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5 things I wish I knew as a first-year student

Going to college immediately after graduating high school is tough– time flies by, and before you know it, it’s time to leave your family & friends behind. As a first-year, I never knew what to expect and I wish I could go back in time and tell myself everything I know now. Don’t worry if you’re unsure of what to look out for during your first year, I’ve listed some things which you should know during your first year at the University of Rochester.

  1. NEVER skip your meals

This may be hard due to time constraints, but try to make time for 3 meals each day! During my first year in college, I skipped plenty of meals myself without realizing the significant amount of energy being drained out of me every day. You’ll need enough food in your system to do your daily activities such as studying and walking back & forth to classes. You might be worried about “Freshman 15” like many people are, but you’ll be just fine as long as you take good care of yourself! There are many dining options such as Danforth, Douglass, Rocky’s, The Pit, etc. You’re likely to find something that suits your palate. For caffeine lovers, we have Starbucks on campus, so you’re in luck!


2.  Try to attend lectures/office hours

The first week of classes is super fun, but as time passes, you might feel the urge to skip class on lazy days. Whatever you do, try not to give in to that urge because your grades will exponentially get better with time, especially if you attend all your lectures. I personally enjoyed all my classes because the professors make them worth going to, either because of memes in the lecture slides or because of life events relevant to the course material (especially psychology courses). If you ever find yourself struggling with workload/material, you should definitely go to your professor’s office hours as they are extremely helpful. A lot of us are intimidated by the thought of office hours but I’m sure professors don’t mind, so don’t worry about dropping by! Some advice for shy kids: don’t be afraid to ask questions in class, it’s alright to let your voice be heard, and no one’s judging you!

3.  Don’t drain your social battery

You’ll meet a lot of people during your first year of college through clubs, social events, and classes. You’ll also get many invitations to hang out, but you should make sure to preserve your social battery as it drains out very quickly for some people. It’s alright to say no if you can’t make it to an event, but you should never feel pressured to say yes just to fit in. If you ever find yourself feeling socially drained, you should spend some quality time with yourself, doing things that you love and want to do– for some it may be sleeping, creating art, reading a book, or simply watching TV. During my first year, my battery would always be drained by the end of each day, and I would desperately crave some time to unwind. Journaling is another way of unwinding for those of you who like putting your thoughts out on paper– always look out for your mental health! 

4.  Spend as much time as possible with your family

College is hard, but a harder pill to swallow is the fact that no dish will ever come close to your mother’s cooking or your grandma scolding you for skipping meals. So I want you to spend as much time as possible with your lovely family, pets, & friends back home before you come to college. Make sure to eat all your favorite dishes, go to your favorite restaurants, and make good memories! You should also bring something from home to keep close to you such as photos, plushies, and anything else of sentimental value. You’ll miss your family physically being there next to you during birthdays, holidays, and celebrations but always remember that you can keep in touch through video calls and social media!

5.  Don’t overpack

Valuable advice: whatever you do, do not overpack because the wardrobe won’t fit everything. My biggest mistake was bringing in two pieces of luggage full of things I barely used, it was almost like I packed my entire house with me. You should also bring a fan or two because it gets pretty hot in Rochester during the fall, and don’t forget to bring some pillows (most first-year students forget this)! The weather is super unpredictable in Rochester, so make sure you bring clothes for different seasons. Tip for international students: you might want to buy winter clothes/shoes after coming here because there are more options available. There are also shuttles on Saturday that take you to Marketplace Mall, Target, and Walmart so you won’t have to worry about not being able to buy essentials! 

On a final note, I’m pretty sure whatever you do will be fine, just trust your instincts and always look out for yourself! Make every moment count, Yellowjackets! Meliora!


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