What to expect your freshman year of college

what to expect your freshman year of college

Written by Charaf Mrah

Hi there! I'm a Software Engineering major currently studying in college. The purpose of this website is to share my learnings and insights with you, in the hopes of providing value and assistance to those who may need it.

Updated Jan 30, 2021

Just 12 months ago I was in the process of applying to different universities and getting ready to move to college.

Time dashed forward and here I am a sophomore in college. 

Although I spent the second semester at home due to the pandemic I still learned a lot about college in the first semester.

I would like to share with you what to expect your freshman year of college as well as some of the things that “shocked” me. Let’s get it:


Table of Contents


Free Time


Harder Exams


Nobody Cares


Junk Food


New Friends


When I was thinking about college life back in high school, I always admired how much freedom and free time college students had.

HOWEVER, I never thought they had THIS MUCH AMOUNT OF FREE TIME.

The amount of free time you have in the first few weeks is mind-blowing. 

Here’s how a normal day (in the first few weeks) went for me:

  1. I wake up at 9 am (depending on my schedule of course)
  2. Go to a 2 hours class
  3. The class is done and now I literally have the entire day to do whatever I want

Sometimes I had two classes, and since I’m majoring in Software Engineering I had more class time relative to other majors (except med students, those are something else).

Just imaging this in your head (or whatever you use to think): you wake up late, take a class, and now you can do whatever you want for the rest of the day.

THE WISE THING TO DO: spend at least an hour studying by yourself and revising.

WHAT MIGHT END UP HAPPENING: you procrastinate and either go out with friends or just play video games until 3 am. 

I mean, at the beginning of the year it feels like a holiday. There’s ZERO pressure and you feel like college courses are just super easy compared to high school.

If you think this is the case, read the next point:


Now free time is all fun and games until you’re sitting in a Calculus midterm mock exam and you don’t understand a single question from it.

Unlike high school, college exams DO NOT LOOK (nor feel) THE SAME AS THE IN-CLASS QUESTIONS.

The questions in college exams aren’t even close to the questions you solve in class (at least in my engineering classes, it could be different for other majors).

So are college exams impossible to solve? No!

Then why are they hard? FREE TIME!

Free time is a blessing and a curse. Although you get a lot of free time, you can easily end up procrastinating and wasting the entire semester on dumb things.

College exams can be fairly passed with an A+ if you’re passionate enough about the classes and dedicate a fair amount of time for them.

From my experience, I only got A+’s in classes that I was passionate about and really wanted to excel at such as classes related to programming.

To each of his goals so if your goal is to get good grades in all classes then you need to prioritize this since DAY 1.

Don’t panic, college exams are hard only if you don’t study since day 1. 

However, you should note that they’re harder than high school exams at the end of the day. But this will depend on what college you’re studying at of course.


You always hear that nobody cares at college. And quite frankly, it’s true.

Nobody cares about you in college, from the professors to your classmates (with exceptions of course ????).

While in high school teachers “cared” a bit too much, in college they’re fine with you going to hell.

This new system can take some time to get comfortable with but honestly, it’s not that bad.

Depending on the professor, many of them would not care if you sleep in class, use your phone in class, not do any of your homework or assignments…etc.

There are exceptions to this rule but the majority from my experience don’t give a damn.

I personally think it’s good as I get to enjoy more freedom and be responsible for my actions. 

I hated that the teachers controlled anything about me and now I get to do whatever I want because I WANT TO, not because I HAVE TO.

However, you give this to the wrong person and they can ruin their lives easily. At the end of the day, it’s their lives but it’s quite sad sometimes seeing people getting crushed because they couldn’t be responsible for themselves.

For anything in life, you have to pay a price for what you get, and for the freedom you get, you need to pay with responsibility.

You have NO ONE to blame for any mistakes that you make except yourself.

Okay, that got intense real quick.

Moving on.

It’s not just professors that don’t care, even your classmates don’t care about you.

And in my opinion, this is the best part of college. Since I’m not a publicly-traded company, I don’t want anybody in my business unless I chose to. 

I didn’t get bullied often back in school so I don’t know how it feels for those that got bullied when they get into college. It must be good!?

Nobody cares about how you’re dressing, how smart you’re, how dumb you’re, or how cool you were back in high school.

For some people that were treated like gods back in high school, this might not be an ideal situation. But the sooner you realize that nobody cares about your past achievements the faster you’ll get comfortable with college.

It’s harsh, but it’s the truth.


Getting into college doesn’t necessarily mean getting into some bad habits such as eating junk food, but it’s very common.

One of the reasons that you might get into junk food is your first couple of months in college being very chaotic. 

You don’t know where the classrooms and the buildings are very well, you have many papers that you’re dealing with, and many other factors that can make the first couple of weeks like hell.

This can lead you to eat more fast food and deliveries since you don’t have enough time to think about food and cooking.

If you plan everything beforehand however, you easily avoid this and eat more healthily since the beginning of the year.

Another main reason is not having enough time to cook, or money to spend on quality food every single meal. 

You can spend the entire day studying and then having fun with your friends or doing other hobbies. This consumes a lot of time and you end up neglecting the idea of healthy food.

So, how do you eat less junk food? 

Well, by carefully planning your time as well as your finances. 

You don’t want to spend a great deal of your time cooking and eating, so plan it carefully beforehand and I’m confident that you’ll get more efficient at it.

RELATED: how to eat healthy as a college student


One of the reasons that people choose to go to college is to network and create new relationships.

I’m personally not in college for that reason right now, but you’ll still find interesting people whether you intended to or not.

Making new friends is all up to you at the end of the day. If you’re not approachable or don’t approach other people like me, then you’ll have some trouble making new friends (which is something that I don’t mind).

The one advice that I’ll give you is to make good friends, not just a friend for the sake of having someone to talk to.

Why make new friends in college if you already have friends?

I’m not the right person to answer this question but if you held a gun to my head then I’ll do it: you don’t have to, but you might be surprised by your new friends.

Students in college tend to be more ambitious than those in high school… Nah, now that I’m thinking about it they don’t… 

It will all depend on what college you’re attending and what people you surround yourself with. I’m sure you’ll find good people everywhere, but they might be rarer in some places than others.

I’m don’t have a lot to add to this point since I didn’t really make many (or any?) friends my first freshman year. So I don’t have enough wisdom to give you about making friends in college.

One thing I can tell you though: You’ll be fine without friends. It’s not the end of the world, nor that important, at least for me.


Freshman year of college can easily be one of the best years of your life, and it can easily be one of the worst as well. For me, it was the latter kind of. I didn’t enjoy the first few weeks (due to other factors) but I really liked some aspects of it such as free time. However, I learned so much this year and I can say that overall, it was a net positive experience for me. If it wasn’t for this year I wouldn’t have had created the college route nor made other changes in my personal life.

Just remember to always plan beforehand and to keep a flexible strategy going forward. I don’t usually write things down (ironic since I’m blogging now isn’t it?) but if you do then it would be a good idea to write down a general plan (don’t over-plan). And remember to enjoy your life while keeping your main goals ahead of you (if you don’t have main goals, start figuring them out slowly, don’t pressure yourself).

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