How to have a great first week at college

DePaul University student Jeff gives a thumbs up in front of a banner in the DePaul University quad.
A photo of the DePaul University quad on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus.

People always bring up how crucial the first week of college is, and I am not here to disagree with that. However, I do think that people make it out to be this crazy time when you need to make a ton of friends and feel like everything is amazing. The truth about the first week of college, whether it’s your first week of college ever or just the start of a new quarter, is that you don’t need to have everything figured out. It is perfectly normal to feel both nervous and excited because there are a ton of new things going on. It is so important to remember that while this is the first week and it’s the first time you’re meeting people or starting your studies in a particular topic, it’s not the only time that’s happening. You don’t have to perfectly nail everything and know exactly what the professor is talking about in your classes. You have to consider that everyone else is also in the same boat with you.


Every other person that you meet is feeling the same nervousness and excitement that you are and they are likely just as eager as you to make friends or do well in class. On top of that, you are going to be seeing these people and continuing your studies for quite a long time! There is no need to freak out if you finish the first week and haven’t met your new lifelong best friend or haven’t found the subject that fills you with passion. These things take time, and all you can really do is put in your best effort and be yourself. Here are some of my recommendations for how to have the best experience in your first week at college!

A DePaul University student’s laptop displaying a welcome post for a class.
A photo of a window display of DePaul University athletes at McGrath Phillips Arena on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus.

One thing that makes life so much easier, and it might be a little obvious, is having a routine and schedule. In high school your schedule was laid out for you for the entire time you were at school. College is different. You’ll typically have one to three classes each weekday, usually lasting around 90 minutes each. So that leaves you with a lot of time to delegate yourself, and often there are long breaks between your classes on a given day. That was where I found myself in the most trouble personally. I often start wasting time if I don’t have a set out task for myself, so the simple solution for me was to assign tasks to my open time. I also found that having a routine for working on certain classwork on certain days allowed me to make sure that I didn’t focus on one class too much and start slipping in other classes.

Another thing that’s important for making the best of your first week is to get out of your comfort zone! I cannot stress this enough, in the first week everyone is in the same position looking for friends, so you need to take advantage! Compliment people, strike up conversations, sit next to people in your classes, everyone is looking to make friends and there are so many cool people at DePaul. Another awesome way to meet people is to join clubs. You don’t even have to commit to any of them, you can go to all of their first meetings of the quarter, and you’ll be joined by other students who are new to the club. I have met some awesome people in clubs here and there are so many to choose from so you will have an easy time finding a good fit.

A photo from the Fullerton CTA stop showing McCabe Hall and Wish Field on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus.

Overall, the first week of college is a stressful time for everyone, and the most important thing to remember is that it does not have to go perfect. DePaul is an awesome place to find people like you, and we have great programs for so many different majors. As long as you put in your best effort, you will do totally fine and set yourself up for an awesome time at college.

~ Jeff

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