Freshman year of college is a crazy time in your life. Upon entering campus on the first day of school, just know that some of the absolute best (and, unfortunately worst) experiences of your life have likely yet to come. It is quite possibly your first ever year spent entirely away from home... so naturally, it is going to take some time to adjust. Don't worry, though, you will... it just takes some time. There are plenty of things I learned this year, but as a reflection I will share ten that meant the most to me and will follow me through the rest of my college career and life. No matter how big or small, there are lessons to be learned at every corner.
It is okay, and healthy, to spend time alone sometimes.
This was a lesson that I learned, specifically, my first semester. Throughout high school, I always had the comfort of a friend group (many of whom I had been friends with since middle school or before), so I was not used to spending much time alone. Specifically, the summer after my senior year, I spent nearly every waking moment with my friends and people in my town. Spending large amounts of time alone or without plans was something I was not used to. I felt really lonely at first when I had not found a group of people that I clicked with right away, and it was somewhat of a rude awakening when I realized that I was going to have to start learning how to keep myself company. Once I got more comfortable with going to the library on my own, and doing things without a friend by my side at all times, I found myself becoming a lot more independent with each day.
It is absolutely necessary to clean your room as often as possible.
I always thought of myself to be a pretty organized girl, but when I got to college I had to become even more organized. When you move in on the first day of school your dorm will look like a tiny white cinder block jail cell... and once you fill it with stuff, though it will look a lot more homey, it will likely be extremely stuffy and crammed full of stuff. If you don't put your stuff away as much as possible, or wipe down surfaces in your room, you will barely be able to walk. Free stuff at so many different events and school supplies/books will fill up your room faster than you think. I learned very quickly that if this was going to work, I needed to be as neat as possible.
The library will be your best friend.
When I did homework in high school, it was always at my kitchen counter or at the desk in my room. I never thought I would have utilized a library as much as I did this year. Going to the library for hours at a time quickly became a part of my daily routine first semester... and it paid off. I got grades I was extremely proud of and set me up for success and on track to apply into my major. Your dorm will likely be full of distractions, so finding a spot that you can focus extremely well, and dedicating certain amounts of time each day to your homework and study habits will be crucial for success in college.
Time management, time management, time management!
This one I am still working on. It is kind of self-explanatory... making sure you are balancing self-care, academics, and a social life is essential. This was something I became more familiar with second semester when I got a lot busier. Using my Google Calendar for everything, as well as my planner, kept me sane. I learned the importance of scheduling and being timely to meetings, classes, social events, while also fitting in the necessary time for school work.
How to care for myself when I am sick.
I got sick a LOT this past year... so I got used to caring for myself pretty quickly. Scheduling doctors appointments was something I could always rely on my mom for, as well as checking my symptoms and helping me figure out what I can do to feel better. I could always count on my family to make me food and watch TV with me if I could not get out of bed. I am not going to lie, it was hard for me to learn how to properly care for myself without someone constantly at hand to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. I am a lot more aware of how to recognize what is wrong and properly address it without freaking out.
Who my best of friends really are.
The summer before college, I spent a lot of time with a lot of people. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to stick around once high school ends. The people who are available to talk when you are upset, update you on life with the occasional (or not-so-occasional) FaceTime call, and plan visits to come visit you and plans when you get home are the ones who are worth keeping around. As for the others... you will see them from time to time, but they likely are not the best of friends to rely on after high school.
Take advantage of all the things my school has to offer.
Going to the writing center, attending tutoring sessions, using the library website, attending office hours, lectures and presentations... all things that are here to help you. Joining a sorority allowed me to go to a ton of events on campus and meet a bunch of new people. Exploring different buildings to find good study spots, or joining different clubs and honor societies will keep you in the loop with what is going on with school. I learned to take advantage of all of these things.
How to commute/travel alone.
Living in CT, my main means for transportation to and from school is the Amtrak. The idea of booking my own trains and traveling through four states just to go home was daunting at first, but I got really good at it. Learning the best way to use Ubers, as well as how to ride the metro to DC became second nature. This is a super important skill to have, and I do not think I would have learned it if I did not go to school out of state.
The value of learning is more important than your major.
Actually reading the required readings and getting myself interested in the classes I was taking made me feel more intelligent. Skimming through a class by barely doing the minimum will likely not get you the grade you want, and won't make you any smarter. Taking classes that interest you that are outside of you major may interest you and teach you things that you will carry with you each day.
How to prepare for the professional world.
As an aspiring business major, I spent a lot of time learning about how to be more professional in my different classes. Along with this, I interviewed for a club as well as a job (which I got!) and became much more familiar with how to properly interview. I also learned that my resume going into college was TERRIBLE, and made one that I am very confident in. Learning how to properly address professors in emails and communicate with people of different positions became something I did a lot and feel a lot more confident about now.