5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Day in College

I Wish I Knew is a series of personal essays written by the courageous young female ambassadors of UChic. Learn how to survive and thrive during your Freshman Year from girls who have been through it. This week we are featuring UChic blogger and ambassador Kristine Fenstermacher. Fenstermacher is a student at Temple University.

Freshman year is an experience that you only have once. It's the time to finally become independent and to become the person that you've always dreamed of being. College is a serious departure from everything you knew. Not only are you the "new kid" on campus, but you're new to EVERYTHING. New friends, new classes, new freedom. The transition from high school to college can be scary. Here are five things I wish I knew before my first day.

1. Classes are different.

Freshmen year is tough and it starts in class. You don't know how your classes function or what kind of work you'll be assigned until the syllabus is in hand (and even then there can be some serious confusion). Professors won't monitor your every move. Translation: Be aware of when work is due. If you have questions, ask! Your parents aren't there to make sure to go to class either. You can choose whether or not you want to go (but you always should!).

2. Get to know the campus before classes start.

Unlike high school, college campuses are incredibly spread out and difficult to navigate. Try mapping out your schedule and figuring out where everything is before the first day of classes. Walk around campus with your new roommate a few times to get to know your new surroundings. Keep in mind that it's okay to be confused and ask questions. Eventually your new campus is going to feel like home.

3. You never know who's going to be your new best friend.

High school cliques are so O-V-E-R in college. Making friends all over again is such a strange feeling. If you've had the same friends since grade school, college is going to be the perfect opportunity to branch out. Sometimes a roommate becomes a best friend (and other times you get the worst roommate ever). Either way, give every single person you come across a chance to be a new friend, study-buddy or late-night dining hall partner.

4. Manage your time (even with your newfound freedom).

There's no curfew, no chores and no rules which means you need to proceed with caution. Unlimited freedom can way too much to handle especially with all of the other changes coming your way. Know that you're meant to have fun and be carefree (because it is your first year in college after all) but be careful to not forget about your classes. It happens. If you're too wrapped up in parties and extracurriculars, you might catch yourself behind on assignments. It's much harder to get back on track when you've fallen behind.

5. Starting a job first semester might be overdoing it.

College is incredibly expensive and if you have limited financial support, you're going to be spending way more money than you have. It can be hard to have a job first semester because it's too much to manage. It's completely fine to wait until second semester to start working. Budgeting is key. Make sure that you have enough money to cover your costs, plus unexpected extras like eating out with friends and extracurricular activities. Once you have your finances under control, you'll be able to take on anything.