how to survive your first year of college

Getting Through the Growing Pains — How to Make the Most of Your First Year at College

For university students across America, the first year is a rite of passage. As many graduates will tell you, adapting to college was the first defining experience of their adulthood.

Like many life-changing experiences, beginning your higher education journey can result in feelings of self-doubt. At first, the resulting anxiety might make it seem like college isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

So, how do you quell these qualms and create a thriving college experience? At University of Bridgeport, we have your back. Here’s our best advice for adjusting to life as a new college student.

Be sure to show up

For students beginning their higher education, the independence and freedom of college-life can be incredibly empowering. But it’s not just a line from an old Spiderman flick — great power really does come with great responsibility.

While you won’t be fighting supervillains and slinging webs across campus, you’ll still be juggling a new — and sometimes intimidating — set of freedoms and responsibilities. It can be easy to shut down under pressure or, alternatively, take too much advantage of your newfound independence. Some mornings, you may wake up wondering if anyone will really notice whether you hit snooze and skip your 10 a.m. Psychology lecture.

This kind of thinking can become a slippery slope — posing potential risks to your academic, social, and mental health. If you find your attendance sliding, catch yourself by remembering why you chose to attend college in the first place. Aside from building your knowledge, your classes provide the sense of structure you need to thrive. Furthermore, your time in class creates opportunities to make friends, connect with professors, and immerse yourself in your college community.

Student Survival 101: If you find yourself struggling to meet the rigorous demands of college coursework, don’t worry — University of Bridgeport is here to help you succeed. At the Heckman Center, you’ll find the support you need through academic advising, tutoring, and other student-centered services.

Make an effort to make friends

Showing up isn’t only a matter of making it to your classes — by attending events, joining clubs, and pursuing plans with your peers, you keep yourself at the center of the action. In addition to opening doors to new friendships, getting involved on campus can provide additional structure to your college life, introduce you to leadership opportunities, and expose you to thought-provoking experiences and ideas.

We know it can be scary to acquaint yourself with new faces on campus but keep this in mind: most of your peers are feeling anxious, too. Getting involved and putting yourself out there isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Maybe you’re not ready to join a club but keep an open mind — activities as simple as spending time in the dining hall may lead to encounters that blossom into friendships.

Student Survival 101: At UB, #UBelong! With 60+ clubs and organizations, 16 Division II sports teams, and on-campus events every semester, there’s something for everyone at University of Bridgeport. Pursue your passion at UB — you’re bound to make friends in the process!

Be okay with a little self-doubt — but still ask for help when you need it

Growing pains are natural in every phase of our lives. Adjusting to new expectations can be confusing and exhausting — giving way to imposter syndrome, stress, anxiety, and more.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is practice radical self-acceptance. Don’t judge yourself — love yourself and the journey that you’re on. After all, college is a time of transition, during which you discover what genuinely drives, fascinates, and motivates you. When you embrace the fact that no journey can begin without a little self-doubt, you can detach yourself from negative feelings — focusing instead on developing strategies to adjust and thrive under new circumstances.

We know that embracing the journey can be easier said than done. If you’re struggling to cope with all the changes coming your way, exercise your best self-advocacy. By seeking help through counseling or other support services, you can connect with experts who can help you find your footing, regain your focus, and reclaim your college experience.

Student Survival 101: UB makes your mental health a main priority. Find the support you need through our comprehensive Counseling Services, Fresh Check Day, and other wellness-based events.

Broaden your horizons with new experiences

Sometimes, we find the greatest inspiration in unexpected places. Higher education provides the perfect opportunity to embark on an insightful journey of self-exploration and discovery.
If you’re feeling intimidated, put yourself out there. Be sure not to shy away from the classes, activities, and experiences that may be out of your comfort zone. If it excites you, give it the old college try. You may even create some of your most treasured memories.

Moreover, many of the opportunities that present themselves during college will never be more accessible than they are when you’re an undergraduate. It’s a lot harder to join a dance troop when you’re immersed in a full-time career, so don’t wait on what interests you — add your name to the sign-up list, lace up those shoes, and put yourself out there!

Student Survival 101: With , Purple Knights enjoy endless opportunities to explore new interests and ideas. Not sure what your passion is? Consider declaring an . While it may be intimidating to start your journey without a concrete plan of study, Undecided is one of the best majors you can choose. You’ll have the freedom to dive into whatever excites you — helping you uncover what your true passion is.

Don’t make a habit of hometown visits

Whether it’s home-cooked meals, your high school friends, or the sibling you could have sworn was annoying, you’re likely to miss some comforts of home as a first-time college student. If you have a car, a reliable ride, or live relatively close to campus, you may feel tempted to make every weekend a getaway.

While university students at all levels occasionally feel homesick, this hurdle is usually most significant while you adjust to your first semester. Although occasional visits home can be a healthy coping strategy, try not to make it a habit. If you begin spending every weekend in your hometown, your struggle to adjust to college will only increase; you’ll miss exciting on-campus opportunities, strain your growing social relationships, and struggle to settle into a healthy routine.

Luckily, there are different strategies you can utilize to navigate these feelings. Bringing some of your favorite things to school can help alleviate your anxiety. Whether it’s your record collection, a family recipe book, or a favorite stuffed animal, you’ll feel more at ease when you carry a piece of home with you to campus. You can also schedule regular calls, emails, and video chats with your friends and family. By doing so, you’ll maintain strong ties to your loved ones without impairing your ability to establish new and meaningful relationships.

At UB, #UBelong!

UB proudly embraces the students who call us their home. Your hard work, determination, and commitment to success brought you to our doors, and we believe you deserve the best college journey possible! With a diverse and eclectic campus culture, comprehensive support services, and career-focused programs of study, we’re dedicated to helping you achieve lifelong personal and professional success.

Learn more about becoming a Purple Knight today!