In August 2018, I began my first semester of college. Four months later, I went home for winter break and reflected on everything I've learned, both in and out of the classroom. There's so much that I wish my older cousins would have told me before I started, so I'm sharing bits of my knowledge with you.
1. It is 100% okay to withdraw from a class.
I'm starting this article off with a big one that many freshmen may find shocking, but it is true. I was in a history class where 98% of our grade was comprised of three tests and two papers. That was it. Oh, and the tests were all exam-based, which I had never taken before college. To say the least, I had an F the whole time and knew there was no way I could bring my grade up to passing. I talked to my dean and academic advisor, and they told me I could withdraw from the class as long as it wasn't a recurring theme. The main point is that if you know you are unable to pass a class, and it is not required, do not be afraid to withdraw as long as you do not withdraw from too many.
2. Frat parties are overrated.
I remember going to my first frat (fraternity) party during orientation week, and I hated it. The buildings were too crowded, the streets were littered with beer cans and solo cups, and the boys were downright rude. My friends and I decided to go to other frats in the weeks following to see if they were any better, but the only plus was good music. Since October, we have just stayed inside on the weekends playing games and chilling, and that is much more fun than the "college parties" you see in the movies.
3. The "freshmen fifteen" is real, but hits everyone differently.
In high school, everyone told me that I was going to gain so much weight my first year of college and have to buy new clothes. They were right, but not in the way they thought. I am still skinny and wear the same t-shirts I did then, but my bottom half has grown three pant sizes since September (i.e.-my thighs and my butt). My one friend earned her freshmen fifteen in muscles, making her sweatshirts too tight. Some of my other friends have gained weight in their stomachs like the myth goes. The freshmen fifteen is real, but do not be afraid. You will still look amazing no matter what.
4. No one cares about what you wear.
During my first week of classes, I worn jean shorts, sweatpants, a skirt, and pajamas. I was expected to be judged and looked at, but only a handful of people looked at me weird and no one made any comments. Throughout the semester, I wore a variety of outfits ranging from super nice to super lazy, and not one person or professor said anything. Everyone in college is there for basically the same thing (hello degree), and as long as your outfit does not cause harm to them, they do not care. Same with the professors. Wear whatever you want.
5. Be prepared to make plans with no advance notice.
There have been numerous times where my roommate or friends have showed up to my room and said "get your shoes on, we're leaving" with no warning. Did I argue? Of course not, because impromptu plans are the best plans. 2 a.m. Sheetz runs, walking across campus and back just to rant, and playing board games then stopping when we get bored are some of the best memories I have so far in college. Unless you are in the middle of something super duper important, never say no to last-minute plans. I promise you will not regret it.
6. A majority of people over-pack their first semester, and that's okay.
On move in day, I brought about seven totes full of clothes, shoes, toiletries, bedding, decorations, first aid supplies, school supplies, and a ton of extra things along with me and managed to fit everything on my side of the dorm room. Flash forward to winter break, and I brought two totes worth of stuff home that I never used once. My advice to try and avoid over-packing is to focus more on clothing and school stuff instead of first aid supplies and decorations.
7. Remember to call your family and loved ones.
My grandmother is one of the most important people in my life, and while not being able to see her everyday wasn't that hard of an adjustment, I still missed talking to her about the drama at school or what my friends thought of my new shirt. I made sure to talk to her at least once every other day and sometimes more often than that. Talking to someone that you love and don't get to see much will not only brighten your day, but can also help destress you and allows you to catch up on the gossip at home.
8. Keep up with your resume (or start one if you haven't).www.youtube.com
Nowadays, most high schools will have a class that requires their students to create a resume that they can use and add on to when necessary. I created mine sophomore year for a club and have kept it up to date from then until now. Having a resume on hand when you begin college will not only make it easier when applying for jobs (just update it and print), but can help you with other classes when you need to write about personal experiences and can't remember much. Anytime you join a new club, receive a reward, or start a new job, just add it to your resume and you're good to go!
9. You're going to get so much free stuff and attend a ton of events!
During orientation week, I received 3 t-shirts, a blanket, a ton of food, and more. Throughout the semester, I have gotten so much more stuff that I could probably fill an entire dresser drawer! Your university's program board (the students that plan activities for all the students) will also hold a bunch of events where you can make things or play games to earn prizes. Attend these events! I cannot stress this enough. You will make a bunch of friends and fun memories that you will treasure (and get some fun prizes).
10. Do not go into college with any expectations.
I was in a college-preparatory program in high school, so I started at Ship with a clear set of expectations and an understanding of what college was supposed to be like. It was nothing like I expected it to be (in a good way). However, my experience was different than my roommates which was different than out neighbors, which was different than our friends. Bottom line is that every college student is going to have a different experience, and that is the beauty of college. Don't expect to be invited to every party or to pass every class easily. There are going to be plenty of twists and turns, and they will all turn our great in the end.
There is a ton more things I could list, but these ten sum it all up. College is going to be amazing, and I can say that with only one semester under my belt. I wish every student starting in the spring best of luck, and to every other prospective student, get excited, because college is one wild ride!