Looking Back on What I Learned My First Year of College

Natalie sits with her coworker Reshaun on campus.

Rowan Blog contributor, Public Relations major and student athlete Natalie DePersia shares her take on the first-year experience.

What I learned first year year of college was to take one deep breath in, one deep breath out, and to take a look around.

My first year, just two short years ago … seems like a different universe to the current world we live in. Reflecting back on my past two years as a Rowan student, I have came up with a list of things I learned from my first year of college; what I have learned from starting a normal first year to having it be cut short by a global pandemic.

As a rising junior, so much much has happened in what feels like such a short amount of time. Approaching your first year can be nerve-wracking, exciting, and can come with a mixture of emotions. A way to ease any anxiety or uneasiness is to get involved in some way around campus.

Natalie standing in front of Gazebo.
Natalie DePersia

Join college clubs, extracurricular activities, and get involved around campus

Getting involved around campus is imperative to finding new friends and taking a break from your academic course load. I play on the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Rowan, and from this experience I have developed friendships that will last a lifetime. College clubs, extracurriculars and even sports are a great way to find others with the same interests of you. 

Rowan Women Lacrosse Team and Alumni.
Rowan Women’s Lacrosse team and alumni after the annual alumni game in 2019.

Staying organized is the key to my success

Being a first-year student in college can be stressful. The adjustment from high school to college can be a very different experience depending on who you ask. Personally, the adjustment had its easy moments and its hard moments. In high school I did homework based off of memory. This worked most of the time. However, I did experience the occasional “Oh no I forgot to do an assignment … let me finish it quickly 10 minutes before the class starts.”

Having a planner and a system to organize myself has been my saving grace as a busy college student. Between lacrosse practice, in-person meetings, classes online or in person, to internship hours and assignments … having a planner is essential to my success and punctuality academically, athletically and professionally. 

Be grateful for what you have when you have it

I wonder how I am approaching my junior year as I remember first-year orientation like it was yesterday. Time goes by so quickly and I feel as if I did not truly appreciate what my first year was because I assumed I had three more years just like it. Having a normal college experience the most of my first year to going into lockdown by a global pandemic my entire sophomore year only made me realize that I need to appreciate what I have when I have it. I was taught by Covid-19 to expect the unexpected and to make the most of every moment given.

Natalie and lacrosse teammate Reilly before home game.
My lacrosse teammate, Reilly, and I before our last home lacrosse game before our season was cut short by Covid-19 in Spring 2020.

Apply yourself because you owe it to yourself

This one is my favorite. I was a decent student in high school. I did what I needed to do, and I was ok with receiving any grade from A to B range. When I got to Rowan I realized I was not striving for my maximum potential and I needed to start working harder if I wanted to accomplish the goals I set aside for myself. I can happily say that I am now a 4.0 student successfully balancing academic course work of a major in Public Relations and a double minor in Sports Communication and Psychology, athletic responsibilities of playing on a women’s collegiate lacrosse team, and professional efforts of working two jobs. It took me a little time to realize, but anything is truly possible if you set your mind to it and put in the work.

Networking is imperative

Networking has so many positive outcomes. Networking can bring you internship or job opportunities, introduce you to new friends or a new hobby and more. I found an internship by reaching out to one of my favorite professors, Cristin Kastner Farney. You never know what opportunities can arise if you talk with others and are simply a friendly face. Being kind can go a long way in your academic and professional career. 

Natalie with fellow employee and friend Reshaun.
My fellow employee and friend Reshaun and I sitting outside of Bunce Hall.

If you gather anything from this piece I hope you learn to take one deep breath in, one deep breath out, and to take a look around. College and life in general go by fast. Do not let the little things stress you out, everything has a way of working itself out. Be present in the moment because sooner than later you will be entering your junior year writing a reflection piece and wondering where the time has gone.

Like what you see?

LEARN MORE

Story by:
Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Photos courtesy of Natalie DePersia and by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

Facebook Comments
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons