Coming into college, I really didn't know what to expect. Should my expectation be high? Low? To me, going to college was just another life event waiting to happen when the time came. I didn't think much of it until I was about to move in. Towards the end of summer, I knew that I was upset about leaving my childhood and the people I loved the most. I was uncomfortable with being away from my comfort zone. I quickly reminded myself that this is just a natural part of life: growth. As much as there's truly no place like home, college has so far been the best thing that had happened to me so far. With the growth, experiences, and people, I couldn't have been happier. Hopefully, some of my "real-world" experiences will give you some insight into what college has taught me so far. I picked out a couple I thought would be worth sharing for now. Everyone's experience is and will be different, but if you take anything out of this article, it's that your college experience will be as little or as much as you make out of it. In the meanwhile, stayed tuned on more adventures and lessons I'll be having along the way :)
Freshman15 or Freshman150?Hungry Spongebob Squarepants GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy
What is Freshman15? It's rumored that freshmen will generally gain at least 15 pounds their first year in college. Everyone will have a different experience with it. Most of the time it's because people tend to rely on their parents for food and sometimes there may not be as many options in the house. But you know how when you're in a buffet and you find yourself piling up mountains of yummy foods and end up stuffing yourself? Yeah, that's college. No one will be there to help control what and how much you eat, that's on you now. You might not think you'd go to the dining hall late at night, but you will be tempted. Buy healthy snacks cause if you're surrounded by chips and the unhealthy, yummy goodness, then that's all you're going to eat! Freshman15 will hit you like a truck. If you don't want to consume unhealthy things, then don't surround yourself with them (that goes with people too). Also, experiment with dining hall food when it gets old (mix and match) and be mindful of what you buy and leave in the fridge too long...
Yes, you're off to college and it's super exciting. It's a new environment, you'll be busy meeting new people and getting used to your classes, but DON'T forget about your parents! While you're extremely occupied, your home is now either a bird short in the nest or an empty nest now. Even though you may be having an amazing time, your parents are now going to be more lonely at home now. They're not going to come home to find you studying, sitting on the couch, and they'll find an empty bed where you normally lay. There will be one less plate and one less meal to cook. Make sure to call your parents consistently every day for at least 2 weeks because maybe you're having the time of your life, but they won't be used to you being gone. As difficult of a transition it is for you, it's just as difficult for them. They're going to miss you a ton, and you will too eventually. We tend to forget that as we're growing older, so are our parents. So if you're not calling every day, be sure to call them or text them often every now and then. Don't forget about them cause I promise you, you're always on their minds.
Never say no to an opportunity to get to know someone cause you never know who they may be to youGiphy
You're at a new stage of life and you'll come to realize that your college friends will be different from your friends at home. If you're going to a college where a lot of your current friends are going, that's awesome! But don't be so exclusive in hanging out with just them. Part of the whole college experience is branching out to meet new people and experience different relationships. It's a true introduction to the real world, it's part of the growth. The relationships you'll have are elevated since you're surrounded by people who are all hitting that same learning curve. You're going to meet a lot of people who are different from you, so take the time to get to know them and learn from them. It'll feel like you have known them forever cause chances are, you're living with and around them so you see them more often. Also, you don't need to hang out around people you don't feel like or vibe with. Nevertheless, your friends from home will always be there… at home in your heart. You don't need to talk every day to be good friends, but don't forget to check up on them every now and then, you never know if they need that extra boost. Meeting up with them over break will be so much more special too. Real friends will make time for you and the same goes for you.
Don’t feel inferior among othersGiphy
This can apply in many ways, but I'll talk about in terms of how to figure things out and how to approach upperclassmen or professors. First, as much as you may not know how things work, the next person could be even more lost. Don't be afraid to ask for help because it will take a lot longer in trying to figure out something you have no sense of direction in. No one will belittle you, you're just learning and taking responsibility. Next, if you approach experiences and people with your chin held high and one step at a time, you'll be perfectly fine. If you're interacting with others, especially if they're older, remember that you have your own set of unique skills and characteristics, so approach them with confidence. I'd like to think that age doesn't necessarily correlate to how mature someone may be or how strong of a relationship you can build. It's just about experiences, trial and error, and just learning about your surrounding as you go. In fact, as you grow older, you'll realize that no one always knows what the heck is going on all the time. Rest assured, everyone is lost, some just fake it to make it better than others till they actually figure it out.
Your room (and surroundings) get dirty faster than you think it doesGiphy
Okay, seriously, try to keep your room clean. Yes, you'll get super busy and end up throwing things all over the place and not have time to clean up here and there, but really deep clean (vacuum, wash your clothes/bed sheets, organize your belongings, etc.) at least once a week. But if you put things where they belong and straighten up your things as you go, you won't have to spend a chunk of time later to clean up! Also, be mindful in what shoes you're wearing as you're frolicking in your room. Do you want squirrel poop in your room? Do you want everything that's outside your dorm to be in it? Then take your shoes off, wear sandals, or at least wipe down your room every now and then. Other people can be pretty nasty too, don't be one of them. No one is cleaning after you now, respect your roommate and your community, and clean up after yourselves. You're an adult now (surprise). If you're a girl, please pick up your hair, especially from the shower drains. All in all, you're living and breathing your room. You don't want to get sick...
