Hey Vikings! Your first year of college (or first year at Salem State) is almost officially over! What a great achievement! I hope you are all extremely proud of yourselves! I’m sure a lot of you are looking forward to the summer so that you can take a break from school. Before you decompress and enjoy those warm sun rays, reflect on this past year and acknowledge how much you have grown as a person. I learned a lot in my first year, which helped me succeed even more as a sophomore! Here are 3 things that I learned from my first year, which will hopefully help you too!
1.) It is completely okay to ask for help.
When I entered college, there was a lot of pressure on me from my parents, family friends, peers and media to have the “perfect” college experience. They assumed I would have a million friends, explore Salem all of the time, and breeze through school. While every year at Salem State became a little bit easier and a little more fun, I struggled a lot in my first year. Adjusting to living on campus was difficult, I had difficulty making friends, and I did not understand my psychology honors class at all. Therefore, I utilized every resource on campus; I used the First Year Experience Office, the Writing Center, a Peer Tutor, Counseling & Health Services, and even Career Services. These resources made my first year a lot easier, so don’t be afraid to reach out for support!
2.) Perseverance: Can we do it? Yes we can!
I think we can all agree that college is a lot of work. Not only are we trying to keep up with assignments, papers and tests, but a lot of us juggle family matters, relationships, friends, work and more. When the workload becomes overwhelming, it can be easy to shut down. However, do not give up! Hard work pays off. I hope you look back at this year and say, “wow, there were times where I was worried that this wouldn’t work out, but I made it. I accomplished so much!” Whenever you’re thinking about giving up, remember to lean on your support systems and reach out to the resources on campus. There are so many people at Salem State who can help keep you motivated!
3.) Balance is key.
A big thing you learn in college is how to balance all of the things in your life. The first thing I had to balance was how often I talked to my family, since this was the first time I was away from them. For some students, they are really close to their family/peers/etc., so they like to talk to their family/peers/etc. every day, which is great! For other students, they text their family/peers/etc. once a month. Everyone has a different preference for how much they want to talk to their families/peers/etc., so find a schedule that works for you!
The second thing I had to balance was homework and spending time with friends. In my first year, it seemed like my friends were always exploring on the weekends and I was doing homework. It is important to make homework a priority, but hanging out with friends here and there is a great way to take a break and destress. For me, I like to do my homework during the day, so that I have the night time to relax and enjoy the company of my friends.
I know some students worry that if they decline too many offers to explore due to homework, their friends won’t ask them to hangout anymore. If this is one of your concerns, have a conversation with your friends. Tell them that you care about them and you do want to hangout with them, you just have a lot of homework; your friends will understand and even better, they’ll probably be proud of your desire to work hard. Another possible solution is to set aside specific time during the week/weekend to hangout with your friends. Maybe it is getting dinner in the dining hall every day with your friends or maybe every Saturday night is designated to your friends. This way, you are able to see your friends, but still get homework done. Life is a balancing act, but there are many ways to find that balance.
These are a few of the many things that I learned my first year. I have taken these lessons with me throughout my college career, and my hard work has paid off. Taking the lessons you learned from your first year can be applied to future years in college and life itself! So remember to reflect on what you learned this year and pat yourself on the back for all of your achievements.
Good luck with finals and have an awesome summer!