As a rising college senior, I’ve been recalling some of the things I’ve learned over the past few years of my college experience. I’ve definitely grown a lot since I was a freshman. I’ve made a lot of amazing friends. I’ve developed professionally. I’ve been offered great opportunities. I’ve also had a lot of fun. Pulling from all the experiences I’ve had since the fall of 2014, the following points are some things I’d like to pass on those freshmen beginning college this fall.
This one seems like a no-brainer. Of course you should have fun! You’re at a new place with a lot of different people and you’re basically on your own for the first time. Go to the orientation week activities and make the best of them (some of them are super lame and annoying, but some of them are pretty cool, and they’re only offered to other freshman). Explore your campus with some of your floor mates. Join an intramural team. Go try some new food at the restaurants around campus. Let yourself relax, especially in those first few weeks of classes. Allow yourself time to enjoy your school and try not to get too overwhelmed with the new-ness of it all.
Study. Study for exams. Study for those five point quizzes. Do the readings. Your homework isn’t collected for points? Who cares! Do it anyways. The material will be on the exam. If you find yourself struggling with any aspect of a class: go to your professor! They set up office hours for a reason, and if you can’t make it to those, ask to meet with them anyways. It also allows them to get to know you, which is great for when you need a letter of recommendation. Find groups of people from your classes and set up times to study. If studying with other people isn’t your thing, set up times to meet to just make sure you understand what material will be covered on exams and papers. Getting to know some of the people in your classes will greatly benefit you when you have to miss class and need notes, or just want people to go with you to grab some coffee.
Eat by yourself.
For some reason, everyone fears being that person eating by themselves in the dining hall. However, I think it’s a great experience, and definitely one that I’ve come to cherish. Take the time to yourself. Grab your food and pick a nice spot by a window, or if it’s a beautiful day, find a nice spot outside. You can eat in silence or while listening to music or watching Netflix. Take the time alone as a break between classes, maybe even use it to go over notes from the previous lecture before your next class, or to get yourself organized. Learning how to be alone is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned.
Go on adventures.
As a freshman, it can be really hard to find ways off campus without a car. However, your student government or campus activities board probably organizes fun events that can take you off campus for a few hours on the weekends. Find some friends itching to get off campus and go on a walk. Freshman year, my friends and I walked to the thrift store and explored the huge cemetery by our campus. We went to the opera. We went to the local art institute. We went to Cedar Point. We took a lot of opportunities to explore the community beyond our campus, and it was always a breath of fresh air to get off campus to do something fun.
Don’t be afraid to explore and have fun. Honestly, everyone is in the same boat as you coming into their freshman year at college, so, as cheesy as it sounds, just be yourself. You’ll find a group of friends, have a lot of fun and learn a lot. It goes fast, so take time to enjoy your four years.