How to Survive your First Year of College These insider tips can help things go well


By Danielle Laban, NLU’s Director of Student Experience

This is a really exciting time for you. I remember the summer before I started college, I felt so free and on top of the world! I was excited about moving on to new challenges and experiencing new things. Let’s kick the new school year off with advice to help you survive your first year of college from someone who’s done it and who’s made a living out of working closely with college students. Your story is just getting started;  let’s begin that first chapter!

  1. Making the Most Out of your Experience – College is drastically different than high school. Here, you’ll have ownership of your time, be empowered to take initiative on campus, and experience new people. But, be thoughtful. This freedom requires discipline and motivation. You have to manage your time to make school a priority. Without the structure you are accustomed to, it’s up to you to get involved, to participate in school activities and meet new people. It’s your story; how are you going to write it?
  2. What kind of student are you? – With more freedom comes a wonderful opportunity to define your formula for learning success, such as study habits that work for you.  For example, WHEN you study can make a difference in your ability to concentrate. It’s time to discover when you learn best so you can achieve success.
  3. Student Life Balance – As you work your way through your first year and learn more about yourself, it’s also important that you take good care of yourself. NLU has many resources to help you if you hit a road block, but remember to manage your time, ask for help, practice stress management techniques, and make an effort to manage all your responsibilities as you balance your new life as a college student.
  4. Make #Smart Social Media Decisions – I’m sure you have heard the old line that everything on the Internet lives forever. Whether true or not, your social media presence may be the first impression you make with classmates, faculty, advisors or potential employers. Be thoughtful and diligent in your social media posts. You are starting college to put your best self forward. Do the same online.
  5. Making New Friends – One of the most exciting milestones in college is the development of long-term friendships. College is a melting pot of individuals coming from many walks of life; immerse yourself with those different from you.
  6. Chicago Study Spots – Stay tuned for updates on the best places to study and hang around campus. There’s nothing like having the best city right outside the campus doors. We will set you up to take advantage of all the things Chicago has to offer, from studying to fun!

Wow. That’s a lot to think about. Try not to get overwhelmed. We’ll take each of these topics one by one and set you up for a great first year! We are so thrilled you have chosen NLU and we hope we can partner to give you the best student experience. You got this!

Danielle Laban

About Danielle Laban

Danielle is the Director of Student Experience at National Louis. She's an experienced student affairs professional who is focused on student success. Danielle earned her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Northern Colorado and her Master of Arts at Roosevelt University.