Dear incoming freshman,
College is right around the corner! If you are anything like I was this time a year ago, you've been scouring the internet for lists of what to pack for college and lists of things that aren't worth bringing. (Do you really think you're going to need that Ninja blender?) You have probably made multiple trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, you name it. You might even have a Pinterest board dedicated to your dream dorm room. Come move-in day, you'll have what you need and if not, Wal-Mart is never that far away. I want to give you some suggestions for things you need to begin the next chapter that won't fit in a large plastic bin. These are principles that I wish someone would have given me a heads-up about when I was in your shoes. I guarantee that if you can check these seven concepts off like you'll check off your dorm decor, you will be that much better prepared for your first year (more or less) on your own.
A faith you can turn to. This is the most important item on this list. College is a HUGE transition and nobody really tells you how hard it is. So that's what I'm doing now: COLLEGE IS DIFFICULT. Your classes are harder, you have to make new friends, you may have to adjust to a new city or state, you're most likely sharing a room with someone, and your time is 100-percent yours, so you have to learn how to use it wisely. You need to have a God to lean into when you feel completely alone as well as when you ace that Bio test. To cry out to and to praise. Community is something to be sought out, but a relationship with the Creator is irreplaceable. I don't know how I would have gotten through freshman year without my faith. If you're searching for a God, I strongly recommend the King of Kings, He is second to none.
Acceptance and recognition that high school is over. You were prom queen, cheer captain AND valedictorian of your graduating class?! Congrats! Now let's move on. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your high school accomplishments, but there is something wrong with acting like that somehow makes you better than anyone else. This was a rude awakening for me upon starting college, so I'm giving it to you straight. High school ended when you threw your hat in the air, so leave your credentials and the petty drama there. As far as the friendships go, they'll be harder to maintain than ever before, so make sure you know who your true friends are.
Amends and closure. If there is anyone you feel like you need to confront, forgive, or apologize to, do it before you drive off to school. College is a fresh start, and unrest from the past will only taint that.
An open mind. You're going to be exposed to ideas, behaviors, and types of people that you've never encountered before in college. So while you need to know what you stand for, make sure your mind is open to this newness.
A desire to learn. That is what college is for, after all! For the first time you get to study what truly interests you, so get ready to soak up some knowledge. GPA is important, but the act of learning matters more.
An attitude of gratitude. I encourage you to enter college gratefully. Grateful for the opportunity you've been given, for all that your parents have done for you (especially if they are paying for your tuition), and for the hardships you've endured that have made you the person you are today. When it feels like freshman year is kicking your butt, I want you to remember how thankful you should be. You have no idea how many people would kill to be in your place, at your school, in your major, right where you are.
A loose grip on your future. One of my best friends always talks about holding her future with an open palm. You don't know what tomorrow will bring; tomorrow isn't even promised. Obviously you should plan for your future, and choose a major that you can see yourself loving. But at the same time, know that God's plan for you may be very different than your own. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." When you loosen your grip, it frees up space to let God step in.
Tuck these away in your suitcase next to the Command strips (you'll need plenty of those). Freshman year can be a time of incredible personal growth, if you let it be, so get pumped! I wish you the best of luck!
A Sophomore Who's Been There