As my freshman year of college comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on everything that has happened this academic year - here are some small pearls of wisdom I have gained over this ride of a school year.
1. There is no shame in wanting to go home some, or even all of the time. Especially first semester, you’re going to miss your hometown to some degree - it’s different for everyone, but I know I missed my hometown a lot because I left behind so many close friends. That is where I feel most safe, most comfortable, and most wanted, and there is absolutely no problem with that.
2. For the love of God and all that is holy, learn how to do your own laundry properly. I mentioned this in an article last semester, and I probably will never stop mentioning it because it’s going to keep on happening. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen kids confidently put their detergent pod in the detergent drawer, turn the machine on and walk away. Just a protip, if your parents can’t teach you how to do your laundry properly, there’s always the internet.
3. There is no harm in wanting to be alone. I feel like when you go on campus tours you get the impression that you’re going to be so busy with clubs and activities and you’re going to be social all of the time, but when you get here, unless you join every club imaginable, you have a lot of time to lounge, especially on the weekends. And you have every right to spend that time by yourself. That’s why there’s student lounges, study rooms, and the library so you can go be an introvert by yourself!
4. Be prepared for your skin to freak out. Unless you live very close to where you attend school, the air in the area of your school will definitely be different than what it was back at home. Hello, different levels of air pollution = hello, acne!
5. Not every club is for everyone. I joined the marching band when I got here and I quickly realized that it really wasn’t something I wanted to do (I may go back, time will tell). I still love color guard and I’ll never stop loving it, but doing it at my university just didn’t seem right to me.
6. Be friendly to your professors because you need them a lot more than they need you. This is super important because if you’re ever applying for a job you’re going to need professional references, i.e. professors and faculty members you have relationships with. They are also your key to getting a better education - if you befriend faculty, your network only grows from there.
7. Do not be a slob. For a lot of people, this is the first time they’re living on their own (i.e. not with parental supervision). This is the time when your own living habits begin to form, and it is a great idea to not make one of them being an absolute mess when it comes to your living situation. I’m not saying I am a freakishly clean person and everyone should strive for complete perfection when it comes to cleanliness, but I try my best to pick up after myself and keep my bed made and my closet organized. What I’m trying to say is, at the very least, have a clear pathway from your door to your bed.
8. Homework and class always come first - unless there is an extenuating circumstance where you physically cannot move into that classroom, you should be in class. When it comes to having fun and going out, do your homework first. You can’t reward yourself if you haven’t done the hard work beforehand.
9. To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is unacceptable.
10. There is such thing as freshman fifteen, it is real, it will get you, and sometimes it will be more than just fifteen. (I actually have no idea if I’ve gained fifteen pounds, I probably have, I just don’t weigh myself, but that’s beside the point.) The freshman fifteen is real and it is coming for you.
11. You don’t need to bring your whole closet from home. I get it - you’re packing for school, you put in things you don’t really wear at home but you’re sure you’ll wear at school. Just don’t fall for it. You won’t wear them.
12. Find friends in your classes, because we all need someone who can relate to us when we complain about our communications homework.
13. Major change? No problem. It’s so common for people to change their major, I’ve already done it twice!
14. Existential crisis? College students have those every single day!
Ah, yes, what a life to live as a college student.