The Freshmen Fifteen: College Survival Tips and Tricks for First Year Students

Written by  //  2013/12/09  //  Student Living  //  1 Comment

Starting college is an exciting time, and there is much to look forward to. But there are a lot of things to learn, as well, and figuring it all out can be stressful. Fortunately, many people have gone before you, and the cumulative advice of prior college students is worth paying attention to. Below are some tips and tricks to help you survive your first year as a college student. Be sure to follow these tips for safety and sanity during your first year.

Stay Active

It might not be the first thing you’ll do once you set foot on campus, but once you’re settled in, make sure that physical activity becomes a regular part of your life. As it turns out, studies show that there is an alarmingly high rate of inactivity among Australian college students. Not only can inactivity lead to physical problems like obesity and heart disease, but it can also cause you to become depressed and socially withdrawn, as well. Even if it’s just a twenty minute walk every day, work in some exercise.

Eat Well

Nobody assumes you’ll be eating salads and fruit every day, but do try to work in healthy meals. Many college campuses do have food available, but it’s not always the healthiest food you could be eating. Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for physical, mental, and emotional health, and it also makes you a better student because it provides your brain with the nutrients essential for brain function and learning.


There are many places to study in Perth that are not confined within a college campus. Choosing a place to study that is best for you is the key to success. Some people need absolute quiet and an academic setting, so they study in the library. Others like to be around people and prefer studying at a local coffee shop. Try different locations and see what works for you. Speaking of studying, make sure you keep your classes the focus of your day. Yes, college has a lot of fun activities to offer, and you should take some time off every now and then. But you are going to college to learn, so be sure to devote a good amount of time to your studies. Finish any work you have before you run out the door to socialize.

Stay Organized

With so many classes, all on different schedules and with different requirements, it can become very confusing very quickly if you’re not organized. Set up a system of organization that aids you in keeping track of everything you have to do. Keeping one three-ring binder for each class with dividers indicating lecture notes, test prep, handouts, and syllabus can be the difference between top of the class and barely making it.

Get Your Rest

One of the biggest mistakes that new college students make is not getting enough sleep. With so many new things to do and see, it’s tempting to try to skate by on little to no sleep. But sleep is crucial to cognitive function, and cognitive function is necessary for success in school. Studies have been conducted on the elderly, children, and everyone in between, and the results conclusively show that inhibited sleep leads to lowered cognitive function. So get your rest, no matter what.

Balance is the key to success in college. Whether it’s maintaining a balanced diet or finding the right balance between studying and your social life, it’s crucial that you fall into a pattern of behaviour that allows you to engage in the activities you love while still excelling in your studies. Don’t miss an opportunity to meet your professors during office hours, even if it’s just to introduce yourself; this will show them you’re a serious student. And, of course, sleep on as regular a schedule as possible. Enjoy this exciting time of your life, and remember why you’re there.

William Dawson is an experienced college counselor. He enjoys blogging about important aspects of a successful college student.

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