The Joy of Finishing Your Freshman Year of College
According to Educationdata.org, 30% of college freshmen drop out before their sophomore year. If you’re considering joining this percentage, hear me out. You’ve started down the college route, and it isn’t an easy one. It’s a lot of sweat and tears. You’ll hit some bumps in the road. What college dropouts miss out on is where that road can take them.
I’m not going to lie, that first year of college is tough. You’re in a new place doing new things and with little guidance. Just keep going and enjoy the journey. It’s ok to feel a little homesick and a little out of place. It isn’t until that first taste of success after two semesters of sticking to it that you’ll start finding your feet. Locating classes and finding parking gets easier. You get to know people. Overall, college life gets better.
Once you make it to summer break (and you will, as long as you’re willing) you’ll realize why many people past their freshman year stick with it. You’ll be reminded why you’re doing this all in the first place. For me, finishing my freshman year of college was one of the best feelings in the world, and here’s why:
You get to do a Victory Lap
You know that feeling you get after running when you’re short of breath and feel like throwing up? Excluding that part, your first year of college is a lot like winning a marathon. It takes preparation, sorting out enrollment and picking classes. It takes practice, working hard on assignments and studying. Then, when finals come around, all of that hard work finally pays off.
Summer break lies ahead, and a year of college experience is behind you. Now that the marathon is over, you can take a final victory lap reflecting on all of the challenges you’ve overcome. Look back at all you’ve accomplished. Nothing feels better than that sweet relief of finishing a tough challenge, and then basking in the amazing feat.
You’ve Unlocked the Secrets to the Universe…ity
Imagine being able to go back in time to tell the “pre-college you” everything that you know now; to have all of those faulty college preconceptions and irrational fears put to ease. I would have loved to know what lay ahead instead of blindly stumbling through my first year. Sadly, flying DeLoreans still aren’t a thing, and nothing could have prepared you for college. You just have to trust in yourself that you can do this, and really that’s the satisfying bit: looking back and seeing how you’ve grown.
Now that you’ve got a year of experience under your belt, you can go into the next year feeling ready. You know the drill: attending classes, doing homework, and finding time to nap in between. You’ve figured out the secret study spots and the best classes to take. You’re a college pro at this point. The freshmen on campus will be asking you where buildings are and where to buy their textbooks. You’re not just a college newbie anymore; you’re a Fort Hays State tiger. I definitely felt more confident the second go around, and that’s something you have to look forward to.
You Finally Catch a Break
Most college freshmen end their year with summer vacation plans dancing in their heads. Summer break is your reward for two semesters of hard work. It’s several weeks of fun, sun, and freedom from campus life. Even if you take summer classes, the courses are usually shorter and more laid-back than those during the semester.
School doesn’t have to occupy your entire life anymore. You can take the time to kick-back and relax. Clean out your bookbag (it’s a great way to metaphorically and literally rid of the weight on your shoulders). Sleep soundly, knowing you’ve earned it after all of those late nights studying.
You Get a Fresh Start
Maybe your first year of college didn’t go quite as planned. Luckily, each year is all its own. One semester, I felt super overwhelmed and seriously considered dropping out. The next semester I fell back in love with my major and enjoyed going to class. Sometimes you need that break to step back and reevaluate yourself.
If something’s been off this semester, there’s likely a reason for it, and usually a fixable one. Is it the classes you’ve been taking? After a year of experience, you’ll have a better idea of what you want to do with your life. Many people change their major several times before graduating. If you went to college for something and realize it wasn’t what you were hoping for, maybe it’s time to switch things up.
If the problem is your general education classes, you have options there, too. You don’t have to take the same classes everyone else takes. Dig deeper into what’s available and what will count towards your college credit. Remember that once you pass a class, you never have to take it again, so just do your best and get through it.
If you’re feeling lonely or homesick, I’ve got some advice for that too. We all adapt and open up at our own pace. I know it took me a few semesters before I got to know anyone. You’ll meet new people and new professors every semester. Eventually, you’ll find people you connect with. As for homesickness, the first couple of weeks away from home are the worst. Eventually, you’ll come to like your independence. Even so, you can always call someone if you’re feeling down.
Sometimes we mess up and make mistakes that are hard to walk away from. Maybe you failed a class, embarrassed yourself in front of a teacher, or were late getting out of bed each morning. A new year means a new you. You can go forward, propelled by your achievements and informed by your failures. Make changes this year to make things better. This is your college experience. You make it what you want. Even if freshman year wasn’t the best, now that it’s over, you can rejoice in how much better sophomore year is going to be, and you can make new goals and be even more excited for the future.
If you’re struggling with your first year of college, just stick with it. Summer break is coming fast and believe me when I say finishing your freshman year is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s an achievement, it’s a relief, and it’s just the beginning!
Mild-mannered student by day, writer by night... but typically by day, I’m Bailey Werner, current junior and graphic design major at Fort Hays State University. With a passion for storytelling that stemmed from 3rd grade writing hour, I’ve been crafting worlds and characters as a hobby for over a decade. Now, as a part-time content creator for the school, I’m living out my dream of writing professionally. If I’m not in my room reading, gaming, or making art, you can find me at the lake. I strongly believe in the power of storytelling, and I’ll continue to use my writing skills after graduation, in my work as a graphic designer.