Now that we've made it to the home stretch and most college students are back home for the summer, I thought this would be an optimal time for reflection. My first year of college was the best of my life, but it was also one of the most challenging. Living in a place away from my family for the first time ever was a major change, and while it brought some struggles, I gained a lot from these first two semesters. 9 of these things – which I assumed fellow college freshmen could relate to or future college freshmen could prepare themselves with – are listed below.
1. Procrastination is an illness
I thought I knew how bad of a procrastinator I was in high school...boy was I naive! Procrastination took on a whole new role in my life in college. It got to a point where I'd start cleaning my room or doing laundry just to avoid finishing a reading assignment or starting a paper. When deadlines become more spread out and assignments require you to be more self-motivated, that's when you really come down with the procrastination bug. Or at least that's how it got to me.
2. Sleep is precious
When you're waking up at 6:30 AM every day for high school – and I hate to say this – but you start to get used to it. Now, waking up for 10 AM classes is a struggle. I never used to take naps before college; now I learn to bask in a deep sleep whenever I get a chance in between work and classes. And Sunday morning sleep-ins never felt better.
3. Homemade food is a treasure
If you're lucky enough to go to a school where your catering service is pretty good, this may not apply to you as much. But even then, I assume nothing matches a favorite home cooked meal made by your family. Whenever I came home from my school – which had the worst dining selection ever – the first thing I looked for was what was on the table for dinner. You never notice what you take for granted when you're living at home, like nightly delicious dinners around the table with your family.
4. Online shopping is a drug
When you're a college student busy with a million things at once, finding time to go out shopping for new clothes isn't easy. This is what brings us college students to start spending hours browsing for clothes we may or may not need using just our fingertips. I didn't see the point of online shopping until I got to college – then it became another form of addiction and procrastination.
5. So is coffee
This is a given and slightly a cliche – the never-ending love story between college students and caffeine. Unfortunately the stereotype is all too accurate. We're all usually lacking in sleep and in need of coffee to get through our days successfully. I've always drank coffee, but this past year brought me to a point where headaches struck if I didn't have a cup within the first hour of the day at least. Hey, it's better than drugs, right?
6. Grades aren't everything
Yes, we are spending a boatload of money on this education and you absolutely should take your studies seriously. But, at the end of the day, letters and numbers don't determine your worth. Don't get stressed out about whether there's a plus or minus next to the letter on your paper. Remember that college is an experience – take a break from studying to get dinner with your friends and skip class if it's a nice day and you want to go on an adventure. Again, don't get me wrong – your college education is a key part of your future. But you are more than a GPA statistic; try your best and get the most you can out of these four youthful years.
7. Meeting new people is a gift
Growing up, most of us were stuck with the same group of kids we've been at school with all our lives. And sure, these people are very near and dear to our hearts, but making new friends is always good for your perspective. Getting out of that childhood bubble and getting the opportunity to meet all different kids of people is so refreshing. You start to make new connections – maybe some of the best you've ever had.
8. Growth is inevitable
Moving into college is one of the biggest life shifts you will go through. You're no longer waking up in your childhood bedroom or seeing your childhood friends every day at school. You're living on your own with a lot less guidance from your parents. It takes an incredible toll on you and ultimately changes who you are. I'm definitely not the same person as I was my senior year of high school, and that's a good thing. College pushes you to become more independent, self-sufficient, open-minded, and overall experienced. Being able to notice this growth in yourself is extremely rewarding.
9. Adulting is scary
Shopping for groceries, washing and folding, paying for band-aids – when did we become full-fledged adults? Just the thought of going from being nurtured in your childhood home to living in a strange place all by yourself is extremely frightening. But the good news is that you learn more and more about living as an adult every day – and if you look at it from this perspective it can be exciting. Just remember it's okay to text your mom about laundry questions or taxes; we're all just living in an in-between phase of life, in a limbo between childhood and adulthood, doing the best we can.