What exactly is university like? We’ve all heard about common university stereotypes and rumours (e.g. crazy parties, roommate problems, etc). Some of what you hear is true and some aren’t, and freshmen can’t help believe them all until proven wrong. As you begin your first few weeks at university, here are some things to keep in mind that you may or may not have been told about, and hopefully they help you navigate and understand college life a little better.

1. It’s okay to feel insecure

My first quarter at school was pretty difficult just because I was surrounded by extremely intelligent and talented individuals who had accomplished so many awesome things before university. It made me feel incompetent. I started questioning my own abilities, and often thought I wasn’t good enough. One day, my roommate randomly told me she felt the same way. I wasn’t alone! If you’re feeling a bit insecure, don’t feel bad! University is definitely different from high school. It’ll take time, but you’ll find what you love and what’s important to you. That’s all that really matters in the end.

2. Freshman 15 is real… kinda

Weight gain freshman year is actually pretty accurate.

Gaining 15 lbs., though? Kind of extreme.

When you have a meal plan and a university with buffet style dining halls, it’s difficult not to get carried away. I gained 7 lbs. the first 10 weeks of school. I remember thinking the first night at school, “Wait, are you saying I can have mac & cheese, a slice of veggie pizza, a burger, fries, AND a chocolate ice cream sundae for this one dinner just because?” *insert heavenly faint here*

What isn’t common knowledge is that students can actually lose weight freshman year too. I had a friend who had a meal plan that didn’t allow her to eat 2+ meals a day. She wanted to avoid spending money, so she would wait until the next time her meal plan would allow her to eat. In other words, she was always hungry, and that’s not good either. Her advice? Do not starve yourself. You’ll eventually figure out which meal plan is right for you, hold back on overeating, or maybe fit workouts into your weekly schedule.

3. Don’t buy books at the university bookstore

It’s more convenient, yes. But don’t if you can get the book from somewhere else. Always check what books you’ll need for a class ahead of time, and check for their prices online. Even before I started blogging for Chegg I used its book rental service because textbooks I needed for classes were always cheaper there than at my university bookstore.

4. University freedom is a blessing and a curse

University: Wake up any time you want, sleep all you want, eat whenever, hang out all day every day, study all day ever- wait, study? No thanks. University is awesomely different from high school because you have the chance to schedule your day (besides classes schedules). How awesome is that? What they don’t tell you is that it can be extremely difficult at times to prioritize and be in control of time management. The amount of freedom you have can be overwhelming. Too much fun or too much studying isn’t good. You might not find the perfect balance between responsibilities and fun until much later on.

5. Making friends may take some time

As a freshman, your roommate(s) can be your first friends in university, but truth is not everyone becomes best friends with their roomie(s), and it’s common. Sometimes it takes time making friends and finding the people you want to hang out with. Where do you start? Try out for marching band or join the debate club, just go for things you’re passionate about. You’re bound to meet someone who has the same interests as you, and you’ll build better friendships that way.

6. You DON’T have to have your future figured out

I’ve met some students freshman year who knew from day one what they wanted to do with their lives. I, on the other hand, had no idea. You’ll meet both kinds of people and others who fall in-between the “career” spectrum. University is about exploring and learning about what you like, what you don’t like, the type of people you want to surround yourself with, and most importantly, networking. Taking part in opportunities is one of the best things you can do during your time in college. Who wants to have regrets when they graduate? That’s right, no one.

What are some things you’ve learned after starting University that you wish you knew sooner?

This article was first posted on Chegg Blog