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10 Things I'd Tell My Freshman Self

Education abroad students stand in front of the Great Wall of China with a UW flag.
Studying abroad at UW can be the most rewarding experience for a college student. These Education Abroad students traveled to China for an experience of a lifetime.

Before you begin reading this list, I first want to say that the majority of the things I wish I could tell my freshman self can all fit under one category: BE OUTGOING! This seems to be a trend not only in college life but in life as a whole. When older generations are asked to reflect on their lives, they almost always say something related to, “I wish I would have done more.” So, if you get anything out of this list, let it be the idea that you should strive to have no regrets during your university experience.


1. Meet one new person a day 

The number one thing I wish I could tell my freshman self would be to set a goal of meeting one new person every day. This simple yet extremely effective tactic can not only help you gain connections for your future endeavors, but it can lead to lifelong friendships. Don’t just stop at “Hey, how’s it going?” – try to get to know the person. You can even exchange phone numbers or social media accounts with each other if you feel it’s OK. Whether it’s someone in your residence hall, one of your classes, or someone standing in front of you in line at the Union Starbucks, make it a goal to meet one new stranger every day.

Male and female student conversing 

 

2. Go to as many events as possible 

The next thing I wish I could tell my freshman self would be to go to as many university events as possible. Whether it’s a basketball game, a public speaker or a random club giving away free food, you should GO! You never know who you might meet or what new interest you might come across. Heck, even if you don’t meet anyone new or find a hidden passion, youll still get some free food. You can find tons of campus events here.

UW students cheering on football team in War Memorial

 

3. Plan to study abroad 

As corny as it sounds, studying abroad changed my life. I got the chance to study at the University of Hawaii at Manoa through the National Student Exchange Program. While I didn't’t study internationally, I still learned priceless life lessons, met lifelong friends and discovered my true self. You can check out a video from my exchange experience in Hawaii here. I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone. You can find everything you need to know about education abroad here.

 


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4. Learning takes place inside and outside of the classroom 

This is something I think everyone can utilize. Yes, it’s obviously important to go to class, study hard, earn good grades and learn new things; however, there are a lot of things to learn outside the classroom, too. College is a place where you can find out who you truly are as a person. You learn how to deal with relationships, how to live independently, how to manage your time and so much more. Go into college knowing that you’re going to be learning valuable lessons both inside and outside of the classroom.

Woman kayaking 

 

5. Build a schedule that supports a healthy lifestyle 

Your freshman year of college has finally come and it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for your whole life; you finally get to move out of your childhood home and live independently! This is the perfect time to create a schedule that both encourages a healthy lifestyle and can stick with you forever. I had absolutely no personal schedule the fall semester of my freshman year and because of that, I only did all right in my classes.

When I came back for the spring semester, I knew I had to change. I built a daily schedule around my class times that allowed time for some personal reading, an hour-long workout, three meals, ample study time, an hour of leisure AND eight hours of sleep. Here’s an example schedule from my freshman year:  

Student's daily schedule

 

6. Use the UW campus resources 

The on-campus and online resources were some of the most underrated aspects of my freshman year. During my senior year at UW, I finally realized not only how helpful those resources are, but how many of them there are. From tutoring to Half Acre equipment rentals to IT help, UW offers some incredible student resources. The llibrary itself has countless resources. You can check out everything the library has to offer here and some of University’s the online student resources here.

Outside shot of COE library

 

7. Take classes that are difficult and classes that are unrelated to your major

This is not easy, but totally worth it in the end. Some of the hardest classes I ever took (which were not very fun at the time) ended up being some of my favorites. They became my favorite classes because they challenged me, and they showed me what I was capable of if I truly put in the work to learn. Passing a tough class is only going to make you better in every aspect! Taking classes unrelated to my major is something I never actually did, but I wish I did. If you’re an engineering major, take a social studies class for an elective (if it fits into your degree plan, of course). You might be surprised at what new passions you discover.

Female student student in class

 

8. Go out of your way to get to know your professors  

Despite common beliefs, professors are actually human beings just like us (some of the nicest and coolest human beings too, I might add). Don’t just mosey through college without getting to know your professors. Send them an email introducing yourself or telling them how much you like their class or even how you hope the football team gets a bowl game this season. You can also visit them during office hours and just chat in their office or speak with them after class. In short, go out of your way to get to know your professors. 

 

9. Play intramural sports

Some of my favorite college memories come from playing intramural sports with my friends. I didn't’t start playing until my senior year, but I wish I would have played every semester during my time at UW. Some of the most popular sports include football, soccer and basketball  but there are so many more! Check out the IM website here for more information. 

Intramural volleyball team

 

10. College goes by FAST 

To wrap this list up, I wish I could tell my freshman self just how quickly college goes by. As my final semester of undergraduate winds down, I feel like I just moved in as a freshman yesterday. The past four years came and went so incredibly fast and I wish I could just go back in time and relive it all over again. As you make your way through college, there will be days that feel long and lectures that feel like they may never come to an end, but don’t let that stop you from having fun, making memories and enjoying some of the best times of your life. As a young man once famously said while he was taking a shower, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 

via GIPHY

 

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