Collegians Share First-year Wisdom

By Dwain Hebdads

College is a time for self-discovery, which means no one is truly prepared for it and all the dramatic life changes that come with it. In many respects, learning the ins and outs of life away from home is an education in and of itself. Savvy enlisted the help of second-year college students to provide some perspective on what they thought they knew—and what they learned—during their first year at university. 


Joey Ellis

Sherwood, AR
High School:
Catholic High School, Little Rock
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

I brought way too many clothes. I didn’t use a good one-fourth or one-third of the clothes that I brought because they hand out free T-shirts all the time. Overpacking was a big thing that I shouldn’t have done.

Also, I took everything really, really seriously, like, by-the-book. I found out that things are more relaxed and people give you more grace periods and stuff. I figured out how to go with the flow a little bit more.

Time management is so key in college; it’s a different atmosphere from high school where everything is out of the classroom and it's on you. I didn't have a steady homework flux like I did in high school, so I would wait until like 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, stay up to do it and then I'd have an 8 a.m. class the next day. I was way, way too tired, or sometimes I'd sleep through my alarm. 

Try not to over-extend yourself the first semester. You can't join 17 different clubs and try to do every single one. That's just going to kill you. The first week I tried to do all these things, I felt so defeated. I finally found a stride and knew what I needed to do and what I wanted to do and separated myself from some other groups. When I picked just a couple, I was able to time manage a lot better. 


Jojo Vazquez

Hot Springs, AR
High School:
Hot Springs High School
Eastern Connecticut State
University, Willimantic, Conn.


I did not expect to find myself in college, to feel more comfortable in my own skin, especially being around different people than I was in high school. I also didn’t expect to go through so many challenges that made me get to the point where I'm more comfortable with myself. But those challenges were also very hard. 

I would suggest preparing yourself spiritually for college because it's a crazy world nowadays and it's hard for young people to find God. I would definitely suggest finding a campus ministry even though I didn’t have one. I was kind of spiritually isolated in that perspective, so I had to own up to my own [Catholic] faith. I had no one watching over me or telling me what to do. I found a church home and I volunteered with a youth group and that helped as well.

The “Freshman 15” is certainly real. I tried to stay away from it and take care of myself more, trying not to overeat and started going to the gym. I didn’t do sports in high school and I think the challenge was definitely trying to get myself to do that stuff. Because you can just whine about it, 'Nooo, I don’t wanna goooo.' But once you start doing it and you make it part of your routine it's like, nothing.

I would definitely recommend taking care of yourself and staying in healthy relationships. That’s also self-care. Remember, being in relationships is not so much about pleasing others, it's more like staying true to yourself. 


Colton Ketter 

Charleston, AR
High School:
Charleston High School
Arkansas Tech University,

First off, I went in thinking I got this, I can get myself up every morning. Well, I'm not a morning person and I found out really quick that Mom and Dad aren't there to wake you up every morning. It's a struggle to get up especially when you stay up really late studying each night. It's definitely a habit that you have to grow into.

Also, I went into college thinking everybody is going to be the complete opposite of me, that there was going to be no one like me. I was actually surprised to find out how many were just like me, just a lot of freshmen who are scared, thinking, 'Oh no, what do I do here? How am I going to get to do this? How am I going to be here on time?' Although we all may be different, there's a lot of people that are in the exact same boat you are. 

Maintaining balance at college all goes back to time management, setting enough time for everything in your life. Knowing how to get that certain ratio of time of when you need to study and when you need to do homework, but also time to have a social life where you're going to have healthy relationships with your peers. If you have too much of one thing, it's just going to crumble and it's not going to end up well. So, I think just managing time is a great way to find that perfect balance.