Be prepared to make some adjustments during your freshman year of college—especially in the first semester. Here are some challenges you may face:

131022_EQuest_037Feeling out of place and lonely

When you get to college, you may find it difficult to stay close to your high school friends because they no longer share your experiences. You may also get homesick. To gain a sense of belonging, attend freshmen orientation activities, get involved in extracurricular activities, and find a part-time job. Don’t wait for opportunities and people to come to you. Staying busy and meeting new people will make your college experience more enjoyable.

Having less structure

You’ll go to bed and get up later. You’re only in class for three to four hours each day, and those hours are often staggered rather than back-to-back. You’ll think you have plenty of time to study and will have an urge to procrastinate. Instead, use the time between classes to review notes and study, and get plenty of sleep each night.

130419_EQuest_082Reading more

Talk to any current college student and they’ll tell you the reading is “huge!” To avoid becoming overwhelmed, set small goals (10 pages at a time), and take short periodic breaks.

Studying

You’re going to have to study – even if you got by without studying in high school. Develop study strategies early on so you don’t feel overwhelmed when that first test comes around. Get assignments done in the order they’re due, find a study spot where you can focus, and take notes while reading to retain the information.

Gaining weight

You’ve probably heard people complain about dorm food. But eating in the dining halls is convenient and the food is plentiful and usually pretty tasty. Combine this with a more sedentary lifestyle than high school, and it’s no surprise that many students gain weight their first semester. To combat this, choose healthy options at dining halls, avoid late-night and sugary snacks and use your college’s recreation center. Read this article for suggestions of healthy snacks, and check out How to Stay Healthy in College for more tips.

131022_EQuest_003Getting your grades

“Wow, what happened?” Many freshmen ask that question when they get their first set of grades. Your professor will give you a syllabus at the beginning of the class.  It’s up to you to follow it. You won’t get reminders about due dates for reading assignments or term papers. Keep track of due dates, talk to professors or a tutor when you’re struggling, and talk to your academic advisor to make sure you’re on track with your class schedule.

Feeling overwhelmed

All these changes can be overwhelming. You’ll feel pressured to make new friends right away, decide what you want to do with the rest of your life and keep track of day-to-day assignments all at once. You don’t need to have all the answers immediately upon entering college. There are resources all over campus that will help you make your college experience fun, successful and rewarding.