Freshman year of college, the pinnacle moment of self-expression, discovery, and ultimate panic because reality tends to shy away from the depths in which it has been lurking. In all reality though, freshman year is such a wonderful time to begin ones growth and development into the hard-working (hopefully) professional (maybe not) that college untimely grooms us to be. After just completing my freshman year, these lessons still resonate with me, and although they may seem stereotypical or arbitrary, you may just find similarities within your own experiences:
1. Friends come and go, get used to it
This is a sad truth, but it is also one of the most apparent realities one must face within the first few months (if life takes its natural course) or the first few years (if you're very lucky). People are bound to grow apart and that is perfectly okay, the most important thing you can do for someone who grows away from you is respect and cherish the time you had together and frankly move the heck on with your life. On the other hand, I do realize that some people do go off to college with their ENTIRE friend group, but that just isn't the norm in a lot of cases.
2. Step out of your comfort zone
College is one giant leap out of your comfort zone so you better beat the chase to it. This can come in many forms: getting involved (see #5), meeting 5 new people a day by abrasively throwing yourself at them (what I did, works 9/10), buying a coffee for the person behind you in Starbucks, or by simply in introducing yourself to the professor after class on the first day. You will be amazed how much pure professor/student communication will help you in the long run. In more blatant words though, you will be pushed out of your comfort zone in all aspects of college and that's the only way to grow as an intellectual, so get used to it.
3. Limit yourself
This one seems a bit crazy because college is supposed to be the time to take over the world, but believe me when I say that if you don't limit yourself, you will be miserable. High school was awesome for being in 23 clubs, playing three sports while your mom ruled the PTSA like Mussolini. In the grand scheme of education though, extracurriculars in high school should have served as the Pu Pu Platter of engagement for lack-of-better words.
By saying that I mean that you should have gotten a taste of what you loved in high school and used that foundation to expand on what takes precedence in college. Yes, there will be way more options but that gives you all the more opportunity to be picky about what you're going to be involved in. One thing to warn against is being a freshman who started a club, is pledging a fraternity, on the Model UN competition team, while taking 18-hours. Boy...that life sounds rough *wink* *wink*
4. It’s okay to change your major because passions and interests change
This really is one all college students should take into account, but, to my shock, it became prevalent in my life this past year. Like the wind, our opinions about life are going to change 100,000 times over the next four-ish years, so expect your desire to learn certain things to change as well.
5. Get involved
You will figure this out early in your college career, but there are SO many things to get involved in. Whether it's Greek Life, Academic Clubs, Social Clubs, or Campus Ministries - the options are endless. Use these programs as a place for you to make friends, network, and also build your resume. Outside of joinings clubs and what not, going to events like guest speakers and sporting events will also help you get connected with the school community.
6. Be real
Starting to be unapologetically yourself in college will be a crucial step for living the most authentic and purposeful life you can. It's no doubt that your college friends will probably become some of your closest adulthood friends as well, I mean, you live with them. If that is true, don't you want them to be in your life to build you up? The answer should always be yes. This comes as a direct result of being you and expressing your interests and thoughts whenever you can.
7. Enjoy college, but don’t forget the true goal of being in school
College is REALLY fun, like more fun than you expect. Whether it's the nights out or the "endless" freedom, you're going to have some of the best times of your life. That being said, college isn't a time to screw around. They all say that "C's get degrees" and although that is true, C's also get you a 2.0, which ain't so hot. Be reasonable and remember the value of your education.
8. High school is over, realize that, please
Although it is really really really cool to brag about your high school days *rolls eyes*, it also can become quite annoying to people when the name of your high school is inserted into every conversation. Yes, I am extremely guilty for this one and I'm not afraid to admit that, but know that it's time to move on. I'm not saying forget the memories and lessons learned within the hallowed halls of your upper educational institution, but realize that your obsession needs to shift to a distant admiration and respect for the lessons that you learned there. At the end of the day, you may have just been a name on a roster anyways.
9. Trusting that there’s a plan much bigger than your own
As a faithful person, I constantly realize that my earthly plan is so juvenile compared to that of what has been planned for me, but it's hard to remember at times. Freshman year was hard. All the temptations of the parties and whatnot can do a real damper on the life of a Christian guy, but learning to look past that temptation is the challenge that is worth the end result. I finished high school with a frankly hopeless disposition.
Preparing to enter a university that was far from my first choice, and kind of lost in terms of what my future held in store for me. Little did I know what this past year would be in terms of my personal growth. Not only did I grow exponentially, but now I have found my place within a group of friends like I have never had before. Yeah, God's pretty cool.