Transitioning to college is a big deal. Some people find it hard to leave their families and friends behind, while others were probably ready to leave last week or maybe even last month.
I'm sure you've all read letters of advice to incoming freshmen before, but I wanted to write this to those who are going to St. Louis University based on my own personal experiences and things around campus.
1. Welcome Week
Welcome week is something that you'll either love or hate. No matter what, you'll have a good time meeting those on your floor and around campus, but some people will enjoy this more than others. I, for example, found those few days to bring on a full roller coaster of emotions. I was happy to meet new people, get to know my roommates, and begin my transition to college. I was also really upset to be leaving my family, nervous to be on my own, and anxious to make sure that I was saying the right things.
As cliche as this sounds, remember who you are. Don't change your personality, attitudes, morals, or beliefs just to "fit in" the crowd. You'll find people that love you just for you, it just might not be during welcome week.
2. Start Slow
On the Wednesday of the first week of classes, there will be an activity fair so that you can see all of the clubs, groups, and organizations around campus. You'll probably want to put your name on every table you pass, but remember that there's only 24 hours in a day, and you need to fit eating, sleeping, and class in there as well. Find what you love, but don't overwhelm your schedule- you (and probably your grades) will regret it later.
3. Save Your Flex
If you have no idea what "flex" is, here's a simple definition:
Flex - glorious meal-plan dollars that you can use around campus at Panera, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Subway, Qdoba, etc.
Don't go out and get your favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte every MWF before your 9AM class. Your flex will disappear before your eyes. Set a limit on how much you want to spend a week. You're also in luck because the new dining hall is supposed to be fabulous. Use your meal swipes!
4. Try Recruitment
I don't care if you're dying to be in a sorority or not. Try recruitment! I was within a push of a button my computer to try out recruitment, and unfortunately, I decided not to pursue the opportunity. Look at me now, though! I am serving a position on Cabinet for the sorority I am in and I love it. SLU isn't a big state school and you don't have the cookie-cutter sorority life that you see in the movies. You meet some of your best friends in greek life - and why not just try it out for a few days to see if you like it? I said I'd never be in a sorority, but now I can't picture my college career without it.
5. Check In
I'm not talking about checking into your new dorm room. I'm talking about checking in with yourself, your family, and your friends from home. Just because you're living away from home, doesn't mean that you disappeared from their lives. You have something known as a cell phone. It works for calling and texting people! Use it!
Also, check in with yourself. Be sure you're not overloading yourself. Being homesick is okay. It's normal. Just address your feelings and move on to better places. These feelings will pass - I promise.
6. Don't Forget Where You Came From
Don't forget who you are. Don't change yourself for others. You'll constantly hear this your freshman year: What? But she was so innocent in high school! Please, don't be the person they're referring to. Remind yourself who you are and where you came from. You're amazing just the way you are.
7. Use Those Resources!
I cannot stress this one enough. SLU offers SI Sessions (group studying with a TA), 1-on-1 tutoring, and a writing resource center. These are all amazing resources to keep in mind when studying. Needing tutoring in highschool may have been embarrassing, but in college it shows how much you care. Those appointments book up fast. Use them - they're free!
There's also your faculty mentor, academic advisor, campus ministry, the counseling center (which is more popular than you may think), and disability services. Bad test taker? Struggling to get used to being away from home? Feeling down about a recent life event? See any or all of these people. They're there for you! That's literally their job. Let them help you.
Side note: disability services is not just for those with what society views as a disability. Not the best test-taker because you get all sweaty and lose everything that you studied? Guess what? Disability services can set you up to be successful. Don't be embarrassed. Don't try and do it on your own. Make it easy on yourself and address your weaknesses.