Being a freshman is challenging and intimidating, especially if you're living far from home or attending a university where you don't know anyone. To all new and rising freshman reading this, here's a few pieces of advice and things I wish I would've been privy to back when I was in your shoes.
1. There's not as much pressure as you think to "fit in" or join a certain social scene.
All that high school bs about "fitting in" pretty much dissipates in college – despite what you might have been told. Do you feel "pressured" by your high school friends to join a sorority or hang out with the football team as you go away to college? Honestly, it doesn't matter. Everyone does their own thing, and no one is required to fit a certain mold or specifically hang out with certain people. If anything, college is the perfect place to find yourself and explore all sorts of social scenes and hang out with as many people as you want.
The prejudices that once existed in the confined hallways of high school everyday life are gone. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise has simply and purposefully stuck themselves in a vicious cycle of high school-like cliques and drama. College shouldn't be the place for that.
2. Having self-control and exerting self-discipline is important.
Everyone wants to encourage you by telling you that you're gonna have the time of your life and that everything is going to fall into place. And to the few people who give you words of realistic advice, you've probably blown them off. But the matter-of-the-fact is this: you're going to have a hard time leading a successful life away from home if you don't enforce some rules on yourself.
When mom and dad aren't there to check in on you, things can go awry. No one is sending you to bed anymore, so maybe you're pulling all-nighters or getting little-to-no sleep. No one knows what you're doing, so maybe that means you're partying too hard and not spending enough time on your academics, or skipping all of your classes to stay in and make up for lost sleep. Maybe no one is encouraging you to exercise or eat healthy, and now the freshman fifteen are old news – you're now making way for the freshman forty.
When you're living on your own, you need to be the one keeping an eye on yourself because no one else will. Sometimes, letting your grades slip or engaging in unhealthy partying, sleeping, and eating habits can bare consequences greater than what you imagined.
3. You might come to realize that you need to transfer.
The summer I graduated from high school, I saw endless Insta captions and Facebook posts saying "Here's to the next four!" or
"Can't wait to go away to _______ college/university!" As early as the second semester of freshman year, I'd already seen countless people transfer from a college halfway across the country to one back home and vice versa. The thought of transferring may seem unthinkable to you if you're at your #1 choice, but regardless, transferring is pretty normal and students choose to leave the university they started at for many different reasons.
4. Partying isn't all it's cracked up to be.
When I went away to college, I thought partying and having fun was everything. Now, I've come to realize that academics and thriving not only come first, but they are much more gratifying than nights of endless partying and binge-drinking. Weekends are ideal to have fun, and if you're keeping yourself in check there's no reason as to why you can't balance partying and academics – you just need to have your priorities right.
A lot of freshmen go into college prioritizing partying – but take it from me, it's not all it's cracked up to be. Make sure you have a good balance and a good prioritization of what you truly want to get from college and what the "college experience" means to you.
5. It only gets harder.
I think out of love, most of the time the people around us tell us that college is going to be a breeze because we're "smart." However, it only gets harder. The further you get into your career and your major, the more demanding and higher-level your classes, professors, and activities are going to be. That's why if there's one last word of advice for rising freshman, it's to keep up your grades and make sure you're investing your time properly and prioritizing the right things. If you don't, it'll only get harder than it's already inherently supposed to be.