I remember the days when I was just moving into my freshman dorm three years ago. I met my roommate via Facebook, I read all the Odyssey articles about the first semester of freshman year and was the spokeswoman for Bed, Bath & Beyond.
I was ready.
Or so I thought.
Reading all of those articles and being so excited, I never stopped and thought about what I actually was going through. I can safely say I wasn't 100% prepared and honestly — who actually is? I'm about to graduate in May and I can also safely say I'm not 100% prepared for "the real world."
I wish someone would write an article or tell me what I need for this next chapter in my life, but it really doesn't work that way. As you grow older, there's not going to be someone holding your hand or directing you in the way they want you to go. You forge your own path.
However, as a second-semester senior, I can honestly tell this class of 2022 how they can prepare their young minds for college.
Research clubs and organizations you want to join.
This is a biggie. Coming into college, I was just nervous about making friends. But if you get on your university's website and browse their organizations, it's going to make a HUGE difference. Your university will most likely have a student organization fair. Virginia Tech has over 700 organizations/clubs on campus and they have a huge fair at the beginning of the year. Research ahead of time so you know what you want to join. This is also extremely important if you want to get ahead in your major. Joining a pre-professional organization like PRSSA, FBLA, or an honor society looks great on a resume as a freshman. Take it from me.
Know the dimensions of your room and what to bring to school.
Do bring those extra clothes hangers. Do not bring your third pillow from home. Trust me, there are some things that are necessary and some things that you will not touch three days in. When you're packing, just ask yourself, "have I used this in the past month?" And if you haven't, you won't use it in college. And this also applies to clothes — seasonal, too.
In August, you're probably going to need shorts until mid-September to the end of September depending on where you live. You also need to coordinate with your roommate (you'll know ahead of time) about room dimensions. How are you going to set up the beds? Bunk beds? Loft beds? Beds across from each other? My dorm room had built in closets so we had to work around that. Make sure you both agree on the room layout.
Make friends in the Class of 2022 page, or not.
Honestly, getting "acquainted" on those Facebook pages can be beneficial but sometimes it's not that important. I remember people talking in the Facebook comments on my class page and then I never saw them again. Unless you're sitting next to each other in the same class, chances are you won't recognize them by their profile picture. It's always best to get to know the people you'll be going to school with for the next four years and also seeing who's in your major... but also if you don't really use Facebook, it's fine too if you don't wanna.
On that first day of move-in when your parents leave, just make sure you're social and leave the door open! Don't feel awkward about it—it's a great way to make new friends.
Don't be closed off.
Chances are you're coming to college with either very few people from your high school or none at all. If you go to an in-state school there is a bigger chance a big group of people is coming from your high school, but either way, open yourself up to making new friends. College is about making NEW memories and you can't make new memories with the same friends.
I'm not saying ditch your BFF who you came to college with, but at least talk to your hallmates, classmates, and people around you. If you seem closed off, not talking to anyone because too shy, or always leaving the door shut, people won't come and talk to you.
Call your parents, because they love you.
Hey, you're not the only one who's making a huge life transition. Your parents will miss you a lot. You're their world and it's hard letting you go off into the real world for them. Do them a favor and call them. And not just parents. Call your grandparents. They don't have a lot of time left and would love to hear your voice and hear all the "young" memories you make at college.
Don't be afraid to say "yes."
Just like not being closed off, don't be afraid to make memories. Live it up. Go out if you want to. Say "yes" to going out. Say "no" to going out. Join that club that seems weird. You might meet your squad. If you want to run for student body president, DO IT. Don't be afraid to! Go Greek. You'll make tons of memories. I came to college three years ago scared and timid. Three and a half years later, I'm still that scared and timid girl, but with a brand new personality that is stronger and "wiser" because I said yes to rush. And now I'm in an amazing sorority with great friends. Even though it might get a tad annoying, I still don't regret my rush experience.
You will inevitably make mistakes in college. You're 18 years old! Even at 21 years old, I make mistakes. Do I regret them? Of course. I am human. I have anxiety about them. It sometimes keeps me up at night. I'm not going to say try to move past them, but instead, I will say just drive right over those little (or big) speed bumps. Those mistakes will be your drive, passion, and motivation to be a much stronger and more capable human being.
Make the most of these four years.
I went out. I experienced things. I met my best friends. I got into fights with my best friends. I studied all-night for that exam. I failed that exam. I made Dean's List. I got an internship. Or two. I worked. I was broke. Whatever you do, looking back on the three and a half years I had, I can safely say that I made the most of my college years. Yes, I do have regrets that I didn't go hiking as much or I didn't participate in that event. Do those things you thought you never could do.
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So, if you're still nervous about going to college, in a pile of sweat still by the end of this article, or just rocking back and forth in the corner of your bedroom scared til' no end, then remember that you can do this.