I sit in this ballroom watching and cheering as my sister walks across the stage for the first time and I can’t help but think back to a year ago when I was in her place. Taking my first steps across the stage, remembering not to trip myself, holding onto my diploma and staring into the light to a camera that you can barely see except for the flash. This is all too familiar and I think of the thoughts that must be running through her head as she takes the same steps as I once did. The fear of starting over, the excitement of new surroundings, and the heartbreak of leaving my family.
Are these same ideas floating in her head? Are they different? How can I help her ease these nerves of freshmen year so that she doesn’t have to know these hardships? Therefore, I have compiled a list of things that I wish I knew before I started at Beloit College.
1. Get to know your professors.
Your professors are the ones who are deciding on your grade at the end of the semester and they really truly want to see you succeed in whatever class you are in. They have office hours for a reason so even if you are shy in class and don’t want to ask questions, you can always go into their office hours and have one on one time. The professors are there to help you and will do anything they can as long as you are willing to put in the effort yourself.
2. To all you girls out there, you will not wear all of the clothes that you bring.
Yes I know that this is hard for you to believe because of all those cute clothes that you bought for all occasions. Although you need cute outfits for the weekend, your best friend is sweatpants and warm clothes for the winter. Even though you “know” that there is a perfect time for each outfit, most of the time there will be no need for that pencil dress that you ordered just for college.
3. Whoever you were in high school, no one cares
This one seems harsh but it is true. Even if you were the most popular girl at your school, or the person no one talks to, no one knows nor do they care. The people there are just like you and are trying to make friends just like you are. You will find friends that are more like you than you thought people could be. There will be people that you never in a million years thought that you would be friends with but they will be the greatest friend you will ever meet.
4. Life goes on
It’s not the end of the world if you get an F on a test or have to drop a class. It happens to everyone and no one is going to judge you on what you get. Life is not going to stop just because of one bad grade or one bad class. These are the moments that make you stronger and it’s what you do after that makes a difference.
5. Your family is always there for you
When you find yourself doubting your ability, the consideration of dropping out of finals, or even just feeling a little homesick. Family is always a phone call away. I have learned that even just calling in for 2 minutes is enough to make your mom's’ week. Even when there was no one to talk to at school, someone was always home and even when I was so far away from home, someone always answered. They are my shoulder to cry on even when I am thousands of miles away from home.
6. Try new things
Trying new things is not something that comes easily to most people however, it is a skill that should be developed during college. It is a great way to meet people as well as explore your own interests. Join clubs that sound interesting, join a fraternity or a sorority, take classes that peak your interests. College is all about exploring yourself and finding out who you are so why not explore all that you can.
7. Go to Class
The big hype I remembered being told was that “professors don’t care if you go to class or not”. This statement is somewhat true, however, you really should go to class. You are paying for your seat in the class, and it’s not cheap. Classes cost upwards of $100 per credit, which translates to, do you really want to waste that money and sit in your room.
8. The “freshman 15” is a thing if you let it be
We have all heard the stories of people gaining weight because of the college food as well as the lack of sleep, however, this doesn’t have to be true. If you choose meals that are healthier options as well as work out, you will not gain weight. Also getting the right amount of sleep is key in keeping the weight off. This is hard one because of the late night study sessions as well as the early classes, however, it is key to not gaining the weight.
9. You don’t have to drink
College is not all about drinking or going to parties, yes people do it but not everyone does. No one is going to judge you for your choice. Don't feel pressured to drink if you have strong beliefs about not drinking. If you are getting put down because you aren't drinking, you are hanging out with the wrong people. People even respect you more if you don’t drink! Partying and drinking should not come first to school or responsibilities.
10. The thing that you will miss most: Moms cooking
College food is not the best and you will seriously miss those homemade meals that your mom makes from scratch. Even the boxes of Kraft™ mac and cheese are going to taste amazing when you go back home. Take advantage when you go home and eat as many home cooked meals as you can because you will be seriously missing it when you go away and have the less than average college food.
11. Take advantage of the school programs
Tutoring is a great service that is provided and it’s free. The writing center is a great place to go when you need help on any sort of paper and it’s also free. These are great tools to help you get your best grades that you can get with the right help. Everything is provided to you, you just need to be the one to go and do it.Your first year of college is a time when you make friendships that will last a lifetime as well as the time where you just start to figure out who you are starting to become. This time, can be a struggle or a success it just depends on how you want to leave your mark.