6 Things I Learned During My First Year of College

Monday, August 29, 2022
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Keyanna Metts is entering her sophomore year at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. 

When people tell you about college, they tell you about how fun and amazing it is and how they met their best friends for life. What they don’t tell you is how you will experience being independent, losing and gaining relationships, ups and downs with emotions, hard and easy classes and, perhaps, balancing work and school. Here’s what I took away from my first year of college. I hope it helps you make the most of yours! 


Learning to be Independent  

Becoming independent — doing whatever you want, not having to listen to parents, buying what you want — is fun in the beginning. College is often your first experience living with your friends and being on your own. But there’s a flipside to this freedom: You have to become an adult fast and make sure you put school first. Plus, you might be one of the many students who balance work and school to help pay or completely cover tuition. I give them huge props, because it’s really a commitment but it will be worth it in the end. 


Losing and Gaining Relationships 

As I wrote in A Letter to Future First-Year College Students, my parents told me that everyone who comes into your life is not always going to be there forever. Some will be there for a second, minute, days, weeks, months, a year or few. I never really understood it until college. When you first come to college, you might have one friend group then have a whole different friend group by the end of the year. Your roommate might become your best friend, or you just may share a room. Either way, you have to learn how to live together. We are all coming out of high school where we kind of know who we are as people — but we’re still growing. For some of us, that’s easier than others. But even introverts like me can make friends. Know that it might take time to find your place and your people.  



We all know that college is very different than high school. During high school, we have our parents and teachers who are always there to make sure that you are doing what you’re supposed to do. In college, no one will hold your hand. Your success is up to you. You also need to remember that every teacher and class is different. Some teachers are lenient, and others are more structured. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.  


Mental Health 

Since you are going to be at college by yourself away from your family, obviously you might be under some stress with classes, balancing social life and work. Your physical and mental health is very important and should be one of your main priorities. There are ways for you to improve your mental health, but we are all different so do whatever works for you. Also most college campuses will have resources readily available for students — don’t wait to reach out to someone if you need to.  



Working can help you pay for your tuition and just allow you to have some pocket change so you can buy your essentials. But having a job can take a lot of time from doing what you want to do, such as having fun with friends, sports or just being able to have time for yourself. You need to save your money and be smart with it, but also treat yourself here and there. You’re in college and working hard — be proud that you made it this far!  


About Johnson & Wales University 

Johnson & Wales University (JWU), founded in 1914, is a nonprofit, private institution in Providence, RI, and Charlotte, NC. A recognized leader in career education, JWU offers 100+ undergraduate and graduate degrees. From taking part in advertising competitions to snagging an internship to working with world-renowned companies, there’s an entire community behind you to help develop your skills and make the most of your potential.  

What will you do at JWU? 

Apply today