Asking for a Friend: the Freshman College Survival Guide

By Dulce Martinez

Staff Writer and Social Media Manager

The Class of 2026 excitedly embarkes on a new life chapter: College.

If you are a first-year student reading this, chances are that you are enjoying the experience of finally being away from your parents. You even might be feeling like a “real” adult. At the same time, you might also be feeling completely petrified. While you are living independently for the first time, your hometown might be over six hours away — or even a plane ride away.

Regardless of how far away from home you are, there is still a chance that you might feel apprehensive about starting your undergraduate journey. Guess what? That feeling is completely valid. Freshman year is an exciting yet terrifying universal experience for incoming college students.

What better way to start a new season of ‘Asking for a Friend’ than to provide a survival guide for FDU’s incoming first-year students? Ignore those college horror stories you might have heard because here are some tips on surviving your first year!

  1. TAKE YOUR TIME TO ADJUST. Transitioning into university life from high school life is a big step outside your comfort zone. Mixed emotions are bound to come when you take a big leap into a brand new environment. Embrace them. Take all the time you need to fully adjust yourself into the college world. Everybody adjusts at their own pace. After all, you are only human. 
  1. STAY ORGANIZED. One of the various keys to success in college is organization. If you are a notorious procrastinator, it becomes very easy for assignments to pile up as you wait for deadlines to approach. As you juggle between classes and activities outside of class, it is very important to keep note of your assignments. An academic planner or an Excel/Google spreadsheet can help you organize all deadlines for your assignments. Use whatever method that works best for you in keeping track of your weekly assignments. The sky’s the limit!
  1. THE SYLLABUS IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. The syllabus will become your holy grail for success. When a professor says to read it… read it! The syllabus will contain everything you need to know about the course, its contents, grading scale, your professor’s office hours, etc. The syllabus will help you plan ahead throughout the semester, which will make organization easier!
  1. BEFRIEND AN UPPERCLASSMAN. As an upperclassman myself, believe me when I say: We are not scary! On the contrary, we definitely remember the days when we were first-year students. We are more than happy to help you! You might find yourself a peer mentor, an older sibling figure, or even the reason why you will join a specific organization. No matter the outcome, it’s never too early to start networking with upperclassmen!
  1. GET INVOLVED ON CAMPUS. Organization fairs will become your one-way ticket for exploring the number of student-run organizations that campus has to offer. I highly recommend that you join an organization because it will become the perfect opportunity for you to form close relationships with fellow students! These students could share the same interests and passions as you, while also being within or outside your major. Go on and explore the different organizations that are waiting for a new member! (Hint hint: you are more than welcome to join our Equinox family…)
  1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RESOURCES. As a first-year college student, you might not know about the hidden perks that come with your tuition. You have full access to the counseling center, recreation center, tutoring center, career development center, library, study room, and even student discounts. Take advantage of these resources to really get your money’s worth!
  1. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH HOME. Especially for the first-year students far away from home, be sure to keep in contact with loved ones. Maintain the relationship you have with your friends, family, and loved ones. After all, you are not the only one that is transitioning into a new lifestyle. If setting up a time for a long phone conversation is not possible, stick with text messages. Either way, everyone back home will be eager to know about your new college adventures!
  1. EXPLORE. Speaking of adventures, college is the opportunity for students to explore the world! Immerse yourself in the new environment. Go on a hike. Take a bus ride to NYC. Even a walk to the nearest convenience store becomes a fun adventure. You will never know what you might find, and you might even make a new friend!
  1. JUST BREATHE. While it is important to balance between your classes, assignments, and social life, you also must remember to give yourself time for self-care. Give yourself small rewards after working hard. For example, go take that well-deserved nap. This is only the beginning of your college journey, and you have a lot ahead of you. Just give yourself a breather.

According to the wise words of Mr. Worldwide (Pitbull) in the song “Time of Our Lives”: 

This is for everybody going through tough times

Believe me, been there, done that

Four years may seem far away, but believe me… time will go by fast. I still can’t believe that my freshman year of college was two years ago! My final piece of advice for the class of 2026? Go on and conquer the world. 

The first edition for our new season of ‘Asking for a Friend’ ends with a warm welcome for the class of 2026.

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This season-premiere edition of ‘Asking for a Friend’ is dedicated to the incoming class of 2026.

Art by Dulce Martinez