By Connor Good '26
Many students who are about to graduate or have recently graduated high school have similar questions about college — How much homework will I have? Which college or university is best for me? What do I want to major in? What will my day-to-day schedule be like? — that might not have the same answer for everyone. Since there are so many different activities and extracurriculars you can get involved with in college, one person’s schedule is almost always different than the next. There is always something to get involved in, whether it be sports like football or soccer, or activities like STEM clubs or fraternity and sorority life.
A typical first-year student’s academic schedule is usually designed to get you comfortable with the college lifestyle and prepare you for your future classes. Every university is different, but most offer an “Intro to College” course; here at Mount Union, we call them First Year Seminar classes, or FYS. These classes have a huge range of different topics, and students are encouraged to pick the one they are most interested in, as they are all laid out essentially the same other than the topic of the class. These classes will have you write a few papers and do a presentation or two to help get you used to the college environment.
Additionally, some college students may bring in CCP, AP, IB, or another type of advanced credit to the college as a first-year student, which usually exempts the student from taking as many general education classes. Most colleges will accept a three on the AP test as credit, but make sure you check with your school and find out more about their AP requirements. With these credits, a student can essentially skip classes they would have otherwise been required to take, allowing them to take more advanced classes sooner, and potentially graduate early.
Tailoring your class times around your preferred schedule will set you up for success. Whether you’re a morning person and would rather have that 8:30 a.m. class, or if you’d rather sleep in (I don’t blame you), you can make your schedule your own. Most classes are offered in more than one section, so you can take later classes rather than being forced to get up when you don’t want to. Additionally, classes are usually broken up into MWF classes, and TR classes. Here at Mount Union, our TR classes are slightly longer than MWF classes so students end up with the same amount of class time regardless of the days of the classes.
Sports and Student Life
Sports is another area where college will really differ from high school. A high school team won’t require as much time and effort than a college team, as the competition and skill level of your competitors is that much higher. I’m on the golf team, and I can say from experience that the amount of time and effort required is more than that of high school. Playing a sport in college is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding, but make sure that you are setting enough time aside to play and practice without losing focus academically.
Another feature of college is an abundance of clubs and organizations. To list a few, there is Model UN, fraternities and sororities, STEM clubs, Black Student Union, and art and music-related clubs, along with many others. Clubs in college offer a unique experience, as you can be a member for much longer than a typical club in high school. By staying active and engaging with your peers, you have the potential to move up in the organization and potentially become the president of the club. With so many different clubs and activities, there’s something for everyone, and you’re sure to find your fit. These groups are a rewarding part of college and can help create lifelong friendships.
Many students take on part-time jobs in college to earn money and gain work experience. Balancing all these different aspects of life can be challenging, but they can also be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience, letting you build confidence in yourself and the knowledge that you can rely on yourself.
Your first year in college can be a challenging experience, and it’s difficult not knowing exactly what will come next, like what your classes will look like, or trying to balance sports and extracurriculars with academics. However, with proper guidance and prioritization, you can make your initial college experience a strong foundation to build towards your career, yet still have fun and find out who you really are.