with 8ams or late afternoon classes, never skip because attendance counts and a lot of times determines your grade in that class.

For many of you, this is your first time being away from home for such a long period of time. This means you’ll have to come up with your own meals, do your own laundry, and care for yourself. So staying your best mentally and physically will benefit you. 

  1. Stay in contact with your family back home.

Many first year students get overwhelmed with the amount of freedom they get once being in college that they forget to check in with the people who helped get them there. A simple phone call every day can keep you from getting blue about not being with your family. Trust me they miss you ten times more than you miss them, you’ll understand when you go back home for the first time. 

  1. It’s okay to make mistakes.

Mistakes happen, it’s life so don’t beat yourself up over it. Whether it’s not doing as good as you wanted to on your first exam or losing your iClicker the day of an extra credit quiz in class, it’s okay. However, you do need to hold yourself accountable for meeting your own academic goals because if you don’t they’ll slip away from you.

  1. Don’t give up because it’s too hard.

College isn’t a walk in the park and it’s definitely nothing like high school. But don’t let those two change your mind about how hard you’re willing to work for what you want. There’s going to be nights where you won’t sleep as much because you had to study for an important exam or days when the lesson just doesn’t make any sense. Keep trying and don’t let up because the hard work and persistence will make your end result feel much better.

Establish a certain expectation for yourself, it’s better to walk into your freshman year knowing what specific goals you want to achieve rather than just hoping you get good grades. Time is your greatest asset so work strategically to finish the job in an unceasing fashion. Learn how to balance your social life along with your mental, intellectual, and cultural life. Don’t let any specific one overshadow the other. 

While you work to make friends, outstanding grades, and even athletic achievements, don’t forget who you are and why you’re here. Don’t let freedom outshine your ambition for knowledge. The four years that you spend at FAU will bring you many occasions of laughter, some with tears, a bit of sweat, and an abundance of gratitude that you got to call Florida Atlantic University your home.

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