How can I survive my first year of college?

4 Dos And Don'ts For Adjusting To College Life​

Listen up.

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College is terrifying, at least if you're like me. In all honesty, I probably cried three times between my house and my dorm room. I was scared of moving away from my family, having to create a new routine, and making friends. Additionally, I was scared about all the rumors; freshman fifteen, the partying, everything. My nerves were shot. However, as I settled into my new schedule at school, I discovered that college should not be a nerve-wracking, but rather exciting time.

So, as my first year at university winds down, I decided to share some advice based on my personal experiences as well as some tips based upon what I wish I had done differently.

1. DO join clubs

I was lucky enough to know a decent amount of people from my home town so getting to know people was not my first concern. However, joining clubs early is super important because it helps you build new connections with people who have similar interests. I remember hearing that joining three clubs should be your goal during your first semester at university. Join one that is related to your major (or academics if you're unsure of your major), one that is related to community service and volunteering, and one for personal interest and for fun.

This will not only aid in building relationships, but it will help you professionally further down the road.

2. DON'T seclude yourself

I spent a lot of time in my dorm room first semester, just because that was where all my things from home are. However, I remember about a week in, I forced myself out of my comfort zone so that I could meet new people and not spend all day napping. I know it might be tempting to sleep after all of your classes, but make sure to spend some time outside your room.

3. DO utilize your resources

The gym, the library, the counseling center, and the tutoring center are all resources your tuition pays for. USE THEM!

4. DON'T go home in the first month

I realize that this may not be an issue for people going to school far away from home, but this was especially hard for me. I am extremely close to my family and moving away from them stressed me out. However, doing this helped me to gain independence and be more confident with on my own.

5. DO call your family every now and then

If you're anything like me, you'll call your family on a pretty much daily basis. However, if you're like others, you'll have a lot on your plate and you may forget to call. Check in with your family. They love you and want to hear from you.

6. DON'T overwhelm yourself

College is serious and classes should be your top priority as you are a full time student. However, this is the time where you have the most freedom and the least responsibility. Additionally, grades are not worth sacrificing your mental health over.

7. DO try to find balance

You know yourself and what your brain can handle. Make sure you have balance in your life and that you are taking care of yourself.

8. DON'T be afraid to fail

Failing doesn't have to mean literally failing classes. You might not perform as well as you are used to in classes or you might not get a leadership position in a club that you really wanted. Don't let occurrences like these discourage you. Let them encourage you to do better and serve as a point for growth.

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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An Open Letter To Myself At 15

This is an open letter to myself about things I wish I had known at 15.

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Dear Hailey,

You are so loved. I know times might be hard, but it will all be okay. It's okay to ride the fence and be unsure of what you want to do with your life. You're going to change your mind 10 more times before graduation anyways. Also, don't worry about all of the things that you can't change. You can't make someone fall in love with you or make her treat you like a better friend. It's okay for people not to fit in your life. Stop bending over backward for people and live for yourself. In a few years, you will go through so much, but you come out on the better side. You are going to be successful and driven. Also, learn what the meaning of "self-care" is. You need to do a lot of that in the upcoming years. Mental health is more important than anything. Also, quit cutting your baby hairs. They will never get longer so you need to embrace and love them early on. Figure out what you can change, and what you cannot. Most importantly, accept what you cannot change. When you decide that you are ready to face the things that you can change, do it with your whole heart. That doesn't mean complete perfection. It's important to know the difference. Start by making a plan for the future. Write it down, memorize it, do whatever makes it the easiest for you. Think through your plan logically, take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. Remember to do the hard things first once in a while, the relief is sweet in the end.

You are ready.

You are young.

You are smart.

You are beautiful.

If you ever feel that you are at your lowest point, just remember the only place that you can go is up. Find reassurance in the weakness. The best is yet to come. Don't take pity on yourself. Instead, work harder to make your situation better. Be happy. There are so many things to be thankful for. Ask when you need help. No one can read your mind. Time won't stop for you. Worrying and stressing is simply a waste of time. Be strong and know that you are in God's hands. Everything will work out. It may not be today or tomorrow, but eventually, the pieces will fall into place and you will understand why things had to happen that way.

Love,

Me

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