Your first year of post secondary school can definitely be a rollercoaster. Meeting new people, joining clubs, experiencing a different way of learning, and living on your own for the first time. There are many lessons to be learned throughout your time in college, and many of them during your first year. Here are 5 lessons I quickly learned in my first year.

Lesson #1 Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

This is something you’ve likely heard a million times from upper year students, but I really can’t stress it enough. I definitely struggled with my courses in first year, and for a while, I was way too nervous to go to office hours, tutoring sessions, or reach out to my peers. It took failing my first calculus midterm me to seek resources. Part of my recovery stemmed from talking to upper-year students and eventually, realizing that everyone stumbles, and that’s perfectly okay. There are so many resources available, especially for first years. Just remember, you’re adjusting to a whole new life, and you don’t have to do it alone. Attend tutoring, go to office hours, and ask upper-year students who have taken your courses what they did to succeed

Lesson #2 Good Friends Don’t Always Make Good Roommates

As someone who moved in with my high school friends when I moved to university, I learned this one very fast. I love those friends as people, but living with them was a whole different animal. The thing is, being friends with someone doesn’t give you a huge idea of how they live (cleaning habits, noise level, etc.). This is why when your college matches you with roommates, they typically give you a survey about your habits and interests. Having a similar conversation with the friends you want to live with can be super useful in deciding whether or not living together is a good idea. 

Lesson #3 Study What You’re Passionate About

Switching programs in college is totally normal and actually super common. Although I’ve never switched my program, I have switched out of courses halfway through the term for no reason other than that I didn’t enjoy them. If you aren’t studying something you’re passionate about, you likely won’t have motivation to go to class everyday, so I encourage you to change your courses or major as needed to make sure you’re studying something you actually care about!


It’s incredibly easy to get off track with spending when moving to a new city. Everyone around you will be introducing you to new food places and there’ll be tons of events to attend. Keeping an eye on your spending is super important because it’s easy to go overboard, and you want to make sure you can still afford those textbooks! Making small changes in your spending like using free resources or buying used textbooks can be a huge money saver. 

Lesson #5 Balance is Key

You can’t hole yourself up in your room 24/7 studying, but you also can’t hangout with friends every night. Step 1 to accepting this is throwing away any prior expectations you had about college. In reality, different lifestyles work for different people, and college is all about finding your own personal balance between school, social life, and extracurriculars. So don’t bite off more than you can chew in first year, but also don’t be afraid to get involved! 

As you adjust to your first year, I’m sure you’ll find these lessons to be true. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to figure it all out right away. There’s plenty of years ahead to do that!

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