Dear freshman class,
The next four years are arguably the most crucial. In such a short time, you are expected to exceed the demands of your professors, maintain good grades, keep a social life, and answer the age-old question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Things will not always be fun and games, and you’re probably going to get hurt at some point, whether it be because of a relationship or because of that A you didn’t get. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your college years, but based on stuff I did and didn’t do, there are some important things to know before you begin the next chapter of your life.
1. School is the reason you’re there
Stay in school kids! Sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. I’ve seen people, especially in my first year, who thought it was okay to skip class. People have this idea that they will be okay simply by reading the textbook. This is false. The professors are there for a reason, and I’ve had exam questions based only on what was said in lecture. So please, go to class, and participate because it is so satisfying to get approval from a professor. There will always be parties, but the more time you waste staying hung-over in bed, the more you’ll regret it come exam time.
2. Socialize with different groups of people
The biggest mistake I made was not breaking out of my shell. I’m not a shy person, but I do struggle with anxiety. High school can often feel like a safe place where everybody knows your name. The truth is, while some friends will remain true through this next chapter, others become toxic. There is an entire world out there, and college is just the start of it. Step out of your comfort zone and socialize with people you never thought you would.
3. Stay active
People constantly worry about the dreaded “Freshman 15”, but I’m telling you to stay active not just for your physical health, but your mental health as well. Dorm rooms are small and if you lock yourself in there all night studying, you won’t retain as much information, and you’ll drive yourself crazy. Instead of taking a study break to eat and watch Netflix, walk around campus, run on the treadmill, or even try taking a non-academic class. You’ll be more prepared to get back to the study grind, and feel good about the gym grind.
This is something I wish I did more of. Volunteering will prepare you for the real world of having to interact not only with fellow employees, but with the “client” or the “customer”. I’ve always wanted to do a study abroad program, or volunteer to teach kids in third world countries, and I strongly encourage you to grab hold of the chances I have yet to take. If traveling isn’t your thing, maybe try being a first year rep for student council. It will help you get to know the school better, and help students who are in the same position as you.
5. Join a club
Being part of a recreational dance team on campus was a great decision. In my first year away from home, I missed dance, and knowing that there was a team I could join to dance, raise money for charity, and make friends along the way, was amazing. There are thousands of groups that spark every interest, so join whatever makes you happy. Plus, it opens you up to new and refreshing friendships.
6. It’s okay to be homesick
I am a huge homebody, and at first, when I would go home on the weekends, I would feel embarrassed because I knew my roommates would make fun of me. But now I realize that it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. If you miss your family, count that as a blessing – it means that you always have a support system, and people who will be there with a warm welcome and a home cooked meal.
There is so much to learn in college/university about your studies, your relationships, and most importantly, yourself. Don’t be afraid to take chances, and figure out what will truly make you happy. This is the best time in your life to do anything you want, so always take advantage of the opportunities this beautiful world has to offer.
Featured image via Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels