Making the Most of Your First Semester in College - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Campus Life
September 4, 2015

Making the Most of Your First Semester in College

The first semester of college is full of so much emotion: the excitement of being in a new place and meeting new friends, the fears that come with navigating classwork and relationships, the anxiety that comes with first tests and papers and challenging thoughts from professors, the joy that comes with new found freedoms and experiences, and the homesickness that might hit as you leave familiar faces and places. All of these emotions are normal in the midst of a huge transition that you encounter as a new student. There are some important things that you can do to help make this transition a smooth one, and really get the most out of your first semester in college.

1. Use the resources on your campus

There are offices and people on your campus who are there to help you as you make this transition. Don’t be afraid to ask for help early in the semester. Whether you need to get a tutor, connect with a counselor, change your major, or change your meal plan, find the office that can help you. During your orientation you will get information on where these offices are located and what they do. Make sure you take note of these places and utilize the services that they offer.

2. Join a club

Most colleges have a variety of clubs that exist to connect you to different hobbies, sports, and majors. This is a great way to connect with people who are interested in the same things you are, and there are usually a lot of great leadership opportunities within these clubs. Look for a list on the website or for a recruitment fair early in the semester to see which clubs your college has to offer.

3. Volunteer in your local community

It is important to develop habits in college that you want to take with you after you graduate. Service to those in your community is a great way to give back, and college schedules often provide more time for you to connect to different opportunities in your community. Volunteer opportunities can also help you confirm the major you are studying, provide you with perspective, and give you a connection to people outside of your college community. So grab some of your new friends and find a way you can serve during your first semester.

4. Join in on the traditions at your school

Colleges and universities have long histories with rich traditions that are great to take part in. Find out about different events and activities that are happening and get connected. If your school has athletic teams go to some games and support your peers. Attend a play or concert put on by students at your college. Take the time to learn your school’s fight song and wear your school’s colors with pride!

5. Meet with your professors

Professors offer office hours and these are great times to meet with them and get to know them. Ask them questions about the readings, find out why they decided to study in their field, and follow up on tests or papers you get back. Take the time to connect with each of your professors early in the semester and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

6. Try something new

College is a great time to explore who you are and try new things. Usually, there are a lot of opportunities to try something new. Try a new sport through intramurals, join a club to learn about something new, try out for a musical group, or explore different places in your local community. Don’t miss out on opportunities to make some new memories and friends as you stretch yourself and try something new.

College is a time when you can really learn and grow as an individual. Jump in during your first semester. Get involved and get connected to the new place you will be calling home.


Missy Nyeholt, Coordinator for Service Learning in the Center for Student Engagement

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