College: it can have some of the most exciting, fun, and happiest experiences of your life. It can also have some of the most stressful, overwhelming, and lonely times as well. So how can you survive your first year of college

Navigating this emotional rollercoaster can be scary, especially for students moving away from home for the first time. You may feel like you’re the only nervous one, but most people feel the same way. Although you may never “figure it out,” there is no shortage of advice to help guide you. Here are a few tips to help you survive your first year of college socially, academically, and mentally.


College can serve as a fresh start for people socially. Many worry about if they’ll fit in, but most people are open to talking and making new friends.

1. Talk to Other People

This may seem obvious, but it can be one of the hardest things to do. It’s easy to hide in your own world and scroll through memes on your phone, but you can’t really socialize with people around you that way. The first step to getting to know people is to talk to them. Don’t be afraid to initiate conversation, even if it’s just small talk. You never know, maybe they’ll turn out to be your best friend.

2. Have an Open Mind

College is a diverse place with people from different backgrounds. You can meet people that you would never have otherwise. It’s important to keep an open mind so you can make the most out of these interactions. We’re all people, after all.

3. Stay Connected With People You Meet

Especially in larger campuses, you may see someone one day, then never again until the end of the term. Staying connected is one of the hardest parts about maintaining friendships because unless you have class or are in a club with them, you won’t see them except for coincidental run-ins. Be sure to get people’s contact info or add them on social media if you want to meet up with them again.

4. Don't Lock Yourself in Your Dorm

If you spend most of your time burrowed in your dorm room, chances are people aren’t going to come knocking for you. By increasing your exposure to other people, you raise the chance that you’ll interact with them. You can meet more people simply by being out in common areas, like in lounges or outside.

5. Look For Events Around Campus

Although there are always events happening on campus, they can be hard to find if they aren’t publicized well. Most of the time, you’ll have to actively look for them. These events, such as shows, dances, or volunteering, can be good a good way to meet new people or bond with friends. Either way, they'll help you enjoy your first year of college. 

6. Get Involved on Campus

College is filled with several clubs and organizations to unite people with common interests. Chances are, you’ll find people you connect with. It also gives you fun things to do in your (often rare) free time. Consider joining clubs for academics, sports, politics, volunteering, Greek life, and many others.

7. Explore the Local Area

wine, water
Robin Chohan

While it’s easy to stay on campus, consider breaking out of that college bubble and explore the local area. You could find new places to go to for hiking, shopping, or eating. It certainly opens up the potential places to hang out on a weekend.

8. Take Advantage of Free Food

Yes, there is no shortage of free pizza, since it’s a foolproof incentive. Going to events for the free food may instead help you learn about organizations or experience something cool.

If anything, you saved yourself a few bucks and got a free meal. 


Sometimes it feels like professors are bombarding you with a nonstop stream of work. This can be overwhelming, but there are plenty of ways to help manage this workload.

9. Use a Calendar or Planner

Your life will be hectic as a college student, so keeping track of all the things you need to do is essential. Forgetting that an assignment exists is easy, but adding them to your calendar can help you plan when you’ll get things done.

10. Have a Go-to Study Spot

cutie, tangerine, clif bar, studying, snacks, study snack, textbook, notes
Jocelyn Hsu

Yes, people will turn up on weekdays. Make sure to find a reliable place where you know you can focus and get things done. Whether it be in a study room, the library, or even the dining hall, having a go-to study spot will make your academic life easier.

11. Go to Office Hours

Probably the most given advice that no one seems to follow, GO TO OFFICE HOURS. This gives you one-on-one time with professors and they will try to help you as much as they can. Even if you don’t have any list of questions, go anyways and they’ll most likely clarify things.

12. Take Advantage of Academic Resources

Your college will most likely have academic resources to help you succeed in class. Find out if there’s tutoring or programs to help you understand the material. Doing so can make your academic life much easier. 

13. Form Study Groups

It’s easier to motivate yourself to study if other people are trying to as well. Especially if you’re feeling lost in a class, having other people with you may clear up some confusion you have. Study groups are a good choice if you don’t feel comfortable going directly to the professor. 

14. Start Projects Early

Believe me, it is not a good idea to start on projects a day before they’re due. College assignments are usually larger works that require a large amount of planning. Writing a comprehensive paper is nearly impossible if you’re saving your projects last minute. Save yourself a night of stress and sadness by starting projects early.


The constant stress of college can definitely take a mental toll. Knowing how to handle it is key for your mental sanity, especially in your first year of college.

15. Get Enough Sleep

This is probably the most obvious yet most important tip for anyone hoping to remain sane: get a good night’s rest. Doing so may seem impossible, especially given the amount of academics, extracurriculars, and socializing surrounding you. However, your mind and your body will thank you when you aren’t feeling delirious on your fourth cup of coffee.

16. Make Time For Yourself

Especially if you live on campus, it may seem like you’re always around others. Sometimes, especially for introverts, you get tired of being with people and would rather spend time alone. It’s ok to decline that invite to go out in order to recharge your social batteries. It would help you have more energy whenever you decide to hang out next.

17.  Stay in Touch with People Back Home

 While you’re forming new friendships and relationships in college, it’s still nice to check back with people back home. Keeping in touch with family and hometown friends may help when you’re feeling homesick, or if you just want to talk to someone familiar. It can be tough to coordinate schedules, but it’s worth it.

18. Take Breaks

While college seems like a hectic and crazy chain of things to do, breaks are crucial. Especially if you need brain power, breaks are needed to ensure you can still function by the end of the day. Also, when else are you going to be able to discover dank memes?

19. Stay Active

Exercise has many benefits, both physically and mentally. Not only is it a healthy habit in general, it also is a nice way to relax and relieve stress. Also, it would be helpful if you’re concerned about the Freshman 15.

20. Eat a Balanced Diet

If food is fuel, you’d want the highest quality food to fuel your engine, right? Yes it’s college, yes there’s all-you-can-eat dessert in dining halls (usually), and yes post-midnight pizza deliveries are definitely a thing. While it’s not bad to splurge once in awhile, constant sugar headaches aren’t going to help your mood or mentality.

21. Remember to Relax

There is no shortage of stress at college, but it’s important to remember to relax. There will be times where it feels like you always need to be on edge, but being able to relax is the key to staying sane. Not everything will be perfect, and that’s okay. Just remember to loosen up and chill out once in awhile so that you can truly enjoy your college experience. 

While college may seem like a never-ending series of challenges, remember that you and your classmates are all on this journey together. Hopefully, these tips will help you survive your first year of college socially, academically, and mentally.