1. Nobody cares.
This was without a doubt the hardest thing for me to learn. I was so accustomed to having my teachers, parents, and peers be there for me at all times, and they were always willing to help me and support me in every way possible. In high school, you could walk up and down the halls and see all your friends, and you knew everyone in your classes. But in college, you’ll find yourself sitting in a lecture hall filled with hundreds of people who don’t know you, and they probably have no desire to get to know you. If you don’t show up for class, nobody cares. If you get sick, nobody cares. If you don’t study for your exams, nobody cares. If you go out and party on a school night, nobody cares. You’ll love the freedom that comes with college, but beware of the heavy consequences that also follow.
2. You have to take care of yourself.
Nobody is there to remind you to eat healthy and get enough sleep. It can be something as simple as drinking orange juice with your breakfast, but if you don’t eat well you’ll find yourself feeling sluggish. You might think that pulling an all-nighter will help your grades, but in the end it’ll just hurt you. Take care of yourself mentally too, make sure you allow time in your hectic schedule for some “me time” and take a few hours a week to do something you love. Feeling stressed or emotionally drained? Check out your school’s counseling services and make an appointment. Your tuition already covers it, so you might as well take advantage of it. Trust me, talking to an unbiased and professionally trained counselor is one of the best stress relievers, and no, it doesn’t make you crazy.
3. The school work is hard.
This isn’t high school, the classes are hard and the workload is heavy. For every one credit hour you’re enrolled in, you should spend two to three hours a week studying outside of class. You only spend about 12-18 hours a week in class, but you could be spending anywhere from 24-50 hours a week studying. They aren’t joking when they say college is a full-time job! Make time to study, and take advantage of the library, study resources, and your professor’s office hours.
4. The “Freshman 15” is real.
Whether it be from lack of physical activity, over-eating of junk food, or late-night stress snacks; you’ll most likely gain a few pounds. Take advantage of the gym and dietician on campus; again, your tuition already covers it so it isn’t costing anything extra! At the beginning of the year get into a routine of committing to a few hours of exercise a week. Your body will thank you! You’ll want to be healthy and happy so feel free to have that late night Taco Bell every now and then, but don’t let it become a daily thing.
5. Procrastination will hurt you.
This includes skipping class. If you’re thinking of skipping class, just don’t do it because it may become a habit. Don’t wait until a day or two before it’s due to start on an assignment. I suggest buying a planner, preferably a cute one, and write down when something is due and when you need to start studying; that way you’ll have plenty of time to get everything done. This is also where time-management skills come into play and believe it or not, if you talk to your academic advisor they can help you plan out a study schedule. I know I’ve said this a bunch already, but take advantage of all of the staff and on-campus resources, as it is most likely covered in your tuition.
6. You will get homesick.
This isn’t a bad thing, nor is it something to be embarrassed about. I went into college thinking I would never come home except on school breaks, and I didn’t think I would miss my family because I’m extremely independent. Boy was I wrong! As the year progressed into the second semester, I found myself longing to go home every free opportunity I had. I still haven’t come up with a cure for homesickness, but calling your family and friends from home definitely helps.
7. The first friends you make might not be your best friends.
If you’re like me, then you had pretty much the same group of friends for junior high and high school, and it might seem like you’ve almost forgotten how to make new friends. Don’t stress, because everyone else is in the same situation! You might find yourself clinging on to the first people you meet, even if you don’t really like them. It took me almost the whole first semester to find friends I really liked. Sure I had to deal with a few rotten apples, but it’s worth it now that I’ve finally found my best friends! If you don’t feel like you’ve met any good friends, don’t be disheartened. Join a club, branch out, and see if you meet anyone with similar interests!
8. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness.
Everyone cries, as cliché as it sounds, it is part of what makes us human. Whether it's from stress, sickness, your latest test grade, or homesickness, don’t be afraid to cry it out. We all have breakdowns and it is okay to have a little private time to cry over the phone to your mom, or even in the middle of the library. Just remember: crying may help relieve stress, but it won’t fix the situation. Give yourself some time to cry, pout, and be upset, then get your head in the game and find a solution. Sometimes it can be as simple as accepting that you can’t fix the problem and moving on. Every day is a new day, so wake up with a fresh, positive perspective, and keep your head up!
9. If you think you’ve studied enough, you probably haven’t.
This is a big one, you may think you have studied enough for your test, but if you have to decide between going out with friends and staying home to study or prepare for your assignments, then choose wisely. I'm not saying you should study every waking moment, but make sure you’re prepared with plenty of time to review before the big test. By starting to study in advance, you can avoid any last-minute cramming or all-night study sessions.
10. In the end, it all pays off.
Finishing my freshman year of college meant a lot to me; my friends and family always joked that I would get distracted in college and either flunk out or drop out. Although they were joking, I took it to heart. I finished my freshman year, maybe not the best I could, but I did it and so can you! College is a crazy whirlwind of excitement, nervousness, and amazing moments and people. Be prepared, and don’t stress about the small things. Now is your time to spread your wings and fly, because you’re about to embark on a journey that includes the best years of your life.