As we approach the upcoming school year, I wanted to share with you rising freshmen some wisdom I lacked when I stood in your shoes. I attended Georgia State University (go Panthers!) and had a great experience every year I was there. But my first year would have gone a lot smoother and would have been a lot more enjoyable if I hadn’t made three mistakes.
1. Studied like I did in high school: All high schools are a bit different and everyone has a different experience. For me, high school was a pretty easy four years. I paid attention really well in class and did all of my homework. But I didn’t do much studying outside of that because I played sports and that took up a lot of time, and I simply didn’t have to study much in order to get good grades. When I started college, I was faced with the reality that I never learned how to study. For the first time, I had to study.
If your high school experience was similar to mine and you sort of coasted through, brace yourself. Here’s what I recommend: time-blocking. Mark off time on your iCal, Google Calendar, or day planner to study for specific classes. When it’s planned, it is a lot easier to stick to. When you have a test coming up that you know you can’t just cram for (for me it was Economics and Accounting), spread the material out over the course of several planned days leading up to the exam. Or you can figure out your own system. But when it comes to this, don’t shrug off warnings—the struggle is real.
2. Didn’t get plugged in: I was really involved in high school. I played sports, joined clubs, and served in my local church. When I got to State, I neglected the pursuit of these things. It seemed like there was already so much going on in my life and so many things to adjust to that getting plugged into anything organized got pushed aside.
I started attending Buckhead Church my freshman year, but didn’t get involved any further than simply showing up on Sunday mornings. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I started serving in UpStreet and attending The Living Room. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had done those two things sooner. The difference those decisions made in my life changed everything for the better.
3. Didn’t seek the right kind of community: When you move into your dorm, there will be lots of school-sponsored social events to help you connect with other students and make friends on campus. These events are awesome. But in my case, the people I happened to connect with first were the people I stuck with the rest of that year. And while they were great people and remain friends of mine to this day, their standards were much different from mine. Spending so much time with them and not having like-minded community to balance me eventually led to compromising and making decisions that fell short of standards I had set for myself. My sophomore year, I finally got this right—largely thanks to friends I made at The Living Room. I finally had balance in my friendships and people around me who held me accountable to what I wanted for my life.
If you’re already plugged into The Living Room or planning to jump in this fall, you’re several steps ahead of where I was my freshman year. But keep in mind that simply showing up at The Living Room won’t result in the community I believe you need in this crucial year of your life. Take it a step further by finding a place to serve and getting into a smallgroup. Kristin Fry does an incredible job connecting students from the same area of town in groups with top-notch adult leadership. These groups really are can’t-miss opportunities.
I’m excited for you. Freshman year is a blast. Go to and experience everything your school offers: campus events, sporting events, and even tutoring sessions (these really helped with point #1).
If you’d like to find out more about getting plugged in at The Living Room or Buckhead Church or just have questions about what is in store for you this year, drop us a line on the contact page. One of our staff or volunteers would love to meet with you!