It seems to be a time when a lot of people lose their way.
The phenomenon of freshman year was the first thing that came to my mind when reading about deindividuation- the tendency of people to engage in atypical behavior when stripped of their usual identities (Lilienfeld, p. 502). To some degree, we are all displaced our first year at college. Freshman year forces kids to go through the exact process of deindividuation. Nobody knows who we are, and we have lost our reputations completely. It makes sense that someone like the football team captain from high school could feel displaced going to college where his reputation no longer holds any weight. And the quiet girl, who is just as anonymous as any other freshman at college, can be equally as vulnerable to college social influences like drinking and partying as the girls who used to blow off their studies in high school.
A lot of people admit to making mistakes their freshman year, even warning you about what's to come. So often we hear people say, "I had to work really hard to make up for my freshman year" and "Don't make the same mistakes I did freshman year". Entire books and websites are dedicated to helping freshman survive their first year.
We generally boil it down to the transition; having to make all new friends, living somewhere completely different and not necessarily nicer, and a huge work load. These can all be causes of deindividuation. Think it's happening to you? Not to worry, check out this website and get some advice on how not to lose your mind freshman year.