Things I Learned My First Semester of College

Before I went to college for the first time last August, I read plenty of blog articles recommending what to bring and telling me what college students who have gone before me learned during their first year at college.  Sometime during my first semester, I decided, “Hey, why don’t I make a list of my own?”  But I also promised myself that I wouldn’t make a list that’s basically a carbon copy of any other “Things I Learned My First Year of College” list that you’ve already read.  I promised that I’d make a list that, sure, includes some of the big things that you’ve heard before, after all, we all need to be reminded, but more importantly encompasses my own unique experiences and the things that I’ve learned from them.  You’ll see what I mean.  I hope you enjoy my list of the Top 50 things that I learned this past semester, and that you get a little chuckle but still take to heart the truth of the sweet.

  1. Orientation is basically “Camp Freshman.”  It’s one of the last tastes of childhood that you’ll get.  Try to enjoy it even if the twentieth lecture on campus rules and safety makes you want to stab yourself in the eye with a fork.
  2. Don’t leave all of your weekend’s-worth of homework until Sunday afternoon.  Your whole weekend will be much more enjoyable if you do some each day alternating work with play.
  3. C’s happen.  They’re not the end of the world, and they don’t mean you’re a failure.  They’re just a wake-up call saying, “Hey, maybe you should try doing something a little differently.”  You’re a failure if you get a C and you don’t do anything about it.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to hanging out with friends because you’re feeling too tired.  Your body is talking to you- listen!
  5. Take the stairs.  You’ll thank me later.
  6. Just because you became friends during Orientation doesn’t mean you’ll be friends for life.  That’s fine.
  7. Not everyone misses his/her parents in the same way.  If you don’t miss your parents as much as your roommate misses his/hers, it doesn’t make you a bad son/daughter.
  8. But you still need to call, text, email, something every now and then.  They love and miss you.  Don’t take that for granted.
  9. You quickly realize which of your high school and childhood friends are actually your true friends.
  10. Don’t leave glass bottles on tables where they can easily be knocked off.  Full or empty.
  11. Just because you skipped one day of practice or working out doesn’t make you a bad musician or athlete.  It makes you human.
  12. You will do things you never thought you would or said you never would.  It happens.
  13. People actually care way less than you give them credit for.  The number of people who are actually judging you are far fewer than in high school.  Everyone is too busy worrying about what they’re doing and not what anyone else is (just like you!).
  14. Fewer people are in relationships than you realize.  You’re not a failure if you haven’t found someone within the first few months of college.  You’re normal.
  15. What class (“grade”) you’re in matters way less than it did when you were in high school.
  16. Keep healthy snacks in your dorm room.  You’ll feel so much better.
  17. Sometimes it’s the little things that make your day.  Like grilled cheese in the Caf.
  18. Sometimes you just need to wear red lipstick (or purple or any other color lipstick, but especially red) because it makes you feel confident and good about yourself.
  19. Don’t try to do your homework all at once; you’ll just wear yourself out.  Schedule study breaks and little rewards in between daunting projects.  These things can be as simple as taking a shower, folding your laundry, getting a 20-minute nap, or getting to eat that candy bar you’ve been craving all night.
  20. If your meal comes with something that you won’t eat right now but like to eat, such as a bag of chips or an apple, take it anyway and save it for later.  That’s one less snack that you have to buy (or in a way, re-buy).
  21. We all know that pretty much all college students are a day late and a dollar short, and healthy food is expensive.  So you have to take advantage of the healthy foods you can get.  If your cafeteria is buffet style and you have unlimited fruits and salads at your disposal do not take that for granted!
