College is no cake walk. You're on your own for maybe the first time in your life. Here are a few key things that my first semester at Purdue taught me..
1. The Freshman 15 is not a myth.
Food courts can make you go nuts. There's mac n cheese, build your own pizza, an ice cream bar, and a giant stack of plates to help you eat it all. May I also mention Mom is not around to cut you off? Desserts for dinner? Why not? I personally love any of the "Make-your-own" stations. It so easy to eat all the sugars and carbs, but then it sucks because a few months later you realize you've been putting off the gym, but not the cookies and you no longer fit into your favorite pair of jeans. Indulge every now and then, but be mindful to eat your fruits and veggies.
2. Be social.
It is so easy to lock yourself in your dorm and binge watch Netflix for the whole weekend, but please don't. You will have your whole life to sit at a desk all day. Don't take these four years for granted. You'll have to step out of your comfort zone, but it'll broaden your horizon on all the opportunities out there. It's college, something will always be going on. Join a club that seems interesting, try out intramural sports, maybe rush Greek life. Whatever sparks your interest go for it. If it turns out not to be something you enjoy, no biggie. There's always others. The main goal is to go out and make friends and de-stress. As much as I really didn't want to I decided to try going out to a tailgate. I went in knowing maybe one or two people and then left with three new friends. The more I went out the closer I became with strangers that I now call my close friends. Just be sure to not let your social life rule over your academic life. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Don't forget to study, study, study.
It's just you when you head off to college. You are solely in charge of yourself. It is up to you beat those due dates, get to classes on time, etc. This affected me especially when it came to classes. It took me the first few exams to learn a thing or two on what college academics are really about. Studying should not be taken lightly. Not everyone studies the same so you have to learn what methods work for you whether it be flashcards or writing open ended questions. Whatever works best for you. The beginning of my semester I used my breaks between classes to nap, but by November I was reading my Planetary Science book and writing definitions down and then napping for maybe 30 minutes. Hanging out with friends turned into intense study dates as the months went on. Grades did matter in high school, but now they really matter because on top of a diploma you are also trying to get a job and hopefully a career.
You don't study to merely pass a test you study to really know the material and to understand it so one day you can put that information to good use. The most important note is to know is that sometimes you will get bad grades regardless of how much effort you put in. A percentage number does not define your entire intellect. Don't strive for that A for the sole purpose of passing the class, strive to understand the material for yourself so you know you can apply it.
On top of those three points there are many more minor lessons to add on. I've only been in college for five months and I can say it has changed who I am. You quickly began to discover and learn new aspects of yourself that you hadn't noticed before. You make new friends, try crazy things, and learn life is more than textbooks and schedules. Whether you laugh or cry, you love every second of it and won't change it for the world.