What to Expect as an Incoming College Freshman

The world of higher education is full of new and exciting experiences. As high school seniors transition to college freshmen, they are faced with academic, lifestyle, and social changes. It’s important to be informed and prepared so you can set your entire college career up for success.

Let’s look at what to expect during your freshman year at college.

Academic Expectations

College academics differ from high school classes in a variety of ways. For example, Oregon State University emphasizes that students should be prepared for professors to base grades on understanding and critical thinking versus effort. This is typically a major difference students face as they transition from high school to college. It’s important to study beyond your lecture notes to avoid mistaking effort for understanding. To that point, OSU suggests college students should identify patterns and make connections beyond class parameters.

Another important college expectation is to be academically responsible. This includes attending and participating in class, meeting deadlines, and reaching out for further assistance. Contrary to high school, college professors may not notice you’ve missed class based on the sheer number of students they teach. While your professors care about your studies, they typically will not reach out to you inquiring about absences or late work. It’s their expectation that you contact them with clarifying questions when problems, such as missing class, arise. Acknowledging this, it’s important that students meet deadlines and communicate when necessary. This will ultimately avoid having missing attendance and assignments impact your grade.

There are many more academic expectations. You can explore more examples of those here, as well as doing further research.

Lifestyle Expectations

Most non-commuting college students live in a variety of housing options close to or on campus. Typically, they also have roommates. Sharing living space with other people is a great way to save on housing costs, however, it can be a difficult transition for some students.

Here are some things you might expect with a roommate:

Living communally means it may get messy- literally! To combat this, implement ways for yourself and your roommate to clean regularly, like a chore chart. This avoids letting things get out of hand, which can become overwhelming.

Without communication, you may run into conflict. Sharing a space with someone takes compromise and open communication. It’s important to let your roommate know your schedule in advance so they can develop a work style fitting for them, and vice versa. Additionally, make sure to discuss any issues that arise and become familiar with conflict resolution. It’s a good rule of thumb to acknowledge that a problem cannot be solved by two people if one doesn’t know it exists… so don’t be afraid to speak up! 

Social Expectations

From clubs to campus events to hangouts with friends, college is a chance for you to meet new people. This is a great way to learn and build your social etiquette. Specifically, interacting respectfully in a class atmosphere is integral to building lasting relationships with your peers and your professor.

Claudia N. Nunnemphasizes that many professors require participation and discussion-based learning, which has a positive impact on students. To effectively engage in class discussions and participate in an educational debate, practicing proper classroom etiquette is key. The University of Wisconsin highlights different ways to uphold professionalism while expressing opinions, sharing ideas, and receiving feedback in a classroom environment.

Additionally, in your later college years, you may be looking for a reference when job hunting. Building great professorial relationships from the start will give you more options to choose from down the line.

Building a Solid Foundation

While the transition from high school to college may be intimidating, the lessons you learn and the relationships you build make it all worthwhile. However, before you make the most of your college experience, you’ve got to get there!

Financially, see what options are available for federal loans, grants or scholarships. If you need more assistance, you may want to consider a private student loan. Start at your local bank or a credit union to learn more. Don’t wait to enable your higher education dreams, secure your private student loan financing now and apply today.