  22. While meals can be a good study break, don’t let them start becoming hour or hour and a half-long habits that keep you from your studying.  Your bedtime is sure to suffer for it.
  23. You need to eat as full of a meal as you can during meal times.  Most of your hours and your meal swipes or dining dollars are accounted for, and you need to get the most out of both.
  24. Sometimes you and your roommate(s) each need to lay in her respective bed and you need to just talk with the lights out before bed.  It’s just needed.
  25. You’re not too cool to dress warm for the winter.  Everyone has hat hair; it’s a fact of life.
  26. The secret to surviving the sauna indoors and the polar vortex outdoors is dressing in layers.
  27. College dorms are incubators for germs.  You have to take care of yourself better than you would at home with your family.  There are way more people who can get you sick, your living quarters are much more enclosed, and you have to walk through the negative windchill to get to and from class.
  28. Get your stuff organized before your registration for second semester classes opens.  You’ve got a much better chance of things going smoothly if you know exactly which classes you’re looking to take- even down to the hour and prof if possible.
  29. Sometimes you might need to literally budget your time out hour by hour, especially if you have an extra busy night, weekend, week, what-have-you.  You’ll get way more done and have extra time to have fun and relax!
  30. You’ve got to get motivated.  Things don’t just get done one their own, and you don’t have a magical wand to wave and say “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” and make everything right.  The hard work pays off.
  31. Not all roommate relationships are the same.
  32. Sometimes it’s okay to not go to class.  It doesn’t make you a bad person if you don’t go every once in a while, especially if you have a legitimate reason.
  33. Your professors are human beings, too.  And they were once in your shoes!  They understand more than you think they do.
  34. Some of the things you learned in high school are going to get turned upside down.  Deal with it.
  35. Just because they graduated high school doesn’t mean they’ve left it behind.
  36. 20 minutes is actually a lot of time.
  37. Everyone has different peak points in their lives.
  38. Psychology is the most useful class you took in high school.  It literally applies to everything.
  39. You appreciate the teachers who taught you well more than you curse those who didn’t.
  40. Your first impressions of people can and will be wrong.
  41. Sometimes you can’t remember how you met some of your best friends- you just fall together naturally.
  42. That one grade that you got on that one thing doesn’t define who you are as a person.
  43. Things that mattered so much in high school don’t matter all that much in college.
  44. Time moves so much faster in college.  You blink and your first semester is already over.  But on the upside, you have so much more time to get things done on your own schedule!
  45. The best roommate situations are the ones where you have enough in common to talk and even enjoy things together but not so much that you’re stepping on each others’ toes.
  46. Having a roommate is a unique relationship unlike any other.  There is no way to compare it to something.  You just have to experience it.
  47. Mexican telenovelas are addicting.
  48. Sometimes you need to just sleep in your bra and some shorts (or your own pair of boys’ superhero boxers…whichever you prefer).  And sometimes you need to make mac n’ cheese at 1 a.m.  It’s just a thing.
  49. Treat yourself sometimes!  Sure, don’t blow your entire budget, but if you ace that test, you’ve earned a cupcake from the bakery or the silly $5 t-shirt you’ve had your eye on or the coffee drink that you love but is $1 too many to get every day.
  50. As different as college is from high school, the adjustment really doesn’t have to be that much of an “adjustment.”  But everyone has a different experience transitioning to college, and you need to respect that.



