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Lessons learned from the first semester in college

Mallory Happ, a Forest Park resident and student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), shared the lessons she learned after her first semester in college.

By Sarah Bermingham, RCHS intern writer; photo courtesy of Kelly Happ

College is an exciting new experience for students to grow, but this change can also be surprising and somewhat intimidating.  Mallory Happ, a Forest Park resident and student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) shared lessons she learned from her first semester in college.
The hardest part, Happ said, about transitioning into college was taking responsibility for her academics.  “My advice is actually go to class, go to your discussion sections, do your homework, read before the lecture,” explained Happ.  To stay on top of material that is often progressive, Happ said she needed to set aside time every day dedicated solely to academics, and for her this meant finding places on campus where she could focus and was not distracted by friends.

Happ found it incredibly important to find a balance between school and her social life.  “In college there is so much freedom – your whole day, outside of a few hours of class, is left up for you to decide how to spend it,” said Happ.  “While this may seem great to many stressed high school students, this can be very challenging when there is always a social event going on that you would much rather participate in than doing your homework or studying for a final.  For me, I had to learn that the less I procrastinated and got my work done, the more time I had for a social life.  I think both are important to your happiness and well being, and so prioritization (with social life sometimes taking priority over academics) is key!”

Finding new friends in an unfamiliar place can also be a challenge.  “When I came to UCLA, I did not know a single incoming freshman, and there are over 6,500,” said Happ.  However, she made many new friends simply by talking to new people.  “I think making friends is really just about reaching out and finding what you have in common with the people around you!”

College can be a difficult transition, but there are people to help you along your way.  Sarah Tierney, president of Mosaic Admissions, a college admission consulting firm based in Castle Pines, said “The best advice I can give to freshmen, which also applies to all college students, is to ask for help when you need it.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professor, resident advisor, roommate or university health professional if you need guidance, extra help with a class, or simply need to vent.”



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