What I Learned From My Freshman Year of College

Eliot G // The Watchdog.

Whether you’re coming straight out of high school, a gap year, the military or if you’re finally returning to school after a long time off, welcome to Bellevue College.

If you haven’t gone to college before, then you might have no idea what to expect. Even with reading this article, every person’s experience is different and you will be faced with things not addressed in this article or another. But hopefully, I can help you understand what life is like for a Bulldog and prepare you for this coming year.

As most people know, college brings a lot of freedom. In high school, everyone was confined to the same bell schedule and rules. In college, you get to choose your schedule, what time your classes are at and if you want your classes to be online or in-person. 

Here’s the problem: with more freedom comes more responsibility. It’s very important to show up to classes and not skip them just because you can. Your grade point average (GPA) will drop and it’s a lot harder to get it back up than you think. Creating those good habits from the start will keep your GPA up and setting parameters for yourself (such as accountability) might be helpful if you have a hard time with self-implemented motivation.

College can be easier than high school if you are good at self-management and don’t procrastinate. It is overwhelming at first because the style and responsibilities are so different from what you’re used to. However, you get to take courses you are interested in and college professors are oftentimes more helpful because they want you to succeed more than anything else.

Make sure that you sign up for classes early so that you can reduce stress. That way, the less work you put off, the less stress you will have. Make sure you keep the end goal in sight when you sign up for classes and try not to overwhelm yourself by signing up for too many credits.

Tuition is always a problem. College costs a lot and so does living space, food, transportation and pretty much everything you can think of. You have to think about paying for all that plus additional school supplies such as textbooks or a laptop. Thankfully, the Bellevue College Financial Aid Portal can help with figuring out what scholarships you may be eligible for. Finding scholarships and applying to them early is extremely helpful.

Since you have to pay for tuition and living accommodations, you may need to get a job. The problem with getting a full-time job is being able to keep up with both work and school. Luckily, you have a few options. You can take only a few credits and go through school slowly while you work. You can choose to blow through school, work when you can and deal with the debt after you have graduated. Lastly, you can try and find a healthy, balanced school-to-work ratio. None of these paths are necessarily good or bad, it’s just about finding which one works best for you.

One thing that’s super important in any walk of life is finding good people to surround yourself with. If your friends are a good influence, you will be less likely to skip classes and do things that you will ultimately regret. Same with roommates. You should be very careful when choosing who to live with. Making sure that school, work and home friends are all the best fit and influence for you will make college that much more enjoyable of an experience. Make sure people at work and at school are treating you with respect so that you are thriving in a healthy environment.

With all that said, college is a new adjustment to get used to. Don’t expect it to be super easy or insanely hard. Come in with an open mind so that you can adjust as you learn what works and what doesn’t throughout each quarter. College is a learning experience meant to teach you life skills and help you find your calling in life. Balance is the key to success. But don’t worry if your first quarter is a little off-balance because that’s where the learning and growing happens.