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Tips for College Freshmen: Dos and Dont's of Your First Year

Read Time 6 mins | Written by: Cairn Admissions

College is a time of significant transition and change. It comes with many firsts and is vastly different from high school.

Knowing how to make the best use of your first year can be challenging with all of these changes. What should you avoid? What should you strive to accomplish? Read on to see our best tips and tricks for first-year college students and how you can use this time to set yourself up for success for the rest of your life. 

20 Tips for Incoming College Freshmen:


1. Get Involved On Campus 

Getting involved on campus is a great way to connect with fellow students and make friends. Beyond just exploring your interests and trying new things, you’ll connect with people outside your major and your year of school. Taking the time to get into campus life is a great way to find mentors and understand what your future in college can look like. 

Explore Cairn University’s student clubs and organizations

2. Go to Class

It can be tempting to skip class, but it’s essential to go. You’re paying for your classes, so you should make the most of them and attend as many as possible. Not to mention, some professors start taking away points from your grade if you miss too many classes. Professors also often drop hints about things that will be on tests or important notes for projects during class time. 

3. Meet Your Professors 

Having a relationship with your professors can make it less awkward if you need to ask for help or extensions later. Plus, professors have an abundance of wisdom in the course material they teach and beyond, so you should take advantage of their knowledge! 

4. Manage Your Time 

College is a time when you have more freedom over your schedule than before. It’s important to find an organizational system that works for you early on. Coming up with a way to make time for your homework, sports, social commitments, and sleep is important. 

5. Explore Your Interests

Whether it’s through your major or your minor, take time in your college years to learn more about your interests. You can even take classes that interest you but are unrelated to your major. Ask your academic advisor about what electives you can take. You’ll probably even make some new friends through those interests. 

6. Make New Friends

College brings people from all over the world together. Through your classes, your dorm, and social events, you’ll get to know people you may have never met otherwise. Take this opportunity to branch out and make new friends. 

7. Ask for Help 

If you find yourself in a tough spot, either academically or personally, it’s better to get help sooner rather than later. It can be scary to ask for help, but your professors, advisors, mentors, and RAs want to see you succeed in this season. They won’t know how to help you if you don’t speak up, so try to advocate for yourself. 

8. Use the School’s Resources 

Lots of colleges have free or discounted services for students’ mental and physical health. If you find yourself needing to talk to someone, be sure to reach out to your school’s counselors. Lots of schools also have tutoring services for students. 

9. Make Peace With Your Roommate

You might get along great with your roommate, or you might find that you don’t vibe with them as well as you hoped. Whatever the case, do your best to live with them well. You’re both in a new circumstance and trying to adjust to the demands of college life, so try to show each other grace. A great way to avoid arguments is to talk early on in the semester about things like cleaning schedules, how you both work best, and what each of you should do if you want to bring friends to your room. 

10. Take Care of Yourself 

Taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health is crucial during your first year of college. You’ll be experiencing a lot of changes to your routine and your responsibilities, so it’s important to check in with yourself and see how you’re doing. 

Taking care of yourself can look like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and keeping in touch with your spiritual health. 


1. Miss Class Too Much 

It can be a slippery slope once you start skipping. Make sure to take time away from class if you’re sick or really need a break, but do your best to get there otherwise. Even if you’re unprepared or tired, it’s better to go to class than to miss it. 

2. Isolate Yourself

Try to make an effort to be social, even if you’re shy or introverted. Loneliness can easily set in, and it can become harder to put yourself out there the longer you wait. 

3. Overcommit Yourself 

You’ll be adjusting to a new environment and a new amount of school work, but all the new social opportunities can be too exciting to pass up in college. However, it’s easy to burn out or have important things slip through the cracks if you overcommit yourself in college. 

Learning to say “no” is an important skill to develop in college, and it’s one that will be valuable to your life after college too. 

4. Procrastinate Endlessly 

It’s important to stay on top of your readings and assignments while in college. This might look like doing some homework on the weekends, staying up later, or getting up earlier. Whatever it takes, try to make sure you keep track of what’s due and when so you can keep your grades up. 

5. Eat Junk Food Constantly 

Having a balanced diet is important when you’re in college. Be sure to treat yourself from time to time, but make sure you’re fueling your body well too. If the food in the dining hall gets too repetitive for you, check out some local restaurants or foods that are unique to your college town! 

6. Feel Pressure to Decide on a Major 

It might feel like you need to know what your major is right away and stick to it all four years. However, it’s really common to start college without knowing what you want to major in, and it’s even more common for students to change their major some time in their college years. 

You usually have a year or two to explore programs and decide on a major, so don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out right away. 

7. Neglect Your Spiritual Life 

It’s important to connect with God personally throughout your college experience. A great way to stay consistent in your walk with the Lord is to get involved in a local church. From here, you can join Bible studies and small groups to have people who push you toward Christ. 

8. Lose Touch With Your Friends Back Home 

Even as you make new friends at college, make sure you take time to connect with your friends from back home. They’re probably going through their own changes too, and it’s important that you stay there for each other. 

9. Spend Frivolously 

The freedom that college brings can make it tempting to spend your money on a lot of things. Now is a great time to get really good at building a budget that works for you and sticking to it.

10. Forget to Take It All In

Your freshman year is a special time, and one that you only get once. Make sure you do everything you can to enjoy it to its fullest and make lots of memories. Don’t spend all your time studying, but also don’t spend all your time socializing and missing out on the cool things you can learn as you go deeper into your coursework. 

Cairn University: Helping Freshmen Thrive 

At Cairn University, we believe Christian community can transform your college experience. That’s why we put Christ and His Word at the center of everything we do, including the freshmen college experience. 

All freshmen participate in our First Year Experience Seminar. Through this course, you’ll get practical tips on how to adjust to college life and how to keep Christ as the foundation of your life through your college years. 

Want to learn more about what life at Cairn is like? Request more information today!

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Cairn Admissions

Cairn University is a private Christian university in Langhorne Manor and Middletown Township, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1913, the university has six schools and departments: Business, Counseling, Divinity, Education, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Music. All students take a minimum of 30 semester hours of Bible classes.