Hey, it’s Vivaz 😛 And here are the things I learned MY first semester 😀 Enjoy!!!


  1. Making friends takes work. Join a church or a club. Talk to the kids in your discussion group.
  2. For heaven’s sake, avoid the ice cream stand in the campus union!
  3. Not having a boyfriend is NOT the end of the world.
  4. Not having sex is not the end of the world.
  5. Not going to frat parties does not make you “not cool” or a “loser.” The good news is, the only people who will know you don’t go to the frat parties are the people you tell and you. This isn’t high school. Everybody DOESN’T know everything about everybody else.
  6. Don’t go home every weekend. You may think you want to, heck, you may actually want to. But don’t do it. Weekends are when you meet people, hang out, and make friends.
  7. Living on campus is great. I highly recommend it.
  8. Not caring about your school’s sports teams doesn’t make you a bad member of the student body… not at least pretending to care does. Support your school, girl!
  9. Go to the games. Even if you don’t enjoy sports, go. They’re fun. And they’re about so much more than the actual game (don’t believe me? Look up YouTube videos of UW-Madison’s Jump Around… that’s the real reason people go to the football games!)
  10. Try new things. Nothing you are morally opposed to (obviously), but try new things.
  11. The only people who talk about getting drunk are freshmen. If you want to look like a freshman, by all means, talk about how trashed you got last Friday.
  12. Getting drunk does not make you cool. Everyone gets drunk (OK, not everyone, but a lot a lot a lot of people get drunk).
  13. There is nothing wrong with being the sober one at a party. It doesn’t make you a square, it makes you smart… and if you take pictures of everyone for blackmailing purposes, it makes you a GENIUS. “Hey, dude, I don’t have a ticket for the game. Think you can get me one?” “Naw, man, I don’t even know if I’m going.” “Remember last Friday… no? Didn’t think so… allow me to refresh your memory *whips out phone with picture from last Friday* Wanna get me a ticket to the game?”
  14. Blackmail is not cool. I didn’t learn this in college… it’s just common knowledge. But I felt like I should put this in here…
  15. In a lecture-style class, suck up to your TA not your professor… it’s your TA who grades your papers and tests. Your professor has no idea who you are.
  16. Don’t shoot for the 4.0. Businesses generally don’t hire 4.0 students anyway (it shows they either have no people skills because they were always studying or they went to a school/took classes that was/were too easy for them). Have fun. Live life. Study, of course. But there is nothing wrong with ABs and Bs. College is so much more than grades.
  17. Check the balance on your debit card. Often.
  18. Talking to people who have different beliefs, lifestyles, and backgrounds is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself.
  19. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a healthy amount of kiss-assing. Your GPA will love you for it.
  20. Sleep is so very, very important. And there is nothing uncool about choosing to go to bed at 8 on a Friday instead of going to a party.
  21. Showering in public showers isn’t so bad after all… just remember your flip flops and try to ignore the hair on the walls and in the drain.
  22. Taking your gen eds your first semester is not a good idea (I didn’t experience this… but I have friends who did). Take fun classes that satisfy basic requirements, but don’t take your math and science and English classes your first semester. You’ll be miserable.
  23. Wearing your pajamas to class is not socially acceptable. At least, not at my school.
  24. Wearing your pajamas to class is not classy. And this applies everywhere.
  25. Taking BuzzFeed quizzes on your laptop instead of taking notes is perfectly alright.
  26. Just kidding. Don’t do that.
  27. Depending on the class, reading the textbook is optional. I didn’t get a grade lower than an AB in any of my classes this semester and I stopped reading all my textbooks in the middle of October. Go to lecture, pay attention, ask questions, and you’ll be fine.
  28. Participate in discussion. State your opinions and don’t be afraid of people who counter them… that’s how you learn.
  29. It’s surprisingly easy to gain weight (confession: I gained five pounds in November! Yikes! I’ve since dropped them, but the point is, you can gain weight without knowing it.)
  30. Things you’re afraid to do because you think they may be “weird” are probably OK to do… people do LOTS of weird things in college.
  31. When there are four empty stalls and one occupied stall in the bathroom, for heaven’s sake, DON’T take a stall right next to the occupied one. Maximize privacy as much as possible.
  32. In high school, sitting alone and walking alone was the kiss of death in the social world. In college, that rule doesn’t apply. Walking alone, eating alone, studying alone… no problem! Everyone does it.
  33. Being alone in general isn’t a problem. In fact, it becomes a very welcome (but rare) phenomenon.
  34. Ignoring people you know is immature and something you (should) leave behind in high school.
  35. Spending money ceases to be fun.
  36. Not all professors are big scary jerks who don’t care about their students… I had a professor bring candy the day before Halloween and toss it to all the students in the lecture hall… all 400 of us.
  37. After a semester without math, the thought of having to take a math class is worse than knowing you have a test the next day.
  38. Homework that is worth points is one of the nicest things professors can do for you.
  39. The only thing more stressful than a test is a test in a class where tests are the only contributing factors to your final grade.
  40. Doing homework is really, really, really important. And turning it in late is (rarely) an option.
  41. Not everyone you meet and hang out with is going to be a life-long friend. And that’s OK.
  42. It’s OK to have beliefs that are different than those of other people on your campus… because, chances are, there are more people than just you who have those beliefs.
  43. Standing up for your beliefs is cool… and it’s not social suicide. Because so what if the kids in your poli sci class don’t like you and disagree with your beliefs? I can bet you any money there’s a club or church on your campus that perfectly fits your beliefs.
  44. Small classes are fun but they’re more work than lectures… and you can skip lectures. You can’t really skip small classes… at least, not without consequences.
  45. Don’t let small differences between you and your roommate get in the way of you having a good relationship. After all, (s)he’s not going anywhere any time soon.
  46. You will, believe it or not, miss your family. You may not want to be at home, but at one point or another you’ll want to be around them.
  47. You will realize how easy you had it back at home: free laundry, free food, barefoot showers…
  48. Taking time to contact long-distance friends is well-worth the effort. After all, make new friends but keep the old… one is silver and the other, gold.
  49. The difference between an 89 and a 90 is the most annoying difference in the whole wide world.
  50. College is not really school, it’s a life experience. Grades are important but not as important as you think they are when you first moved in. It’s the connections you make, the people you meet, the life lessons you learn, the knowledge you gain, and the memories you make that really make college important. It doesn’t have to be stressful and full of all-nighters and tears.

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