The Freshman College Survival Guide

Illustration by Alexander Ontiveros.

Last year many freshmen entered college not knowing what to expect. Sophomores and upperclassmen dealt with the laborious task of already being a college student, and some felt the relief of graduating and moving on with their lives, only to realize that moving on with their lives was really just transferring to a different school. 

So, let’s take a moment to give our condolences to the graduates of 2019, because they are now in the same predicamentagain. 

Figuring out how to navigate through the college sphere is crucial if you want to enjoy your time at Miami Dade College. Your first step may be to ask students who’ve already been in your shoes. Below you’ll find anecdotal accounts of what other students experienced and wished they knew before starting college: 


“Everyone is a different kind of student, and if you don’t know what kind you are, now is a good time to find out. I wish I had known that not everyone will do things the same way and in the same amount of time. It’s important to remain optimistic but realistic and really figure out what works best for you. To understand certain lectures, I had to watch videos beforehand. Don’t knock YouTube videos until you try it! All STEM majors should know about ‘Organic Chemistry Tutor,’ a YouTube channel with college algebra, chemistry, and pre-calc tutorials. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors and classmates—we’re all in the same boat!” 

Katherine Duarte, a 19-year-old psychology major  

“My advice to incoming freshmen is to come in with an open mind and be patient. At first, you may not get the classes you wanted or the professor everyone was talking about but it’s all about adapting. There’s gonna be moments when you feel like there are a million things you have to get done; patience is key. Take a deep breath and just know you can do it. Build a network of support among your peers and friends. College will test you in ways you never thought possible but it’ll be easier to maneuver with people you can lean on.”

Juan Romero, a 19-year-old English major

“I struggled a lot with earning and saving money my first year at MDC. I had to spend so much of my time studying that I barely had time to work. The little pocket money I was earning could barely afford me the textbooks I needed. And that’s not to mention the lack of a social life I had. Between work and school, I often found myself in a Starbucks during closing hours rushing to write a paper that was due at 11:59 p.m. In hindsight, I wish I had known to manage my time better and prioritize my mental health. It’s all about finding that balance.”

Manny Sanchez, a 19-year-old biology major


Inevitably, you’ll find that there’s a lot you don’t know when it comes to college. You may be lucky enough to find a mentor that’ll help you along the way, or you may find yourself trying to finish an essay at a Starbucks in the late hours of the night. 

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure: you’ll figure it out. 

Don’t be impulsive, but treat yourself sometimes. Get your assignments done but know when it is time to sit back, put on a face mask, and binge a few episodes—or seasons—of your favorite show.

If my first year at MDC has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t need to “survive” college, you just need time to adapt, like all things in life. It’s college…you come here to learn and mess up sometimes; if you constantly wallow over your past mistakes, then when are you making time to live, learn and grow?

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