The last month of my senior year in high school, I experienced something many people would call a “senior slide.” Much of the time I probably should have been studying was spent dreaming about what my next year at college would look like.

Once I graduated, it all became much more real that I would actually be starting college in a couple months. Then I started to panic because I’m a planner, and I realized I could only plan so much of what college had in store for me.

However, starting college taught me far more than I could’ve ever imagined. Here are four tips based on what I learned my freshman year at WSU. I hope they help you prepare for your first year of college!

1. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, college will present you with a challenge of some kind. For me, that was allowing myself to be outgoing and make friends.

Your first week on campus is one of the best times to meet people — everyone is in the same boat as you, heading into a completely new experience. My advice would be to attend events on campus and make connections in your orientation class!

2. Take advantage of living in the residence halls

Living in the residence halls, you have a front-row seat to all of the action on campus. Take advantage of living down the hall from your best friends, going to events planned specifically for you, having 24/7 security, and living within walking distance of the dining hall.

3. Go to class and don’t be afraid to ask questions

Go to class! It’s really easy to hit snooze over and over again until you miss that 8am history lecture. Get up at a consistent time throughout the semester so your body is used to your sleep schedule, and get to your classes.

Also, your professors are there to help you. Get to know them and take advantage of the help they want to give you.

4. Get involved

You’ll find that you have more time in college than in high school simply because you are in class for much less time on a daily basis. It’s important to get involved in activities and clubs outside of the classroom — not only to fill your time, but to meet others and make connections.

What would I do differently?

As I reflect, I like to think of what I might have done differently in my first year of college. If I could tell the “Me One Year Ago” anything, I would tell myself that no matter how hard you try, you can’t plan for everything in college before you get there. I tried to plan every aspect of my first year but it’s important to get on campus and see what it has to offer you, because there will be surprises.

I would also tell myself to live in the moment. The first year will be done before you know it and you really want to enjoy that first college experience.

As your summer quickly comes to a close, I hope my advice helps you prepare for a successful first year at Winona State!