August 2015. 18-year-old me is moving into her first-year dorm, scared of the looming future. Four years later, graduation is less than a month away. We made it.
1. The next four years will fly by
It's cliche because it's true.
2. ... but that first semester might feel like 10 years
Don't let anyone make you feel bad because you aren't quite adjusted yet. Starting college is a curveball and a half.
3. You probably won't get to take every class you want to
That 20-person travel writing class that you are eyeing as a first year... don't bet on it. Wait until fourth year when you'll have a better sign up slot and cross your fingers it doesn't conflict with anything else.
4. And you'll end up regretting a few of the class choices you made
That class that had 3 hours a work a night... regret. That class that you didn't have to do any work for, and therefore learned nothing... regret. That professor that made you feel inadequate... regret.
5. Pick classes based on professors...
They can truly make or break a class!
6. Actually go to office hours if you need help!
You'll get your questions answered as well as get to know your professor better.
7. Don't kill yourself with credits
Trust me, you'll probably learn more by taking less credits and devoting ample time to actually learning the material in the courses you do take.
8. You'll find your way around eventually
Soon enough you'll know building names and know the quickest routes around grounds. Give it time, and go explore.
9. Join clubs
Even if you go to the meeting and hate it, there isn't a commitment to keep going. Clubs are one of the best ways to make friends.
10. Sleep is important
Don't try to be the kid that boasts on getting 4 hours of sleep. Use time management in order to keep that 7-9 hours of sleep constant.
11. Find a favorite study spot
Find that place where you are mentally prepared to be productive and crank work out.
12. Use your plus dollars!
Don't hoard them all at the beginning because you don't want to run out. Just budget them wisely and enjoy Chick-fil-A and Starbucks all semester long.
13. Intro Chemistry is hard for everyone
You may be failing, but everyone else is, too. Therefore, there must be a curve...
14. Document as much as you can, but don't let it take you out of the moment
Take pictures! Journal! Documenting fun things is great, but don't let it consume you. Take a step back and be present. Feel the feelings and observe everything around you.
15. Professors have lives, too
Don't get annoyed when a professor hasn't given back the exam in two days. Let the poor people breathe.
16. Don't assume you know what your plan is, because it'll change... and then change again
Remember when you laughed at all those people that didn't know what they wanted to do. Well, you're going to go through that one day, too, so humble yourself.
17. The dining hall is not as awesome as you think
Yes, there are a lot of options... but after eating there every day for four months, nothing is exciting anymore.
18. Friendships require work
Life gets busy. You have to be intentional in keeping up with friends. Actually set up concrete times to meet, don't just keep saying, "We should get together sometime soon!"
19. ... on both ends
Being busy is one thing, but true friends will make an effort to keep up with you. Don't put in more work than they do. Use that time and energy for more rewarding things.
20. Homesickness will subside
You'll get used to your new routine and life in a way that lets you appreciate home without feeling the constant desire to be there.
21. You are smart enough
Yes, you go to a really good school. Yes, there are people that are smarter than you... but that doesn't mean that you aren't smart. Don't be intimidated by your intelligent peers... be inspired by them.
22. Don't do things just because that's what everyone else is doing
Ask yourself if you'd really enjoy that activity or you're just checking off a box.
23. Don't be intimidated
4 years seems daunting, but day by day, you will accomplish your work and so much more.
24. Join a lab
Get involved with research! UVA has so many great opportunities, and they will be helpful in the future.
25. Get to know professors
The connection and advice you get beyond the class material can be extremely valuable.
26. You'll actually come to like basketball
Yeah, you thought you didn't like basketball so you didn't go to a single game your first year. REGRETS. Basketball is awesome and you will end up being National Champions your fourth year!!
27. Befriend people that aren't in college
Humankind does exist outside of the 18-22 age range, believe it or not. Volunteer or simply get involved in the broader community in order to get out of the little college-aged bubble. It reminds you that there is more to life than college.
28. You'll end up being best friends with the people you live with
Finding good roommates is hard, but you'll be blessed with good ones every single year.
29. Take advantage of the gym longer than just the first two weeks
Yeah, working out isn't your jam, but they have a lot of machines and classes that come in your fees so use them!
30. College isn't a competition
Don't look at your classmates as competition. Help each other out and cheer them on.
31. Take some classes outside of your major
Take a business class or a history class! This is the only period in your life where you'll be in a situation where all of this knowledge is so easily accessible!
32. Wear that crazy outfit
As they say, "You'll never look better than you do right now."
33. You didn't find "The One" but that's okay
So you didn't end up with a guy by your side on graduation day... but looking at everything you did gain, it's really okay. It'll happen when it's supposed to.
34. Keep your room clean
A clean space is a clear mind. All the clutter quickly translates into all areas of your life. Take those two minutes before bed to hang up clothes and tidy up your desk.
35. Gap years are more common than you think
It's not taboo to take a gap year after graduating college. You can use that time away from school to grow in different ways before committing to a career.
36. Make time for yourself
It can be easy to get caught up in this event and that in college. Soon enough you'll be mentally and physically exhausted. It's okay to have a night in and recharge so that you're able to enjoy the events you do choose to go to.
37. Call your parents
Yeah, you may not want to, but they want you to. It won't kill ya.
38. Manage your time wisely!
Use that hour you have in between classes to get work done! Budget more time for work than you think, and always plan out your week beforehand so you are prepared and know what needs to get done.
39. Get away from campus/grounds
Leave campus and explore the rest of the city you live in. There is more to the city than your school. Find hidden restaurants and see what the community has to offer.
40. Don't work while eating
Take that time to relax or socialize. Work doesn't have to infiltrate every area of your life.
41. There's more to life than academics
Your grades really won't matter in 10 years. Work hard, but don't kill yourself.
42. Do spontaneous things
If you get invited to something random, say yes! You never know what will happen.
43. Friendship has a lot of different shapes and forms
Past friendships will change and friendships in college can be as involved or uninvolved as you want them to be, and there isn't anything wrong with that.
44. Don't forget to appreciate where you are
In the busyness of everyday life, take a step back to realize your surroundings and everything that you are lucky enough to experience.
45. If you are unhappy with a situation, it won't change unless you do something about it
Don't sit back and hope everything works out. Go out there and work for what you want.
46. ... but also don't think that you can do everything on your own
You're not all-powerful. You will need help sometimes, and it is okay to ask for it.
47. Utilize the career center
They have great resources for you and give great tips.
48. Don't push your hobbies to the side just because you're busy
Making time for your hobbies will keep you happy and calm during the stressful periods of homework and exams. The key is to not feel guilty taking this time for yourself because this will actually make you feel even worse.
49. Do the silly things
This is the time in your life where you get to focus on yourself. Within limits, do the silly, somewhat stupid things while you can.
50. Don't compare your experiences to others
You don't have all the information. You're going to interpret other people's experiences incorrectly, so try to focus on the only one you do know: yours.
Four years will fly by. Don't blink.