College is about so much more than continuing your education. Don’t get me wrong, studying is important, but there are a lot of other things to experience and do in your first years away from home. Of course, you (usually) have four years to see and do it all, but there are some preliminary things you should do as a freshman that can help you find other great opportunities during the rest of your college career.
1. Do something that’s totally not “you”
College is all about stretching yourself, and what better way than to try out new events on campus? Whether it’s going to a play, a lecture in a different major, or just playing video games with your new dormmates, you can learn a ton from trying new things. Plus, you might find something you really enjoy that you never would have tried otherwise.
Related: 6 Important Ways to Get Involved on Campus
2. Attend a sporting event
Whether you went to a lot of games in high school or not, college sports can still be fun to watch. Depending on the athletic conference and size of your school, college sports can be a much bigger deal than high school—and a lot more exciting as a result. It’s also a great way to bond with your new friends or even support them if they’re playing. Get a group together, grab your favorite school spirit shirt, stop by the concession stand, and have fun supporting your favorite team.
3. Take advantage of free stuff
One of college students’ biggest concerns, besides going to class and keeping their grades up, is keeping track of finances when they may not have a regular income. Fortunately, many events and businesses that cater to college students know this. That’s why events on campus (and even some off campus) like guest speakers, sports games, theater productions, and concerts are usually free or heavily discounted for students. This doesn’t even count free swag and free snacks. There may never be another time in your life where you are this close to this much free entertainment—or free food—so take advantage while you can.
Related: Where and How to Find Free Events in College
4. Spend a day really exploring campus
Whether this means hanging out at the student center, taking yourself on a tour the first week to get to know your new school’s layout, or looking for fun activities at the gym, there will be lots to see and do on campus. A college campus can be intimidating sometimes, but you can speed up the process of making it feel like home by digging in and getting to know it just as well as (if not better than) the upperclassmen.
5. Explore the local area
Going to college is a great opportunity to get to know someplace you’ve probably never lived before. Whether you’re in a big city, small town, or somewhere in between, there is always something new to explore. Most college towns will have events and resources geared specifically towards students, but you can also look into your town’s tourism website or office to see what they recommend to newcomers.
Related: Great Colleges If You Want to Live in the Big City
6. Join at least one campus organization
Remember everyone preaching at you in high school to get involved? Well, for better or worse, that doesn’t stop in college. There are plenty of ways to get involved with organizations on campus no matter what your interests are. In addition to something that looks good on your résumé, student organizations can help you figure out what you want to do for a major or career, build relationships with those who have similar interests, and make friends you may or may not meet otherwise.
7. Pick up a new hobby
All the new things you’re trying in college don’t need to be academic or social. Whether it’s something you’ve always wanted to try or something you read about yesterday, starting a hobby is a cool way to meet new people with shared interests or just to kill time with something you really enjoy between classes. It’s also a great to take with you when you go home for breaks or when classes are cancelled when Mother Nature shows up with a foot of snow (or a tropical storm or whatever she’s up to that day).
Related: How to Turn Your Hobbies Into Scholarships
The real way to have the best possible first year of college is to stop overthinking everything. Nothing will be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. And there will be a lot going on all at once. As long as you’re doing your best, having fun, and getting involved on campus in one way or another, you’re going to lay a strong foundation for the next four (or more) years of your life.
Have the best freshman year possible with all the advice in our blogs and articles for first-year students.