Freshman Year Transition

Your first year of college is very often your most difficult year. You will be in a new setting with new levels of independence and lots of new responsibilities. Studies show that most students who drop out of college do so during their freshman year. If you prepare for the changes ahead, it can also be a time of great growth and lots of fun! 

Listen to What Students had to say about their first year of college. 

"UMBC was the first predominantly white school that I've ever been to". 

Ramses Long


"There were a lot of surprises and bumps along the road".

De'Asia Ellis

Goucher College

"The first semester was kinda rough". 

Jasir Qiydaar


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After spending some time at your new school, you may feel like you made the wrong decision. You may also notice that you are changing as a person. Many times these changes are positive, but some personal changes can be negative. 

De'Asia shares thoughts on losing characteristics of her old self
over the course of her first year of college. 

They don't tell you how you might change as a person..." 

De'Asia Ellis

Goucher College

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Tips for a Successful Freshman Year Transition 
  • Get to know your roommate and others in your residence hall. The people you live with, most of whom are going through similar experiences and emotions, are your main safety net — not only this year, but for all your years. You may change roommates after the first semester or you may stay roommates for all four years — just take the time to get to know your fellow first-year students.

  • Make connections with students in your classes. One of my best students said his technique in the first week of classes was to meet at least one new person in each of his classes. It expanded his network of friends — and was a crucial resource at times when he had to miss a class

  • Learn to cope with homesickness. It’s only natural that there will be times when you miss your family, even if you were one of those kids who couldn’t wait to get away. Find a way to deal with those feelings, such as making a phone call or sending some email home.

  • Stay on campus as much as possible. Whether it’s homesickness, a job, or a boyfriend or girlfriend from home, try not to leave campus too soon or too often. The more time you spend getting to know the campus and your new friends, the more you’ll feel at home at school. And why not take advantage of all the cultural and social events that happen on campus?

  • Find the ideal place for you to study. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done — while avoiding as many distractions as possible.

  • Seek a balance. College life is a mixture of social and academic happenings. Don’t tip the balance too far in either direction

  • Make time for you. Be sure you set aside some time for activities that help you relax and take the stress out of your day or week. Whether it’s practicing yoga techniques, watching your favorite television shows, or writing in a journal, be good to yourself.

  • Don’t feel pressured to make a decision about a career or a major. College is the time to really discover who you are, what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, and what you want to be. It’s not a race; take your time and enjoy exploring your options.

  • Get to know your academic adviser. This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you — and should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts. And don’t be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don’t click with the one first assigned to you.

  • Don’t procrastinate; prioritize your life. It may have been easy in high school to wait until the last minute to complete an assignment and still get a good grade, but that kind of stuff will not work for you in college. Give yourself deadlines — and stick to them.

Adapted From 25 Strategies and Tips to Help Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year and Beyond