Dear College Freshmen,
First of all, congratulations and welcome to your first year of college! High school is officially a thing of the past, and now it's time to look ahead to all of the new adventures awaiting.
I'm sure you are all busy purchasing all the items you need (or think you need) for the next four years. Or perhaps you've barely given thought to your college shopping list? In either case, the start of the fall semester is quickly approaching, and the stresses of moving away (if you are) and/or starting at a new school will begin to pile up. You'll wonder about new friends and how your professors will be: kind and supportive or evil and demeaning. Let me just tell you that there is no in between. College is an experience like no other, especially if you've elected to go to a 4-year institution.
I am one of those people, by the way. I am entering my senior year at Endicott College, and I'm a criminal justice/psychology double major. Even after months of thought in high school and three years spent taking classes in each of these subject areas, I honestly am not 100% sure of what I'd like to do with my degrees. Truthfully, I'm not sure I ever will be. This is where my first piece of advice comes in: if you still have no idea what you want to pursue in regards to a major or after graduation, it is OK! DO think about it. DO spend time finding internships and other opportunities to help you peel back the layers until you hit the core of what your interests are; this not only will help you build your resume for future jobs, but it will also point you in a less zig-zagged direction. As you might imagine, thinking deeply about the answers to these life-altering questions can be overwhelming. But DON'T stress. There are people who take 40+ years to finally nail down what their passion is, while others have it figured out at the age of 5. It's a spectrum! Be open to things you feel you don't like because it may just be that you end up loving it. However, on the flip side of that, if you feel you have your whole life planned out and picked a career, avoid sticking to it so much that you miss out on other valuable opportunities. PSA #1: Going into college with a "plan" is silly because it will change. Just saying!
In addition to the futuristic aspects of college, you're probably worried about your roommate(s) and whether or not you'll be able to live with them for a whole year (even if you already know them)! My freshman year I was in a quad, and there was a roommate that three of us didn't care for. Still, we got along and stuck it out. We put in the effort to make it work and respected each of our differences. There were things I didn't like about all of my roommates, but I'm sure there were things they didn't like about me either. This balance is hard to find, but it is possible. Be respectful while also standing up for yourself. If your roommate starts hogging the whole closet speak up! If you don't, he/she will assume it doesn't bother you and probably start hogging other things too. The bottom line is this: (PSA #2): feelings will be hurt, fights will be had, arguments will arise, and blood will be shed (kidding). On a serious note, just be aware of your habits, be open, and be mindful. College is a huge adjustment!
My last major piece of advice has to do with the transition from high school to university. High school may have been a breeze for you. If it wasn't and you had to work hard for what you accomplished, this advice may not resonate as much. But for the people who showed up to class, gossiped, passed notes, failed to pay attention, can't remember anything they learned in any of their classes, never had to study: this one's for you. College is HARD. Classes are HARD. Professors don't care that your alarm was never set, or that your roommate was in the shower when you had planned to do so. Some professors will confront you about missing class to make sure you're okay and don't need anything from them; these are the professors who have your back and might cut you some slack if you let them know about conflicts ahead of time. The professors you need to worry about most are the ones who act like skipping class isn't a big deal, who don't ask you where you were, who don't concern themselves with your absences. These professors are the ones who will dock your overall grade on attendance. They pay attention, even if they don't ask where you were. Do not be fooled! Of course, skipping class once in a while is inevitable, but don't be that student who never shows up. Beyond attendance, be alert in class! What's the point of being there if you aren't going to engage or pay attention? Like I said, college classes are not like high school. Maybe the prerequisite courses/general ed. courses will resemble high school, but once your course load is comprised of all major-specific courses, you will notice the difference. Be prepared to have to put in effort. Be prepared for the realization that there are no teacher's pets anymore. Kissing up is not an option. This is the last step before the real world, and your professors will treat you as such. PSA #3: College is NOT like high school!
Before I wrap this up, I want to wish you luck. You've made it this far, and college will give you opportunities of a lifetime. Take them! Get involved, be active, make friends, be social, and have pride-- pride for yourself, your school, and your friends. Be smart with your decisions not only academically and professionally, but socially too. College will shape you into the person you are meant to be, and you will meet lifelong friends along the way. Be scared, but be excited too. Life is all just a learning process. I hope all college freshmen find their niche and enjoy their first year. This year sets the tone for the rest! Best wishes through all of the highs and lows that lie ahead.
A Rising College Senior