...when you do get sickGiphy
Take care of yourself. Personally, I'd let my body recover as much as it can before I resort to medicine in a worst-case scenario. As a tired, stressed-out college student that's constantly surrounded by a bunch of us nasty people, you're probably gonna get sick pretty often your first semester here. Wash your hands, take a shower, HYDRATE, and SLEEP. But also, don't be afraid to take medicine when you really need it. Your energy level will dip when you're sick, top that with school work, and it could really break you sometimes. Take it easy. You need to get better first before tackling your courses and participate in your extracurriculars. It really is okay to drop your books and sleep at 9 p.m., trust me, your body will thank you for that.
Experiment and explore, let loose so you can release before getting back to hard work. Go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Attend those events held by your school or around your college town, they're tons of fun! Try local restaurants, go to a game, or attend a party. As nice as it may seem to stay in all weekend and not do anything, keep in mind that you'll make some of the most memorable moments going out, meeting new people, and just having fun with your friends. Take study breaks, you'll burn out if all you're doing is shoving your nose into a book. At the end of the day, stay in or go out, make the best out of where you are and who you're around. DON'T feel pressured to drink, contrary to what most people tell you that do drink, you really don't have to in order to have fun. Remember, it's not always about what you're doing necessarily, it's about who you're with. With the right people, you'll always have fun.
You need some sort of structureGiphy
If you didn't study in high school and you got by, I have news for you: It doesn't work in college. You really have to figure out how to prioritize your time. It's so important to dive into clubs and extracurriculars! Aside from the people you're living with, that's where your friends will be from. There are about a million organizations on campus. As tempting as it is to want to do everything, you just won't have the time to balance it all. Go out and explore what there is! Step out of your comfort zone and see what else may appeal to you. Don't bite more than you can chew. A good amount of clubs or organizations to be in would be around 2 or 3 at MAX. Adjust to college life your first semester before adding more on your plate. Get a planner or use Google Calendar to make your schedules ahead of time, you're less likely to forget something and it'll give you an easier time. Know when all your tests and quizzes are, study your syllabus, and be on top of your assignments! Set a routine and stick with it. Remember, academics comes first so be sure you're prioritizing that. That way, when you do have fun, you don't always have to have an assignment or your grades linger in the back of your mind. Next, the professors are not here to spoon feed you information to prepare you for the tests, a lot of that is on your own time. They won't remind you every two seconds over what's due, so you have to be disciplined enough to keep up with it. Lastly, sleep is so so so important, if you're not getting enough, you're going to fall into a devastating cycle. Stay consistent. You're not going to remember anything after 1 a.m., so might as well go to bed.
It's okay to ask people for help, especially for school. Your professors really care about you, build a good relationship with them. They're really great and interesting people if you take the time to get to know them during office hours and after asking some questions after class. There are so many amazing resources in college for tutoring, exploring career options, and for any mental or physical needs. Do not be afraid to seek out other people for something you need. People will help provide the support you may need, so please don't hesitate.
Not knowing what to do in lifeGiphy
It is 100% okay to not know what you want to do in the future. Plenty of people change their majors in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, "About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once… On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career." College is the prime time to explore. Other people may be absolutely sure they want to do business or pre-med, but even if you are absolutely certain or not sure at all, keep an open mind. Take the opportunity to explore peaking interests, talk to professors, people in and out your major, and those in a variety of professions to get more of a feel of what you are interested in. You don't want to be that person who realized that medical school really wasn't for you as you're going through the interview process and spent all of undergrad focused on science when you suppress your desire to possibly try something new. But even if that person is you, it's never too late to learn. Keep an open mind. Success has no timeline, so whatever track you're on… it's the right one.
You’ll be so much happier in collegeGiphy
You're going to hit a learning curve and learn how to adapt. A friend of mine who graduated this semester told me that as much as college is about education, it's also about the whole experience altogether. As cheesy as it sounds, he said that "there are big ships and small ships, fast ships and slow ships, but the best ships are friendships." You're in a period of self-discovery, you are able to choose who you want to hang around, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn and have fun. Definitely make the most out of it because college is what you make out of it. If you want to make friends and have great times, you're going to have to actively seek out those opportunities. People and opportunities will not always naturally come to you. Branching out is so important, it's an important part of growth, and that's part of the whole college experience. You can't expect to make friends and have fun if you stay in your dorm all day or for every weekend. Be involved, that's the only way you'll begin to have some exposure to campus.