Congratulations! You are about to embark on your college journey. You worked hard, wrote countless essays, submitted never-ending applications, but here you are about to start your first year of college.
Nothing is more exciting than getting that first taste of freedom and the chance to live on your own.
You might assume you have it all figured out as you prepare your bags for school, but the harsh reality is you don’t. Take it from me, a college senior who thought he had it all figured out until reality came along and said not so fast.
So read with me as I write to my younger self and give advice that I wish I had before starting my college journey.
First things first, you do NOT need to bring every single T-shirt you own to college.
Adjusting to dorm life can be tough. After all, you're moving into a single room that barely fits your bed and desk. This alone will teach you what you truly need. Do you need to bring your winter coats and snow boots for August through October? No you do not. Closet space is a hot commodity, and therefore should be preserved as much as possible.
I brought every shoe I owned to school, quickly running out of closet space and resulting in keeping my shoes under my bed. In reality I did not need a pair of Timberlands, Uggs, and dress boots during the hot months of the semester.
If you need help deciding what to bring, read this article on the 10 most important items to bring to college.
Moving on from my inability to not bring every article of clothing and accessory I owned to college, let’s talk about a more interesting subject: Friends. College is the place where you meet the best man at your wedding, the godfather to your children, and the people that you will share memories with for a lifetime. The only thing missing is YOU! College is a chance for a fresh start.
Meeting new faces, and experiencing new things, this is the time where a person truly finds what they want in life. So before going to college, think about what you want your life to look like.
Maybe you didn’t party in high school but want to have that “college experience”. Go for it! If you want to take extra classes and graduate early to save money, study hard!
Try new things
The most important thing to remember is that this is the time in your life where you can try new things, see what piques your interest, and figure out what makes you, you. Never again in life will you find yourself surrounded by such a diverse group of people, all of whom have independent interests and goals.
So surround yourself with people that represent what you want in your life. After all, psychological studies have shown that we take on the traits and habits of those we surround ourselves with. Find those people that you want your life to be like, whether that’s the bookworms who spend every day in the library, or it is joining a fraternity to make lifelong friends. Keep in mind that there is a place for everyone.
This isn't high school
Speaking of bookworms, homework is vastly different in college than in high school. While oftentimes homework in high school appeared to just be “busy” work, homework in college is a continuation of the lecture. These assignments are meant to combine with in-class activities to meet the credit hours requirement for any given class.
So avoid falling behind, because your job is to learn material through the homework so you can elaborate on it in class.
Much like homework, group projects and presentations will be an integral part of your learning experience. You will find yourself working with all different kinds of students, which will require you to not only adapt to their learning styles, but also learn new tricks and tips along the way. This plays into having an open mind due to the fact the majority of learning in college happens outside classroom walls. College is a place for not just intellectual growth but also personal growth, which happens when working and learning with other students.
All in all, college is the best time of your life. It's a time when you get to live with your best friends, go on crazy adventures, and meet people who will be with you forever. It is important to remember, though, that not everyday will be good, and oftentimes days will seem more difficult than fun and easy. This is common, and it is crucial that you not only keep a positive mindset, but if necessary seek help to get you through hard days. You are about to embark on the best journey of your life, and while it will have highs and lows, it is all worth it in the end.
If you're a freshman, listen up
My final piece of advice is this: Never lose your smile.
You will find yourself surrounded not just with great people, but countless amounts of great resources as well. They are all there for YOU. Make the most of it.
Good luck this freshman year, I wish I could be joining you but here I stand at the end of my college path forever grateful for my experiences so far.
Stay safe, stay happy, and most importantly have fun.