My First-Year Survival Guide

By Ally Bourelly

The first year of college is no doubt one of the craziest, most transformative years of your life. From making life-long friends to discovering what truly interests you, your first year at Colorado College is a time to explore new horizons and step out of your comfort zone. 

These changes can, however, be overwhelming and even scary. But don’t fret. After talking to several friends, alumni, and family, I compiled four pieces of advice I wish I had known going into my first year to keep my body and mind at ease:

1. Come up with a daily routine.

This is much easier said than done, especially since the Block Plan makes our days unpredictable and our classes short-lived. Instead of making your routine rigorously detailed, create a loose but easy-to-follow plan that won’t stress you out. To accomplish this, I like to write my daily tasks in a planner. Making a daily plan will not only help you feel like you’re accomplishing your tasks by checking them off, but it’s an easy way to stay organized. 

2. Allow time for exercise.

It has been scientifically proven that exercise releases endorphins in the brain and makes you happy. Getting your heart rate up for 30 or more minutes per day is a great way to release stress and get your mind off that class that has been consuming you. The exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous or aggressive, it just needs to be enough so your mind is focused on the task at hand. For me, yoga has been a great way to escape the real world and focus on myself and my body. 

3. Always put your mental health first.

We all go through personal struggles, whether that means having a teacher or roommate you don’t get along with or missing your parents — just know you’re not alone. Taking care of your mental health is critical in making your first year a success; it should not be a source of embarrassment or fear, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

 Colorado College has so many great resources to take advantage of when life gets in your way. The best resources for me have been the Wellness Resource Center in the Worner Center and the Counseling Center in Boettcher. Both centers are phenomenal, with people who genuinely care and will help you come up with strategies to overcome college hardships. Keep in mind that these are just a few; there are far more resources available on campus.

4. Take advice from Nike — just do it.

Take advantage of every opportunity and get involved on and off campus. Colorado College provides many outreach opportunities to engage, such as partnerships with local schools, activist groups, environmental efforts, and more. 

Don’t be afraid to explore new blocks. You’re here for four years — there’s no need to rush to declare and finish your major. Take classes you’re interested in, and explore topics that your high school didn’t offer. To this day, my favorite class is still my Introduction to Race and Ethnicity First Year Experience with Jamal Ratchford and Michael Sawyer, and I’m an organismal biology and ecology major. Even though it didn’t fall in line with my major, I still loved the class, my professors, and our discussions. 

Don’t rush through your first year, because in the blink of an eye it will all be over (insert crying emoji here). 

Photo courtesy of Catalyst Archives
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