What I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman

Like I always say before these sorts of posts, don’t take my advice.


Last year, I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. Since that time, I can look back on my time as a college freshman (and as a student in general) and think about what I did well, and what I wish I knew back then.

In college, I was very much an academic achiever. I learned a great deal about computer science but I gave up a lot of my social life. In retrospect, many of the things I worried about seem unimportant now. But if I had to do it all over again, I would change very little.

What I Did Well

  • I studied a lot and earned good grades.
  • I made a few real, lasting friendships.
  • I used my 30+ hours of AP credit, which made my courseload much lighter
  • I went to very few parties. (Alcohol is overrated.)
  • I learned things from other students, especially course recommendations.
  • I landed an internship each summer and accepted a full-time job at Google.
Dorm Room.JPG

Don’t be afraid of living in a dorm.

What I wish I knew

  • Studying is good, but grades don’t matter beyond a certain point.
  • Don’t be afraid of living in a dorm.
    • It wasn’t as bad as I feared.
  • Take a mix of classes each semester.
    • For example, choose 2 or 3 major-specific classes and 1 or 2 core curriculum classes during your first semester.
  • Understand prerequisites and where the “bottleneck” is in your major.
  • Avoid registering for 8am classes.
  • Rent your textbooks instead of buying. I would have saved a lot of money my first year.
  • Visit professors during office hours.
    • Even if you don’t need their help, they’re usually happy to talk to you about the course material.
    • This will come in handy when you need a recommendation.
  • Go outside your dorm and explore off campus.
    • I could have made more friendships outside my major and experienced more of Austin.
  • Get involved with student organizations.
    • They’re a great way to meet new friends.
    • I joined a few, but I could have done more during my first year.

Finally, since I was a CS student:

What do you want to know about college? Feel free to leave a question in the comments.

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One Response to What I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman

  1. Pingback: How to Choose the Perfect College Major | Sheldon's Software

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