What I Really Learned in My First Year of College

So my first year of college has finally ended, yay! Looking back, I really felt like it all happened so fast. This past year has been a huge eye opener for me in regards to my future goals since I actually had to start thinking about the real world. College has not only taught me material from the classes I took, but gave me an experience to find out how to enjoy life and succeed at the same time. I know I still have many things to learn, and I can’t wait, but here I’ve condensed my experiences in the past 10 months.


And no, I don’t mean the overused Instagram comment. I mean goals as in academic goals. So, let me set up the scene for you of me going into college. I hated high school with a passion. I was suffocating from all the pressure to “fit in”, even though I still feel like I never did. This caused me to dread my everyday life, and I would just do whatever I needed to get by. It didn’t help that my high school was full of competitive Asians comparing class ranks and GPAs every report card, ugh! Senior year of high school came, and I was super excited to get the heck out of there. I finally realized that I wanted to pursue my dreams in working in the fashion industry! However…… February came and I found out that I was denied to my first choice college. The college I wanted was auto admitting only top 7% of the class, and having a large and competitive high school, I didn’t make it. Honestly, I’m not blaming anyone but myself. I think if I had prepared myself better and looked into what college I wanted to aim for, I would’ve tried harder, paid attention in class, and did my homework instead of doodling and scribbling “I hate everyone” on my spirals. I was filled with regret, but luckily I was offered an opportunity to redeem myself.

Second chances don’t come often. The college I wanted let me join a program where I’d have to go to a sister school for a year and if my GPA was high enough, I could transfer to the main university. Because of this, I went in my first year with a goal in mind. I needed to get the highest GPA I could, at this point there was no backup plan. If I failed my goal, I told myself I’d go back home and study something else. The thought of failing scared me and so for that first year, I made sure I didn’t miss an assignment, quiz, or test. I found study partners and learned not to be so easily satisfied with my grades. In the middle of every semester I would always have a little bit of doubt that my grades are going to fall, but through perseverance I brought myself back up. Yesterday, the school year ended, and I slayed with a 4.0 GPA.

I’m going to pursue my dream next semester? I can’t believe it! This is when I learned setting realistic goals and sticking to them can really bring out the best in you.

2. Stay True to Yourself ♥

As corny as that sounds, please bear with me, I really mean it. For my first year I went to a college 4 and a half hours away from my home. I came in with no friends, just my personality. In a way, I was happy I didn’t know anyone. It was a fresh start, away from everyone in high school. I bleached my hair, wore whatever I wanted, and just stayed true to who was hiding in me this whole time. I felt so happy. Then, people liked me? They actually liked me!? Everyone in college was so educated and open to all sorts of people, unlike the cliques back in high school. So, I absolutely encourage anyone to stay true to themselves!

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3. Be Friendly ♥

As you’ve heard many times, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you expect people to be nice to you, you should treat people well. Everyone in college is stressed. They’re there to build their future, so there’s a lot of pressure. Many people live in dorms, miles away from home, and many face traffic in the morning trying to commute to campus. Everyone has their own problems, so the best thing you can give to someone is a friendship. You will never truly know what a person’s been through or what they’re really feeling inside. Sometimes that can build up and the next thing you know one of your classmates may not show up the next day, but you can make a difference.

If you’re having a hard time meeting people, especially since you can’t really talk during a lecture, I would suggest joining a club. Clubs in college are way different that those after school clubs in high school. The closest friends I made were people from a club called FSA (Filipino Student Association). Not all of them were Filipino, there were Vietnamese, Koreans, Chinese, and Whites, but we were all a family. In this club, they had a hip hop dance team which I really wanted to be a part of. However, when I went to the first meeting in the second week of school by myself, I ended up sitting awkwardly in the corner. I literally wanted to cry inside and kept asking myself why I was even there, but at the end of the meeting someone talked to me and made me feel so welcomed! We ended up spending 3 hours at Starbucks just talking and getting to know each other. Once the dance sessions started, I met more people! Everyone was so kind to me, even though I sucked at dancing haha. I will never forget that experience. I only did this club the first semester because I was really worried about my grades and dance practice took up a lot of time, so when second semester came, I was sure I’d be back to having no friends since I wasn’t attending the club. Turns out, people still invited me to hang out and have fun! I’m so happy I built the courage to attend that first meeting. I was able to build a bond with such great people!

Here’s a silly picture with the fam. I’m the loser with the silver hair looooool!

4. Time Management ♥

Joining that club took a lot of my time at night when we’d practice from 8-12pm for 2-5 times a week. When my grades started to fluctuate mid semester,  I sat down and decided to think of a game plan. I couldn’t forget about my goal. I needed a high GPA in order to get into my major in the school I wanted. So unlike high school where I’d whip out my homework the period before it’s due, I actually set a time for studying, napping, eating, dance practice and hanging out with friends. I tried to think realistically and made sure I didn’t bite more than I could chew. It was tough to get used to, and I’ll be honest, I’d cheat sometimes and nap and extra hour, or maybe two. But the thing I would suggest to anyone struggling with time management is to set your priorities straight and think about what your distractions are. Whats really important to you? You should do things that you’ll look back and say that you’re glad you spent the time to do that. If course, maybe sleeping, binge watching Netflix, or partying may feel good at the time, but don’t to it to an extent where your grades have to suffer. Save it for the weekends, plus it’ll feel 100 times more rewarding if you ace a test and THEN go have some fun.

5. Give Yourself Some Alone Time ♥

With all these things going on around, it can get really tiring. Maybe it’s cause I’m an introvert or something, but man, I’ve found out that I really need to have some time alone. Some Saturdays I just stay in my dorm all day and turn down invites to hang out or party even though I’ve got nothing going on. Alone time may not mean a whole Saturday locked up in your room for everybody, it may be in the shower, or taking a walk outside. Regardless, I feel rejuvenated after I let myself sit back for a bit. It really lets me think about things and not be so spontaneous all the time. When I’m alone, I’m reminded of my goals, what I’m really here for. I’m able to see where I am in reaching that goal and what I need to do to stay on the right track.

So yeah, first year of college? Check! Even though it’s not always fun, it was worth it because I feel I’ve learned so much more about myself in the 10 months I’ve spent there. I hope that in this post I’ve somewhat helped or simply amused you. But truly, I wish you good luck in your future endeavors whatever it may be, whether it’s college, a job, or becoming a monk. I believe everyone has a right to be happy, so do what you gotta do.


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