First-month challenges for first-year students

Starting college is a big adjustment, complete with a full suite of ups and downs for those just starting out. While it is by no means impossible – and maybe even not difficult at all for some – there are some challenges that first-years should be aware of during the first month of classes.

Mustang Corral

Tons of icebreakers: I could stop with that and get my point across on this being a challenge for everyone. Mustang Corral is a tradition of mutual suffering, just one more thing to push through before starting classes. It certainly does have its value in learning traditions and giving you a set of familiar faces to start out the year with, but be aware that at times you will want nothing more than for it to be over.


The onslaught of first-years also brings whatever sicknesses that are present in their home state or area that no one has an immunity to. Within the first month or so of classes there never fails to be an “SMU Plague” which takes out many with the same symptoms. There really is not a good way to avoid this other than being hygienic – at a certain point, dorm life makes getting really, really sick unavoidable. Just be sure to go to the health center or an urgent care if you are very sick!

New Friends

By the end of the first month, you’ll have your small talk routine down pat. You’ll be an expert at introducing where you are from, what you are studying and other facts about your background. Do not worry, you will eventually make close friends and find people who are like you here at SMU – we have lots of great communities if you know where to look. But at times the constant social interaction of the first month can be overwhelming.

Time Management & Responsibility

There is so much to do that time management, or more likely time mismanagement, will affect everyone starting out their college career, and even those who are years into their education. Finding the balance of studying, friendships and activities is different for each person. But it is something that everyone should give thought to and develop good habits around while starting out.

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