Dear Incoming College Freshmen
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Student Life

Dear Incoming College Freshmen

An open and honest letter of guidance for wide-eyed freshmen written by yours truly.

Dear Incoming College Freshmen
Katie Francis

Dear incoming freshmen,

Entering into your first semester at college is a rollercoaster of emotions and change, but overall it is an experience that is going to benefit you. From my knowledge so far, it's worth it.

I was very nervous entering my first semester, and I was not really sure what to expect. I had probably everything that my mom could have ever bought at Bed Bath & Beyond, and my dad could pack into our van to move me in the August morning. But nobody could have prepared me for the intangible things to come.

Nobody could have prepared me for the conflicts between my personal schedule and my school schedule, or the unpredictable bumps along the road that nobody could have seen coming, including three deaths in my life since the semester began. Sure, you can have all of the packs of Ramen off the shelf and color-coated binders with every syllabus printed and hole-punched into each one, but you're never going to be prepared for all that college has in store for you until you actually live it.

That's okay.

That paragraph is not meant to scare you, and I do have some tips because, at the end of the day, a first semester college student is going to have better tips than your parents who went to school in the "Stone Age".

There are five key things to prioritize that are difficult to balance as you begin your life as your own individual person and an adult. These include financial, social, physical, intellectual, and emotional. All of these aspects have different struggles, and they often interfere with one another as you try to adapt to a new world and conforming to a new schedule that you have the ability to work and create.

The financial aspect of college is a huge thing for me. With my sister in college, I knew that I was going to need a job the summer before entering the university. I got a part-time job at ACME. I worked as a cashier for the summer months and spent 94° mornings and afternoons sweating and pushing five carts at a time just for shoppers to take them the second I brought them back.

This task, although Sisyphean, was something that I knew I needed to do in order to have just a little bit of money in college since I have been hearing since my junior year of high school that my sister is a poor college student because she never worked before college.

I have not had a job since the summer, and I am slowly but surely chipping away at my bank account. It is very stressful because this is the time when you realize you need to pay for your own toothpaste and buy your toilet paper because your suitemates think it just shows up out of thin air, and just how much a single cheese pizza can cost.

So, all I can really say about finances is to save money now. You will love yourself for it later when the cafeteria food is less than edible and you need to order a pizza for the third night this week.

Social life in college is often glamorized in movies. It seems as if there are parties around every corner and that college is going to be the time where you find your best friends, but that is not always true. I came into college thinking that there were not going to be any people that I didn't like. Although it's not necessarily true, I have found that it is easier to avoid the people I cannot tolerate.

I am very fortunate to have found a roommate that I can now call a really good friend because I have heard stories from my other friends who have not had that luxury. College is not all parties, drinking, and skipping classes to be cool, although that's what people often think. The social aspect of college is mostly just finding a good group of people that you can surround yourself with and text to go to lunch together or watch the hockey game in the common area with.

Having your own time to be yourself, just relax, and do things you want to do by yourself is also important, but I will get to that later. Also, do not forget about your friends from high school. I have been visited by and have visited my two best friends from high school, and they make me laugh harder than anyone I have met on this entire campus. So include them in your college life, too.

Being physically healthy is tough when you finally live by your own rules and, technically, you can eat pizza for every single meal. Sure, there is a gym that is free (tuition considered), but who has time for that when you have to figure out how to balance all of these other things?

The lack of motivation to be physically fit has been a struggle for me, but I can say that I have, fingers crossed, avoided the dreaded freshman 15. Adapting to a new way of living is tough, so don't stress too much over having the ideal body or being able to run a 6-minute mile if you don't have to; it is just more pressure to put on yourself that you don't need.

Pressure also leads to being sick. I haven't been sick yet (again, fingers crossed), but I know that living in dorms with a bunch of stressed-out teenagers who suddenly have no idea how to keep up with their personal hygiene is the perfect storm for sickness. All I can say is, put the Kleenex packets and Bath and Body Works hand sanitizers that your mom insisted you bring to the dorms to great use.

The intellectual category is basically my category for schoolwork and academics. Of course, the real reason you went to college is to get a higher education and eventually earn a degree, right? This means that, technically, school should come before anything extra, including the social interactions I mentioned earlier.

Your classes cannot always be scheduled around your nap schedule and your eating schedule, as I have learned the hard way, but they are important and you do need to go to them, despite previous opinions. Classes come with exams, homework, and essays, and prioritizing your homework and studying is vital in surviving until the end of the semester. Of course, don't forget to reward yourself with a nap or a trip to the diner down the street after finishing an important task.

Finally, my personal favorite and the most important category is emotional stability. Personally, I went absolutely crazy the first week of college. I had to share a room with a girl I didn't know, I had to wake myself up for class, I really didn't know anyone, and I never had any time just to myself. Having emotional stability as a student is rare, but it is very important because, without it, you really cannot achieve success in any of the categories above.

You will find that you have to carve out time for yourself throughout the week, and that is healthy. Get away from everyone and any distractions, and just be with yourself and relax. With this idea of finding time, make sure you know when you have time available.

I personally use a planner, and it has saved my life. I need to have everything written down with a due date, or else it will completely leave my mind and I would have 0s on every single assignment. This helps with organization, and it makes you believe you have your life together, even if you don't.

I know you are stressed right now. I hope this letter is more informative than horrifying because it is the reality of college, and you really do need to expect the unexpected and be prepared for literally anything, even if you are like me, and you need to know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

College life is full of surprises, and you just have to get on the rollercoaster and pray you don't fall off.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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