Dear Incoming Freshmen,
CONGRATS!!! You’ve made it through the past, and probably worst, four years of your life. High school was merely the starting steps through the staircase of life, and although the hike to the top seems weary and tiring, it will all be worth it.
College will be the best four years of your life; and although I’ve only gone through one thus far, I can still say that and completely mean it.
You are so, very lucky. No, I do not wish to be a freshman again, but I do envy you. Instead of only having three years of college left, you have four.
I still remember the day I moved in. It all felt so real and different and actually kind of scary. My parents left, and my roommates and I didn’t know what to do. We were finally on our own in a small room on a large campus full of people we did not know.
Yeah, it will be a weird moment. But embrace that moment, because before you know it, your freshman year will fly by and you will be exactly where I am today. Counting down the days until I can return to Athens, to my friends, and to a busy schedule that will include some of the best nights of my life.
I know this may seem scary, but the anxiety will soon be replaced with the excitement that each day is a new day to experience your new-found independence.
In the meantime, though, I have laid out some advice for you; because I know exactly the combo of nerves & excitement you have right now.
1 | Take a deep breath, it’s not as scary as you think.
Sure, you’re about to be on your very own for the first time in well, forever; but your parents, friends, guardians, and family are only a phone call away. And soon, your very own college family will be dorms away, even rooms.
So take a deep breath, in through the nose, and out through the mouth, because you’re going to kill it, kid.
2 | Put yourself out there.
Dude, seriously, put yourself out there. Everyone wants to meet someone new and make new friends. Everyone. This isn’t high school anymore. We are no longer bound by clicks and stereotypes. It’s time to find your people. Don’t be scared to go up and introduce yourself to that cute girl or guy, and especially don’t be scared to go introduce yourself to your neighbors on your floor. Also, do yourself a favor and check out the involvement fair. Trust me, you will find at least five clubs you will seriously consider joining.
3 | Get to know your roommate(s).
You have to live with this person, or persons, for the next year. If you don’t already know them, then get to know them. Go out and do things together! You may not end up in the same friend group, but at least you will always have a confidant to rant about life with at the end of the day.
4 | But don’t fret when your roommate and you don’t get along.
It’s better to know sooner than later…you two, or three, or four, won’t always get along. There will be spats, or even a day you don’t talk to each other; but please, please take my advice on this: make time to work things out. If something is bothering you, speak up. I know that’s a lot easier sad than done, but you have to teach yourself healthy confrontation skills, it will benefit you in the long run.
One of my biggest regrets is not learning how to work things out in a healthy manner, I was always too scared to come off as bitchy or controlling – don’t let those fears ruin a perfectly good relationship.
But if you do end up with the roommate from hell, don’t fret. Every college has a swift and easy moving out process. Just talk to your RA’s about it. At first they will try and get your roommate and you to work things out, but if you know it’s not a good match then it’s not a good match. Be upfront with your RA and ask for a room change ASAP.
5 | GET INVOLVED !!!
Join a club. Seriously. This isn’t high school where people are going to judge you for your interests. Plus, you will make so many lifelong friends. That’s why every campus has (or should have) an involvement fair. Find a passion, and go with it. You will be so much happier that you did in the long run.
6 | Try new things.
I tried fencing fall semester. Was it my thing? Not necessarily (I was a little too aggressive and wanted to sword fight more than keep a classy stance) but it was always something I wanted to try. So do yourself a favor and try something new! You may hate it, but what if you end up liking it? You never know until you try!
7 | Have fun, but set priorities.
ALWAYS set at least one night aside to be social. You’re going to need it, trust me (I know I say that a lot, but you really do have to believe that I know what I’m talking about here); but also remember why you’re at college – to learn and get a degree. If you’re the one paying for your tuition, then you’re wasting your money if all you do is go out every night and sleep through your morning classes. If your parents are paying for your tuition, then you sure as hell better not let them see your grades or your twitter from the past week.
Going out can become addicting, especially when put under a lot of stress – but push through it. You will thank yourself later for staying out late at the library Thursday evening over missing one night at the bar with a few pals. Trust me, I’m sure they’ll be down to go out on Friday.
8 | Go to class.
Just so you know, any class you have with 30 or less people in it, will more than likely take attendance for a grade. So don’t skip, it will knock your grade down lower than you think it will.
Bigger lecture halls usually don’t take attendance, so skipping when you need to isn’t a problem; but I’ve even had some professors take attendance for extra credit. And trust me, you’re going to need every ounce of extra credit that you can get your hands on.
All in all, try not an skip class unless it’s for a legitimate reason. Not because you didn’t feel like waking up at 8 AM or because your head kind of hurts and you don’t feel like walking across campus. Not going to class will only hurt you in the long run.
9 | Don’t drink the jungle juice.
As a freshman, you will get your fair share of invites to frat houses, especially if you’re of the female kind. But for the love of God, don’t drink the jungle juice. You can more than trust me on this one. Seriously.
10 | Take your parents advice.
