The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Here I sit, Tuesday morning, already half way through my second day of school. I have rallied up 10 things I learned on my first day of school in hopes of helping those entering the wild, ambitious, challenging years of college.

You could be thinking, “How much could you have possibly learned on your first day of college?” Well, here is your answer.

I learned, a lot.


Bring an umbrella. You heard it here first. I, along with many other students (who were not all first year students, might I add) forgot an umbrella and/or did not check the forecast prior to walking outside.

My first day started adventurous as I walked to class under the rain, sharing half an umbrella with a friend.

Beautifully curled hair? Gone. Warm crewneck laced in perfume? Now smelled like rain and sweat. Geraldine’s precisely, outlined eyebrow? Also gone 😉 Moral to the story, bring an umbrella and always check the forecast before you leave your new home.


It’s okay to be nervous. Walking up the steps of the Pentacrest to my first college lecture of roughly 400 students, I felt butterflies swarming inside my stomach. I knew it was Syllabi Week but did I really know what to expect? No. How can you?

Your nerves will settle as the class seems to appear not that bad after all, and you will feel a smile start to form with positivity. You know there will be challenges ahead, but this first lecture will leave you feeling hopeful and motivated.

Don’t lose that.

Your stomach will be taken over with nerves once more, as you head to your second class of the day. The next day, will feel the same. The giddy, eager, heart of a first year student is so beautiful. Staying motivated for me will be hard eventually, but this University offers all the tools you thought possible to help you succeed.

With that being said,


Take advantage of those resources, and take advantage of them quickly.

After the conclusion of my first lecture, before my second class, some friends of mine and myself trucked it to the library to explore study spaces and everything the University Library has to offer.

First off, there’s a Starbucks. All of you coffee lovers out there might take to love this area of study for that simple fact but, what drew me in, was the high tech, colorful, study cubes.

Here you can reserve a study room equipped with dry erase boards, swivel chairs, outlets, and projectors. You can quite literally do anything, for any class, in this space.

So, adventure out on your first day and explore cool, quiet places to help you get a head start on the two chapters of General Chemistry homework you already have.



The University of Iowa uses an app called Pocket Points. On this app you can set a timer to stay off your phone, away from distraction, for any amount of time. The longer you’re off your phone, the more points you will earn.

With the points earned, you will be offered deals around campus for food, clothing, and much more.

Take advantage of this one (it may or may not work when you’re sleeping, shh.)


It’s okay to sit with your friends in class on the first day. It will not prohibit you from learning, unless you allow it to.

You want to remember your first day of college so, sit by your friends. They may not be your friends forever but they can be a great companion for the first day of classes.


DO NOT take the bus.

Even if it is pouring down rain, enjoy the walk and the memories you’ll make on that (shorter than you think) walk to class.

From a friends experience, waiting for the bus on your first day could result in being ten minutes late to your first college lecture ever. The app is almost never correct.


Bring your student I.D everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Something that is helpful but could be dangerous if not communicated properly with your guardians is, the charging of the UBill.

“Would you like to pay cash, credit, or out it on your student UBill?” You will be asked this everywhere and let’s be honest, for most of us UBill means mom and dad’s bank account and not your own.

I cannot even count how many times I heard “I could just charge it on my UBill” just within my friend group the first day. Frantically visiting the Hawk Shop for missing items we didn’t have was a repeated action throughout the day.


Schedules are important.

If you are not an organized person prior to college you will become one very quickly. You will learn to appreciate the calendar feature on both your cell phone and computer of choice.

Within my first day of classes, I had due dates, meetings, outings, things to remember, etc. that I needed to add in my calendar, just to keep my head straight.

If you enjoy handwriting your schedule, that is awesome! However, your schedule is highly likely to change after, or halfway through, your first day. Be prepared to erase and/or re-write your schedule many times.


Accept every call from your guardians.

They care about you and are eager to hear how you are adjusting. Sure, it can be annoying when you receive a call every hour, and maybe you can intentionally ignore a few throughout the day. Odds are your family will miss you before you can even stop to think about missing them.

Sound excited on the phone, but be truthful and transparent. Your guardians and those who invest and believe in you want to help you with this new transition.

With that being said, here is the most valuable lesson I learned on my first day as a freshman in college.


Everyday that passes is one you cannot get back.

Make connections,

Say Hello to absolutely everyone you see,

Swipe up on someones snap story from orientation if you think it is funny,

Get involved right away,

Be energetic,

Be loving,

Expand your music taste,

Walk into a dorm room that you think is cute, (it is nice to knock first but most people don’t mind)

and overall,

Be grateful.

Many people in your family, including contributers around the country have bonded together to get you to college and are excited to watch you thrive and succeed. Making friends might take time, but what doesn’t take time is, a smile to the reception clerk working two jobs while attending school, complimenting the person next to you on the morning bus, and spending time in a grateful mindset throughout the day.

Enjoy your new chapter, this day is one I will never forget.

XOXO, McKenna

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