6 Things I Learned My First Year of College

The first year of college is an intense, wild, exciting, overwhelming journey into semi-adulthood. Thankfully, we can rely on people who’ve been through it to offer some tips on how to make the most of the bizarro experience. Here’s some wise advice from one of our readers: 

1. Don’t Just Sign Up For Classes. 

Of course you want to focus on school stuff, but the first year of college is also about trying new things outside of class. Join the marching band, or a sorority, or even the college paper. Just get out there! I proudly marched for the University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks for three solid years. Being a part of such a diverse group of individuals allowed me to be myself and make lifelong friends.

2. Use the Student Center. It’s There For a Reason.   

The student center is usually where you’ll find posters and flyers for awesome, upcoming events on campus. I remember just wandering around UNO’s student center and coming across a poster for a band named LUDO. Not only was it a great outside concert, I got to meet with the members for a solid five minutes, and got a free signed CD! The coolest events on campus are often times either free or really cheap, too, so it totally pays to be in the know.

3. Focus on your creativity. 

I am a writer, so I found various flyers regarding the campus’ new online WRWS magazine and got involved. I later found myself a part of a writers’ workshop, which ultimately gave me the confidence to get my work out there for publication. There is definitely a group on campus that’ll help shape your talents, you just have to seek it out.

4. Don’t be intimidated by your professors.  

I love poetry. When I walked into my first poetry studio class, I felt uncomfortable and barely came out of my safe little bubble. My professor told me that she wanted me to push the envelope entirely on my last assignment, and I risked a lot to bring her my best work. She not only gave me a good grade, but she now mentors me from time to time and urged me to get my poem published (which I did).

5. Don’t spend all your time studying.   

When you look back on school, you’ll remember all those great nights out just as much as those all-nighters you pulled. Don’t miss out on those amazing moments to socialize. Not everyone studies all the time. Nor should they. I spent my weekends with my family, with my boyfriend, at football games, at bars, dancing, playing video games with friends. My life would feel so incomplete if I had spent all that time exclusively learning math equations.

6. Keep any school book that holds a deeper meaning for you

I kept every poetry book and English textbook I ever used in college. Who knows? I may want to reference a source from time to time, and I may regret throwing out that one book with a poem that I absolutely fell in love with. Right now, I’m rereading Sharon Olds’ Satan Says, a book I adore, that I only own because I took a class where it was required reading. That’s the beauty of college: it’s full of surprises. You never know what’s going to stick with you for life.

Amanda B. Hansen is a professional student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the Writers Workshop. She is also a full-time order filler at Oriental Trading Co. She has day to day battles between reading, writing, Netflix and Mortal Kombat. She can most always be found with her amazing boyfriend or online. Follow her @mandabword. And on Tumblr: blushpoetryportfolio.tumblr.com

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