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Things I Wish I Knew As a Freshman

Students walking on the University at Albany campus at twilight.

You might have heard someone say “College is the best four years of your life!” And while I certainly agree that my experience at college was definitely a great one, I know that it is only the beginning. We must remember that the point of pursuing higher education is to prepare us for what comes after college. College is a stepping stone to our futures, but it is not without some stumbles along the way.

Now as I enter the final stretch of senior year (only 3 weeks left) and look back at my time at the University at Albany I realize that those stumbles help you to become the proud graduate who crosses the stage at commencement. With that being said, here are a few pieces of advice I wish I had known as a freshman.

You don’t need all that stuff!

Chances are this may be your first time moving into a dorm, so you don’t exactly know what you will need. There are tons of check lists out there that tell you what to bring to college-which is a good and bad thing. It’s good because it helps to give you an idea of what to pack but it’s bad because you may end of bringing too much stuff. Remember you have limited space to put all your belongings. You really need to look at the things you are planning on bringing and ask yourself, “Will I really use/wear this?”

You’ll make friends, I promise.

Atiba Archibald headshot

Our student assistant Atiba Archibald from the University at Albany

After your parents have left and you are settled into your dorm room, you may be left thinking, “What now?” Most likely you won’t know many people at your school so you may feel a little anxious about meeting new friends. Not to worry, there are plenty of places and chances to meet and connect with new people. Many campuses have events and programs targeted just for freshmen so make sure to go and interact with other people who are in the same position as you.

It’s okay to be undeclared

When I first enrolled at UAlbany, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in. What I didn’t realize then was that this was not a bad thing. Being undeclared allows you to sample various classes in different disciplines so that you can see what does and doesn’t suit you. You are exposed to a lot of subjects that you might not have been able to study before. Eventually I did declare a major that I really enjoyed but that was only after I had the opportunity to explore other options first.

You will step out of your comfort zone

College is all about growth and progression-how can you do that if you are afraid to branch out? Join clubs that peak your interest. Go to performances and cultural showcases on campus that you otherwise might not have gone to. Attend networking events. Join a club you didn’t know existed. Try out for that fashion show. Run for student government. You never know what can happen and who you might meet.

Don’t procrastinate

Staying up until the wee hours of the morning because you left a big assignment until the last possible day isn’t fun. Even if you have all the coffee and energy drinks in the world. It wrecks havoc on your body and the stress could even cause you to make careless mistakes that can cost you points. Professors give out syllabuses on the first day of class that have a calendar of all the assignments and projects over the course of the semester. So make sure you it plan out!

The summer counts too

Just because it’s the summer time doesn’t mean you can slack off! Of course you can hang out with your friends and go to the beach-but don’t forget to keep your future in sight. Instead of getting a retail job at the mall, you should try to get a summer internship or volunteer in the industry you are pursuing a career in. This is a great way to get more experience and also gives you the opportunity to see what it’s really like to work in the “real world”.

Cherish the time you have!

While it may seem like four years is a long time, in reality it isn’t. When you are so involved in class work, clubs, organizations, and internships you may forget to sit back and actually take in what you are doing. You get so caught up in campus life and fail to realize that this only a temporary piece of your life. Eventually you are going to walk across the stage at commencement and get the degree that you worked hard for. So cherish all the moments that you have, while you have them!


To all graduating students out there: what have you learned about college life in your years at school? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter.

What tips do you have for the next batch of SUNY students?

Posted by SUNY – The State University of New York on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Atiba Archibald

Written by Atiba Archibald

Atiba was an intern with SUNY's Office of New Media, who became a University at Albany graduate in English with a minor in Communications.




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There are 4 comments

  • Lola says:

    One of my biggest regrets was not getting more involved in college. I waited until my senior year to join any groups and it was such a mistake. I was always envious of my friends who branched out but it was so hard for me to leave my comfort zone. I wish I would have joined more clubs and organizations. Great article!

  • Joe says:

    This was a great article, very informative for freshman’s. I remember my four years of college, one of the most important things for me was living in on campus in a dorm and not having to rent. living in a dorm definatley helps with the social aspect of growing but also bypasses a lot of the stress that comes with having to rent an apartment. Although I must say having to deal with a broken AC unit for all four years,really sucked. especially when you live in Florida…….. not fun

  • Sal Dawson says:

    I personally have met some people who were afraid to say they were undeclared. I never saw it as a bad thing, I actually think it’s a smart move to figure out what you want and are good at first. That’s what university life is about anyway!
    On the topic of internships – yes, yes and yes. I could never say how much my internship that first summer has shaped my believes and interests, not to forget that it filled out my contact list so quick! Good luck to all freshmen 🙂

  • steve says:

    LIving in the dorms the first year is critical. As is maybe having one or two people you know in advance who are going to the college. Even if you only see them a few times in the first weeks, it makes it SO much easier to make friends as you go along. Great article for a really stressful time.

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