Five College Freshmen – A Day In The Life
My College Guide got in touch with five students at colleges and universities across the country shortly after they completed their freshman year. We thought you might like to hear about a day in the life of actual students——how they balance classes studying and a social life. Read on for an invaluable peek into the life of real first-year students.
Florida State University; Tallahassee Fla.
Major: International Studies
Interests: Greek life, community service, hanging out with friends, movies
A long-term interest
Molly has learned to stay ahead of the game. She says, “First semester of my freshman year was incredibly overwhelming.” But one English class in particular stuck out from the rest: “From Erykah Badu to Timbuktu.” Little did Molly know that the final assignment creating a blog would turn into a daily activity!
Besides blogging Molly has quite the balancing act. “In high school I always bit off way more than I could chew and didn’t know how to say no to anything,” she admits. Molly knew that college would be tough. “Instead of joining every single club or organization on campus I chose three that were very important to me and dove into them head-on.”One of those organizations happened to be Gamma Mu the sorority to which Molly attributes her college success. “While living in a dorm was definitely a great experience nothing helped me adjust to university life more than joining my Greek organization,” she states.
The adjustment to college was rough. “I was that little girl who was too afraid to go to sleep-away camp because I didn’t want to leave my parents. Needless to say leaving home wasn’t exactly easy for me,” she confides. But for Molly the support of her sorority helped to ease her adjustment.
Even by limiting her activities Molly still has to make time for college coursework. “I like to review my class material every day for about an hour just so all the information stays fresh and I’m not lost the next time I have to sit in the lecture hall. I’ve had to become very self-motivated in order to do well in my classes and have had to give up quite a few fun activities to secure good grades,” she says.
When the weekend hits Molly is ready for “anything not involving a classroom and a No. 2 pencil!” She catches up on sleep works out and spends time with friends. But Sunday means homework and review—until the evening. Says Molly, “My friends and I always get together for movies and lots and lots of candy.”
University of Iowa; Iowa City Iowa
Major: Biology (Genetics Track)
Interests: STAR (Students To Assist with Recruitments), movies, dancing, cheering on the team
A full load
You won’t find Tyler waking up with the sun. This night owl prefers starting his day around 10:30 a.m.—with a larger-than-normal course load! While the regular college student has 12 credit hours Tyler took 15 credits (five courses).
Papers and exams
Although Tyler admits to being a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to writing papers (“I generally do those the night before or [on] their due date”) he’s a bit more prepared for exams. “I begin studying for exams a week or two in advance. I practice last semester’s exams as practice exams and check myself. It’s a good study strategy if the professor provides them.”
Tyler keeps going until 2 a.m. (putting in about four hours of studying each night). “Professors sometimes think that they are the only class giving homework. Sometimes I’ll have two exams problems and a paper due in a two-day period!”
Home may only be an hour and a half away but he sticks around on weekends. You can find him cheering on the Hawkeyes at football games. “I leave the field with a hoarse voice!” he laughs. Otherwise you’ll catch him hanging out with friends playing video games or group hide-and-seek or watching movies.
College is a big adjustment. “Everyone is going through the same thing,” reminds Tyler. “How does the laundry work? Where should we eat? There are some big scary words in college like calculus,” he jokes. “They demand a lot of you but it’s not all stressful.”
Washington College; Chestertown Md.
Major: Political Science and History
Interests: field hockey, Presidential Fellows (a high school honors invitational program), community service
Great day in the morning
No sleeping in for Gabby! At 6 a.m. you will find her joining her field hockey teammates and hitting the gym for strength training. Then she’s off tromping over to her political science class listening to “cool speeches” or the acting class that she took as an elective.
Play hard work hard
Gabby knows how important it is to stay on top of studying and fits it in where she can but with only four classes this semester she doesn’t have to do homework every night. Gabby does however have about an hour’s worth of reading each day that she tackles between games or after practice.Final exams mean plenty of review (she prefers flash cards) which sometimes lasts until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.——if not all night long!
Gabby always packs it up and takes off for the college library when she needs to study. “I need it really quiet,” she states. “My roommate can study while talking to me listening to music and writing on Facebook. Not me! I don’t even bring my computer with me most of the time; it’s a distraction!”
Home sweet home
Gabby might be adjusted to college now—but that wasn’t always the case. She started missing home after the rush of her athletic season ended. “Like most freshmen I went through a phase of homesickness missing my high school friends and my family thinking ‘why am I here?'” But she adapted. “It’s cool to live on my own,” she says.
Rice University; Houston Texas
Interests: student government, squash, club tennis, flag football, intramural racquetball
Dylan and his roommate live in Brown College a residential college at Rice University. Dylan compares his housing experience to that of the wand-wielding spell-casting characters in the Harry Potter books. Like Harry Potter the residential colleges compete in intramural athletic challenges against one another all year long to win the coveted President’s Cup.
Rise and shine
On most days Dylan has to be awake by 8 a.m. With two classes first thing in the morning there’s no time to waste! He grabs lunch in the residence hall before geometry his last class of the day. Dinner is when Dylan can finally slow down socialize and enjoy——some meals last two hours! Compared to the fast pace of college life Dylan says slow-paced meals are a welcome break. He heads to the RA’s (residential assistant) room to watch his favorite TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” or “How I Met Your Mother.” Afterwards he hits the books.
High school came easy to Dylan. He confesses that he “didn’t do much work there at all.” Dylan discovered that college was a lot different! The typical night equates to him spending four hours studying in the big common area of Brown College.
But it’s not all work! “There’s definitely the party aspect like in every college. The residential colleges all throw public parties too. Each college hosts a themed party at some point during the semester.”Looking back Dylan remembers that the workload was shocking. “Classes are hard!” he warns. “They’re much harder than high school. Even if you think you know everything and that it’s going to be easy for you you’re wrong.
Case Western Reserve University; Cleveland Ohio
Major: Biomedical Engineering (Pre-Med Track)
Interests: Greek life sports (biking hiking running), weight lifting, movies, Emerging Leaders, admissions office tour guide and telecounselor
It’s about time
Colin has enough time for break-fast in the morning—his first class Calculus for Science and Engineering Majors doesn’t begin until 10:30 a.m. After that he has Intro to Material Science and Engineering—which he really enjoys. Alternate days bring three hours of lab for his Physics 1— Mechanics course and one elective History of Rock and Roll. “This semester I chose to put all my classes right up against one another because I didn’t feel like I was managing my time well in between,” shares Colin.
Work work work
When he’s not writing papers (he had four 10-page papers this semester) or participating in one of his many extracurricular activities Colin is most likely camping out in his room taking care of assignments as they are due——about five to seven hours of work each week. He says “I have a cool roommate. If either of us needs to study the other one will leave . . . It’s a lot easier to manage than waiting till the end of the week.” Saturday and Sunday Colin sleeps in before playing Frisbee partying reading outside or watching movies. “We’ll grab a projector and put a movie on in our hallway,” he says. “Everybody grabs their pillows and blankets and we make popcorn.”
The college transition
Feeling nervous about the big college move? Colin points out that “there are loads of resources for students to help with the transition. RAs are on each floor. They help you transition to college life assist with [roommate] problem solving and set up social events for residents.”
Just as every college is different so is every student. College is the perfect time to discover new interests so don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone and try new things—just don’t forget to leave enough room in your college day for the really important things (like homework!).
Jessica Nunemaker is the director of social media for My College Guide.