In the past 3 days, I have received multiple E-mails asking for advice as incoming college freshman. I had a different post scheduled for today, but since so many are hoping for some advice while they prepare for their freshman year, I thought I would give it to them!
Since it’s only been a few weeks, I feel like everything is still fresh in my mind! Freshman year was one of the best schools years I’ve ever had. I think I finally understand why everyone says that college is the best 4 years of your life! However that isn’t to say that there weren’t some challenging times during those months (read about my first semester here). I learned a lot about myself through the process and grew a lot as a person.
While each semester was worlds different than the other,there were important lessons that were learned in both. So…let me stop rambling and break it down for you.
1. Understand this is not high school- Obviously college is different than high school, but let me forewarn you, it is very different than high school. Let me be blunt by saying your reputation and level of popularity in high school no longer mattesr now. Use this as your fresh start! No one has to know about the embarrassing mistake that happened in 9th grade. You’re starting out with a blank canvas and you get to decide how you paint it.
2. Take library breaks- This was my problem first semester. It was a difficult transition for me to be living at school. When I wasn’t in the library, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing homework. Since I was always at school I felt like I always needed to be doing schoolwork (I am happy to report I got a lot better second semester). It’s important to focus on your homework, but it’s just as important to take breaks and do something fun! My friends and I often studied together which helped to ensure that each of us would take breaks. Sometimes we would run and go get milkshakes or even take a walk around the lake.
3. Put yourself out there- As a military kid, I was used to moving and making new friends but I realize that not everyone has moved every 3 years and have gone to 7 different schools. But the best part about college? Everyone is new! Well at least everyone your age. Which makes it 10x easier to make friends! Everyone is in the same boat as you so there is no reason to be nervous about not knowing anyone. With that all being said, that doesn’t mean you can sit in your dorm room 24/7 and expect to make life long friends. Ask a girl on your hall that you don’t know very well to get coffee with you! Or join a club you are passionate about….even if you don’t know a single person. The first couple weeks are going to be hard…but with time, and a little faith (and effort) you’ll have made incredible relationships you wouldn’t want to change for the world.
4. Learn from the bumps- Just like every school year, there are going to be days when you want to go home and snuggle up in your bed with your moms cooking. But you can’t let these days out number the good ones. There will inevitably be bumps in your path, but the best thing you can do is to remember all the fun times you’ve already had in college and not dwell on the bad times.
5. Change is okay- Going to college is going to be a change. A big change. When you come home it’s going to be different. Not necessarily a bad different, just different. The relationship you had with some people might change, but at the same time you’re going to be making new relationships with new friends. For a person who hates change more than she hates cargo pants, I am going to warn you, it’s going to take time to fall into your schedule and find your niche. And the best thing to keep in mind is that sometimes change is for the better!
6. Organization is key- With fewer assignments that count even more toward your grade, it’s essential to stay organized. Dorm rooms are small and it can add even more stress if you are disorganized and can’t find something. When planning and packing your rooms remember that less is more in a shoebox size room. When I moved in, we brought an abundance of organizational containers and carts which really helped me feel more at home.
7. Put effort in keeping in touch- While you’re making a new life for yourself away from your family and old friends it’s important to not forget who helped you get there. Take the time out of your day to call you mom and dad and write a letter to your high school friends! Not only will it feel great knowing your making someone else happy in return you might receive some mail back!
8. Plan ahead- You only have 4 years! And just as you learned from high school, those 4 years fly by (I’m already 1/ 4th of the way done…what?!). I found it super helpful to sit down with a professor or advisor and talk about the classes you are required to take and possible programs you might want to do (like studying abroad). Another piece of advice I was given by my boss last summer in NYC was to take advantage of every summer. I started looking for internships starting around November or December to ensure that I had something planned for my summer.
9. Handle stress- I think it’s important to learn how to handle stress. It’s completely different for everyone but, high school is a good time to understand how to manage your stress and a ways to decrease your stress. Exercise and organizing (I know, weird) is just 2 ways I have learned to deal with my stress.
10. Don't Compare- I wrote a whole post about this that you can read more about here but, I call it the Instagram syndrome. Everyone has a tendency to judge their college experience based on everyone else’s. You compare Instagram pics or Facebook albums to your college experience. The thing is, is that you don’t see the time behind the pictures. You don’t see endless hours in the library or the all nighters in a classroom. When you’re sitting in a library, writing a paper at 1 am, it can seem like you’re the only one not having fun. Which is completely not true! I promise there’s a lot of behind the scenes pictures that were not posted.
Other college related posts that could help you out!