Three Things for First-Year College Students

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By Autumn Evans

Dear First-Year College Students,

As I sit here reflecting on my college journey, I can’t help but think about the things I wish I had known before starting. Three things stick out in my mind, and I want to share them with you.

Adapting to Change

College is a significant transition from high school, and with it comes much change. You’ll be meeting new people, living in a new environment, and experiencing a new way of learning. It’s essential to embrace change and be open-minded. Don’t hesitate to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Join clubs, attend events, and make new friends. It’s all part of the college experience.

During my first semester of college, I will admit that It was tough because all of my friends from high school had transferred out of state or someplace new, and knowing that I was an introvert, it would be hard for me to make friends without making any life changes. And not knowing the benefit of changing how you operate can create a significant setback in your overall growth.

There were a lot of things that happened during my first semester, but the most important lessons that I have learned would be the following:
1. Learning to let go
2. Learning that change can be good or bad
3. Learning that support is everywhere, including your family

Leadership Action: Take a moment to think about one thing you’ve been hesitant to try. Write down why you’ve been hesitant and what steps you can take to overcome that fear.

Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy in college is critical. College can be expensive, and it’s important to be financially literate. Understand how to budget your money and track your expenses. Consider getting a part-time job, applying for scholarships, and minimizing unnecessary expenses. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of college life, but it’s also essential to plan for your financial future.

I quickly learned how necessary financial literacy was; before college, all I did was spend, spend, spend. I spent a lot of money on food, furniture, and personal items for college. One of the most essential things that helped me with college was securing in-school scholarships so that I didn’t have to worry about other costs, such as books, classes, and program expenses.

Leadership Action: Create a budget for the upcoming semester, including your tuition, housing, food, and any other expenses you anticipate. Compare your budget to your actual expenses and make adjustments where necessary.

Time Management

Time management was one of the major things that I had to learn when coming to college, and I had to learn it fast. College can be overwhelming with classes, extracurricular activities, and social events. It’s crucial to manage your time effectively. Create a schedule and prioritize your tasks. Use a planner or a to-do list to keep track of your assignments and deadlines. Remember to give yourself time for self-care and relaxation.

One of the many things I had to learn while in college is that a planner or a way to track your time will be one of your best friends. Two of my favorite applications are Google Calendar and Structured, which both work hand-in-hand to plan out your day by every minute.

In college, it is important that you know you must delegate your time wisely. You have to realize that 24 hours in a day may seem like a long time, but you need to make sure that every hour is spent where it is needed. I tend to use the “50, 30, and 20” method when it comes to prioritizing what I have to do. For instance, I would work on my big task first and prioritize it as my 50, which is the highest number in my imaginary pie chart. The next is my 30, which would be work or other small projects that are outside of school, which would be my second priority. And lastly, my last priority, which would be my 20, is talking to friends and catching up with others to keep up with the latest trending thing.

Keeping that strategy helped me tremendously, especially during my first year of college.

Leadership Action: Take a moment to reflect on your current time management skills. Write down one area where you could improve and what steps you can take to improve.

I hope these three things help you as you begin your college journey. Stay open-minded, be financially literate, and manage your time effectively. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

Sincerely,
Autumn Evans

Journal Prompt: Use this letter as your journal’s starting point. Write down your experiences adapting to change, financial literacy, and time management. Reflect on what you’ve learned and what steps you can take to improve in each area. Write down your goals for the upcoming semester, and track your progress throughout the year. Use your journal as a tool to help you navigate your college journey.

The Leadership Journal is a youth-authored publication by Butterfly Dreamz, Inc. To learn more and support our work, visit butterflydreamz.org/books.

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