Going into my first year of college, I never expected to learn as much as I did. But college is a time of figuring out who you are and what to do in life unlike any other. I feel that freshman year especially is a time of learning because you are placed in a new environment away from home and you are learning how to do life as an adult rather than as a teenager. During my freshman year, I learned some pretty big life lessons (like how to let go of toxic friendships) and some smaller lessons (like where to get the best hot chocolate on campus). But out of the 84 lessons that I have listed below, the most important thing that I learned is that all you truly need is faith, family and friendship in order to be content. As you go through your freshman year, you may discover some of the same things that I have, or you may discover entirely new things. Regardless of what you learn, I urge you to remember what is most important in life, just as I did. I'm so excited for you to explore all college life has to offer, and to one day come up with a list of your very own.
1. You are fully capable of manipulating your sleep schedule to take an 8:30 am class.
2. That being said, it might not be the best idea.
3. It is okay to swap out of a class that you were really looking forward to.
4. Challenge yourself to go to office hours. During my second semester, I tried to visit each professor's office hours at least once.
5. Try to connect with your professors about something outside of the subject.
6. Find one place in the library (or elsewhere) where you feel you can truly concentrate.
7. Sometimes you will study on a Saturday night. It will stink, but it is necessary, and next Saturday you'll be back to having adventures.
8. Figure out what planning style works best for you (and it's okay if you don't figure it out right away).
9. Prioritize what you have to do each day.
10. When overwhelmed, take a deep breath and tackle the first thing you have to do. Don't think about the other things until the first thing is done.
11. Find study buddies to make studying less miserable.
12. And when you study together, make sure it's actually productive.
13. On-campus employment can actually help you with time management.
14. But, if possible, always prioritize your school work over your job.
15. Studying isn't always the most important thing. Sometimes you need to be there for a friend or take a break to do something fun.
16. You will probably be more stressed than you have ever been in your life. But remember that it is purely temporary and that you will be okay.
Mastering the cafeteria
17. Avoid the cafeteria at busy hours if possible.
18. Look up the menu online so you know exactly where to get what you want to eat. This is especially helpful if you are indecisive, have social anxiety about crowded places or just want to make sure you get a balanced meal.
19. Make plans to meet up with friends before your meal if you don't feel comfortable eating alone
20. But no one cares if you do eat alone. Think about it – you wouldn't judge anyone for eating alone either.
21. Likewise, no one cares if they see you in the French fry line or walking to the desserts.
22. Eat what makes you happy and don't be too hard on yourself.
23. Don't try to hang out one-on-one with someone at the cafeteria. It will never work.
24. Steal fruit from the cafeteria for a healthy snack.
25. Budget your Dooley Dollars per week so you don't run out right away.
26. Sign up for a CVS membership so you get coupons. (One time, coupons helped me get a huge bag of trail mix for free!)
27. Although it's scary, learn to take initiative. Sometimes you need to be the one to reach out.
28. Just because someone doesn't reach out and ask to hang out with you doesn't mean that they don't like you. Sometimes they are just incredibly busy and preoccupied.
29. You can still be close friends with someone, even if you don't spend a lot of time together.
30. Take the chance to do something new with new friends, even if you're scared.
31. But don't feel obligated to put yourself in situations you know you'd feel too uncomfortable in.
32. Popularity does not exist in college.
33. Focus on being present with others (rather than being on your phone).
34. Do not take time with friends for granted, even if you hang out with your friends every day.
35. Most of the time, you are not intruding on people's lives by spending time with them.
36. Stop constantly wishing that you were better friends with someone, but enjoy the friendship that you already have with them.
37. Choose to be thankful for your friends instead of wishing you had more friends.
38. Be open, honest and kind to your friends. It will help you grow closer.
39. You don't have to have a best friend.
40. You don't have to have a friend group.
41. It is totally fine to belong to several social circles.
42. All you really need is a couple of friends that you know want your best.
43. You are loved and cared for even if you don't realize it.
44. You are never alone, no matter how alone you feel.
45. It's up to you to ask for help.
46. It is okay to let go completely of someone who has deeply upset you.
47. Sometimes being the bigger person means leaving a friend or friend group that do not make you feel valued.
48. Don't spend time chasing after people who do not value you.
49. Surround yourself with people who build you up.
50. Text people and tell them you're thinking about them (just because).
What to bring and pack
51. Invest in noise-canceling headphones.
52. Invest in a teapot and a good thermos.
53. Buy both caffeinated teas (for morning classes) and decaffeinated teas (for late-night studying).
54. Bring lots of sweaters (especially if you go to a school in a 'warm climate' – it will still get cold).
55. Likewise, bring gloves.
56. Bring waterproof shoes.
57. Invest in an umbrella you can carry with you in your bag.
58. Buy a backpack with a water bottle holder (or, even better, two).
59. Fuzzy socks are your new best friends.
60. So are blanket scarves.
61. You don't have to bring all your favorite books to school (especially the complete Shakespeare anthology).
62. Having on-the-go study snacks in your dorm is very helpful.
63. But don't wait to eat all of your food until finals, because you will have to throw a lot of food away during move-out.
64. Always pack something to listen to music with.
65. Bring a phone charger with you in your backpack.
66. Take advantage of free on-campus events (I went trampoline jumping, attended an AJR concert and got a bunch of free samples in the same month).
67. Waiting for free things in line with friends is always worth it (even if the free things are lame).
68. It is more important to work out and be uncomfortable rather than avoiding working out because you are scared people will see you.
69. Seriously, no one cares how you look when you work out.
70. There is no shame in calling your mom continually. That's what she's there for.
71. Find an activity that will recharge you and make time to do it daily.
72. Hold tight to your core beliefs, or be excited as you discover them.
73. Do not play the comparison game, because you will always lose.
74. Delete social media if you need to in order to do this.
75. Everyone's life looks much better from the outside, but the more you get to talk to people, the more you realize that they, too, are struggling.
76. Cleaning your room will make you feel less stressed (even if it feels like you have no time to clean).
77. Put up decorations that remind you of home (for me, those were my favorite books and cards from family and friends).
78. Have a Netflix show that you watch on a bad day (like Parks and Rec).
79. Be mindful of your caffeine tolerance.
80. Have relaxing morning and night routines.
81. Keep a record of your memories (whether through journaling, pictures or videos)
83. These don't have to be the best years of your life.
84. But they will be full of adventures all the same.