Surviving College: Advice for Freaked Out Freshmen


Sam Brooks

Many hands can guide the journey of a college student.

Diving head-first into college after finishing high school made me feel like a small fish dropped into an ocean. Coming from the Hawaii public school system, it is easy to say that the preparedness I felt for college was little to none.

Going through college has been a roller coaster to say the least. My experience was anything but the conventional college ride. 

Today, I hope to share with you a few pieces of advice that I wish someone gave me when I was a fresh-faced hopeful first year.

1. Break out of your shell

There is so much out there in this brand new community. It can be a little intimidating at first, but dip your toes in first and explore the campus. Once it becomes more familiar, find a good little corner to study in, or the perfect people watching spot to sit and eat lunch. My freshman year, I was terrified of trying to make friends, so I explored every nook and cranny of Chaminade and found the perfect reading spot under the trees near the library. It’s secluded and quiet, perfect for cramming in peace. Being comfortable in your environment is important. It’s only where the entire college experience happens.

2. Feel free to make mistakes

That’s right, make mistakes. There are tons of them to make during the course of study. It goes without saying that one should always try to produce quality work in school, but tests and exams can be intimidating. My first F came in the form of the first exam in Math 100. I studied hard and panicked harder when the exam started. That first F brought down my self-esteem, but in the long run, it helped my perfectionist tendencies relax a little. I learned that being the straight-A student I was in high school was not going to happen in college. Down the road it became clear that sometimes, even after studying like nobody’s business, people fail and that’s okay. If your college career takes a little longer than four years (like mine), remember that the most important part is that you finish. College is not a race; finishing at a pace that works is better than finishing with everyone else.

3. Ask and you shall receive

The hardest realization to make as a college student is when you need help. Whether it be with classwork, picking classes for the next semester or finding a passion, asking the people around is a good way to get vital information that a student would not necessarily get just by looking. Asking an advisor to help pick out classes is a great way to ensure that the courses in a semester are going toward your degree. Throughout my college career, I have sat with an advisor and planned my semester classes for the year. This helped so much when it came time to register. All the classes that one can take and should take can be overwhelming to look at, with the guidance of an advisor, I felt purposeful in registering for the next semester. Students that need study help can check out a tutoring center, that most colleges have, or make friends with a few classmates and form a study group. This is where breaking out of that shell comes in. Open up, ask for help.

4. Get to know the classmates you see often 

Throughout the course of a college career, there are many colleagues and friendships that form. Especially at Chaminade, where classes are small, one may see the same classmates all day long. Getting to know these people is a key to success in college. The ones who share a major with you will be the most valuable when crunch time comes for a core class. In my major, there is a group of girls that I have become so close with throughout our course of study. Being such a small campus, the lot of us have been able to look toward one another when times get rough. We share notes, lecture recordings, even life experiences. These people have become an integral part of my time here at Chaminade, and I wonder how I would have survived school without them. Sharing in the college experience is what makes it so great.

5. Be yourself

This may seem like a simple piece of advice, but college is a precipice of finding out who one truly is. The time to experiment is now. Try that random ceramics class that’s been in the back of your mind since registration. It took a long time to let go and show my classmates the real me. Video production classes helped by putting me in front of a camera where I can’t hide from anyone, even myself. College is the perfect time to search the soul and find a true passion. When a person is undeniably themselves, the rest falls into place.

College can be a crazy time for some students. The time for figuring out aspirations and goals is now. By breaking out, creating relationships and being honest with one’s self, the college experience can be truly amazing. Remember these tips and the academic part will come easily.