They have been through what you’re going through. They know how tempting it is to go out over studying for a quiz, and they know that you’re just putting on a strong front half the time so that they think you’re much more independent than you actually are.
Listen to them.
You don’t always have to take their advice, sometimes they may be wrong – but they are going to be right more after than you think. At the same time though, don’t let them constrict you from experiencing life and learning to make your own decisions. This experience is going to be hard on them too, and at one point or another you may have to have a serious talk with them about boundaries. In the end, distance will do everyone some good, and you will miss them more than you think you will.
11 | That being said …. learn from your mistakes.
You are going to make way more mistakes a week than you can count. And that’s okay. That’s normal. What matters is if you learn from these mistakes. Sorry to break it to you, but you aren’t always right. I know, that’s a hard reality to face, but you are wrong more often than you think. Be introspective. Look at the situation maturely, and think through the best way to handle it. You can handle a lot more than you think you’re capable of.
12 | Rely on your friends for support.
And they will be doing to same to you. You guys are each other’s life supports when life gets messy. Learn to build each other up. If a friend needs to come over to rant for 30 minutes, you can take a 30 minute break from your evening library visit to chill, eat oreos, and rant. You will feel so much better in the end.
13 | Be careful of who you hook up with within your friend group.
It could turn into the best thing that has ever happened to you, or it could also turn into the worst thing that has ever happened to you. So even in your most drunken state of mind, be wary of the decisions you make. AKA, lay it all out for yourself before you start drinking. If you think Chad is hot AF, but know it would cause drama because Monica likes him, then please, don’t go for it. It will save you from unnecessary drama, time away from your studies, and a headache.
14 | Save the drama for your mama.
Alright kiddos. Time for a wake up call. As you are very aware (and if you aren’t you will be very soon) this isn’t high school anymore. People literally don’t give a shit about your drama; and if you try and start drama, you will either be laughed at, shunned, or you will quickly find out that people are ready to throw your shit back in your face with a ribbon tied neatly around the bag.
People become a lot more confrontational in college – we are all under a lot of stress. This becomes worse when people are partying – don’t fall victim to shit storm of dumb drama that you would find yourself in in high school.
First of all, remove all the negative people from your life. I can’t express enough how much happier you will be once you do this.
Second of all, if you have to rant about how annoying Courtney can be at the bar, do it to one, or both, of your parents. A very trustworthy best friend is always nice to have for that as well – but avoid talking about a friend to another friend in the same friend group, especially if you know what you’re about to say isn’t very nice.
Also, your parents can give you some great, unbiased, advice. They will usually tell you straight up how it is, if you’re wrong, if you’re right, and how to fix the situation. For real, listen to them and take what they’re saying into consideration.
15 | Make time for yourself.
Go to the gym, take a walk, take a nap, listen to some new music, watch some Netflix – whatever it is that gets you out of your head for a few hours, do it at least once a week.
In college you will have days on days on days where you literally don’t stop until you can finally crawl into bed at 2 a.m.. This will become the norm, and if you aren’t careful, you will neglect time for yourself. You can not only take a break from your friends for a few hours, but you will eventually want to. In college you are constantly surrounded by people 24/7. Like, literally. You will probably even have another human being or two sleeping the same room as you.
So take advantage of the weekends your roommate is gone. Use that time to enjoy the fact that for a few hours, you are completely alone. I know that may sound absolutely awful now, but in one month you will understand why I am giving you this advice.
16 | Wash your bedding!!!
This can be easily forgotten within the cluster of 500 other things you have on your to-do list, but it shouldn’t be. Try and at least wash your sheets twice a semester. Sleeping in dirty sheets will only lead to you being more susceptible to getting sick. And for the love of god, wash your sheets every time after you get sick. And that includes nasty hangovers that have you puking for five hours the next morning. You will just feel so much happier, and cleaner, knowing that your sheets are way cleaner than the clothes you went out in the night before.
17 | Watch your money
Just don’t spend it all on boos and food. Those are the two easiest ways to go broke before the end of each semester.
18 | & eat at the dining halls!
You will spend way more money on food than you think you will if you’re consistently trying to avoid the dining halls. There’s nothing wrong with getting chipotle or subway every now and then, but college is expensive. One of the those reasons is that we dish out a thousand dollars for our meal plan – so take advantage of it. They’re there for your benefit.
19 | Constantly ask yourself before every decision: Am I comfortable right now/with this, and will this make me happy?
Take chances. That’s what college is about – stepping out of your comfort zone. But you will be able to tell if something doesn’t feel right. Don’t put yourself in tough situations purposefully. Be smart, and make smart decisions that will make you happy in the moment, and tomorrow morning.
20 | Always remember who you are & what you want for your future.
I would say that this is the most important.
College is an opportunity to grow into who you are, and a process to learn more about yourself than you ever thought you would. Embrace this and accept yourself.
Being confident in your own skin is a huge key to happiness, and it will greatly benefit your future.
Loving yourself will allow you to explore what interests you and what makes you happier. This, in return, will lead you to making smarter, more beneficial decisions about your future.
Go for what you love and you won’t be disappointed.