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Making the most out of your freshman year in college

By: Sarah Rohan, LMHC

Entering college is an exciting time to experience new things, meet new people and expand your knowledge.
Most students need a little time to adjust to their new home away from home. Many college freshman make
the false assumption that everybody else has it all together, but most new students are struggling and trying
to figure things out, too.

Here are a few suggestions to help you thrive during your first year of college.


So, you have finally arrived at your college, ready to start the academic year. It is easy to get overwhelmed and you might want to hibernate and decompress in your room. When we are anxious, we may have a desire to avoid new situations that are causing us to feel nervous. However, if we allow ourselves to push through the discomfort, and get out of our comfort zone, we tend to feel better and less isolated. First, start with talking with your roommate(s), get to know them better, be friendly to people in your dorm, spend time in the common areas, and see if you can get to know a few people this way.

Take advantage of the first two weeks; students, just like you, are feeling anxious, uncertain, and lonely. Be sure to take part in activities specifically geared towards freshman students. In addition, most colleges and universities have a Recreation and Wellness Department. This department is responsible for creating fun events for students that promote wellness and connection. Find this department on your college website and follow it on social media so you can find out about upcoming events. The fringe benefits of these events often include free food and free stuff!


Initially, spend time getting to know your roommate, as you are both sharing a room together. Talk about common interests, goals, and expectations. Doing this helps you know what is important to your roommate which will increase your understanding and comfort level with this new person in your life. This sets the tone for good communication with one other. Discuss each other’s perspectives on cleaning, noise, studying, sharing things, and inviting people over.

Be open-minded and realize you may have different habits and schedules. Set boundaries where you need to and be open to compromise. Also, you may not like the same music, movies or shows, so headphones are a great way to coexist while you both enjoy your own interests. Most importantly, be considerate and respectful of your roommate and their space and hopefully that effort will be reciprocated.


There are countless studies that show a correlation between these three areas and optimal physical and mental health. Sleep, exercise, and healthy eating are beneficial in several ways. These include: an increase in attentiveness and focus, academic improvement, decrease in fatigue, improvement in our ability to manage stress, better memory, improvement in mood and our immune system as well as an increase in overall energy. Prioritizing sleep, exercise and nutrition will help you feel better physically and emotionally.


This can be so helpful during your freshman year. Explore interests and try different clubs, organizations, and activities. Most colleges and universities have a wide array of groups to explore. Groups can vary from social groups to religious, activist, political, arts and many other things you may have an interest in. There is a good chance that you will make new friends and feel more connected to your interests and your school.


There will be times when you are tempted to give yourself a break or go out with friends, instead of going to class. However, you want to be aware of the attendance policies for all your classes because multiple absences can seriously impact your grade. Even if the professor has a lenient attendance policy, there is a possibility that you will miss important information such as a study guide, extra credit, or new information on an exam. Going to class also gives you the opportunity to bond with new people, and you may end up really liking the professor and/or the class.


It is important to stay connected to your already established support system. This usually consists of family and friends. Their support is important throughout college but especially, in the first few months. Reach out and call family and friends to check in and chat, get support, and share new experiences. If you have difficulty with different schedules, plan a weekly call that is mutually practical. Whether it is a call, Facetime, text, or message through social media, find ways to stay in contact.


College is an exciting and fun experience, but it also can be filled with challenges and difficult transitions. It is important to prioritize your mental health; some of the ways of doing this are mentioned above such as exercising, healthy eating, staying connected to your support system and decreasing isolation. 

Also, college students find journaling, meditation, or yoga helpful. If you feel you have tried different strategies on your own and don’t feel an improvement in your mental health, it is important to seek help. Many students utilize counseling for a variety of reasons and many of them are very open about it. Therapists are trained to help you work through difficult times. They can help you with depression and anxiety, as well as, family difficulties, academic stress, relationship issues, and self-esteem concerns.

Seeking help is a sign of strength and can improve your overall well-being and quality of life.

Click on this link – to get connected to a counselor today.

Written by Sarah Rohan

From Monica's bio...

I believe that our journey is filled with many unimaginable turns and twists. The key is to understand just how to deal with every single turn without losing our path. I know this first hand, not only from having relocated from a different country into the United States but also from having lived in different states from New York to New Jersey and finally Florida where I have settled with my family and children.

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