College Freshmen: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Young woman moving in to DormOne of the most common reasons that students fail classes during freshman year of college is a lack of preparation. Both academically and otherwise, high school is a time to prepare for your future in college and set yourself up for success. The best way to do so is to know what to expect so you can plan accordingly. Read on to learn about some of the things you may encounter in your freshman year of college, as well as some advice on how to ready yourself!


What to Expect

According to a 2010 College Board Report on four-year college readiness, the following are the types of courses students typically take during their first year of college. Talk to your school guidance counselor to see what you can be doing to prepare for success in these and other courses you may need to take:

  • 81% take at least one social sciences course
  • 72% take at least one English course – English composition is the most popular course and literature is the second most popular. English composition is typically a first year requirement.
  • 72% take at least one mathematics course – Calculus is the most popular course and algebra is the second most popular. Studies show that in general, current college students take more high school math courses than students have in the past. In 1992, more freshman studied algebra than calculus.
  • 65% take at least one natural sciences course – Chemistry is the most popular course and biology is the second most popular.

How to Prepare

The Federal Student Aid Department website provides some great tips on how to make the most of each year of high school to support your future in higher education. Check out the tips by clicking the following links:


Oftentimes, academic success during your first year of school is heavily influenced by your ability to cope with a number of outside factors that you may have never experienced before. Here are some of the biggest challenges you may encounter as a freshman and how to thrive in your new environment.


The transition from high school to college may be a stressful one. Preparing yourself academically is paramount for avoiding some of the pressure of this change. Learning what your college offers its students to aid the transition will also be a great help. Take full advantage of your college’s freshman orientation courses and talk to a counselor about any questions you might have. It’s best to know where to find the resources you may need in the future so you don’t have to scramble and stress when an issue arises.


If you choose to go away to college, this may be the first time you’ve ever been distanced from your family and friends. Many students experience some degree of homesickness, which has the potential to greatly affect your studies. The best ways to avoid homesickness are participating in organized activities, building a strong friend-base, maintaining a focus on your studies, and (of course) keeping in contact with your loved ones. Though it may be your first instinct, don’t close yourself off to new friends and experiences. If you stay social and keep busy, chances are you will begin to feel right at home.


As a freshman in college, you must now be far more responsible for the way you manage your time and motivation. In the beginning, you may need to put forth some extra effort to do the right thing when it comes to partying vs. studying or sleeping vs. going to class. Maintain good study habits freshman year and it will be easier to carry those skills throughout your college career!

Are you preparing for your freshman year of college? What do you think the biggest obstacle will be for you? How do you plan on overcoming it? Let us know in the comment section below!