To my incoming college freshman friends,
Welcome. Welcome to the big bad world of college. Oh no, don’t be frightened just yet. It’s not as scary as the rest of us make it seem. Granted, you may get the “we’re all mad here” look from numerous people, but that is perfectly normal. After all, it is the truth. College is a mad world.
For starters, you can throw whatever normal sleeping pattern you had out the window. There is no such fantasy here. Sleeping is no longer a priority in your life. Your classes, assignments, and impeding exams are Number One. On the topic of priorities, college will teach you what they mean unlike anything ever has. You will soon find that there are simply not enough hours in the day to do assignments AND study AND socialize AND find time for your family AND do various activities AND sleep AND eat AND find time for yourself. You’ll realize that something has to give.
Now, I don’t want you to be worried. You’ll figure it out. In fact, you’ll figure a lot of things out in your first year of college, maybe more than you have in a while. I don’t mean textbook stuff, either (sure, you’ll have plenty of that to sort through and it’ll keep you more than busy). I’m talking about the real world. That’s right. You’ll learn more than you even knew possible about the ins and outs, quirks and downfalls of this “adult world” you have yet to experience. Regardless of your personal conditions, you will learn. It’ll all come in a massive whirlwind of experiences and a rush of realizations so quick and intense that you won’t even notice how much you’re learning until you look back on it.
It may be true that I am only a sophomore, but I feel this gives me more credibility since I have just completed what you are now going through. So here is some of my advice for you all in this weird transitional phase of your life.
To those of you dorming, it’ll be vastly different to be on your own and away from home. To those of you commuting, my heart truly goes out to you. Whether it be driving (been there, done that) or taking trains, buses, subways, and the like (currently at it), you’ll be exposed to situations you have never been in before. All of you should keep your eyes and minds open and you’ll slip through just fine. It’s the first week or two that are somewhat terrifying and then it all becomes second nature.
Always, always, keep track of your ultimate goals and priorities and don’t let laziness or discouragement get in the way of those. I know that sometimes it’s unbearable, but you have to remember why you decided to attend college in the first place and constantly work toward your goal, even when it’s difficult to see. You can party and go out all you want when you are rich and successful and have a stable job. Right now, that online chemistry homework should get done.
My friends, the pre-med students, I know it’s a tough walk, but hey, you chose this path for yourselves. I can assure you that from this moment onward, it will never get easier. Challenging courses, volunteering, shadowing, research, the MCAT, and endless efforts await you. If you are truly attached to the medical field, if your soul has truly latched onto it with the passion and ferocity that should exist in the heart of every physician, then the difficulty will be worth it to you in the end. If, on the other hand, you feel torn in this decision, these next few years will make it clear to you whether or not it is something you desire.
The above can be generalized to all of you. Keep a fire burning in your heart for whatever it is you desire to do with your life. That fire will motivate you and keep you going when all you want to do is fall to your knees and give up. Push through, and know that you are working for much better times. In the end, the rewards you reap will be a direct product of whatever you sow today. If you are still finding where your fire comes from, no worries. You have time. Keep searching diligently and you’ll come across it soon enough.
I know it seems bleak, but college is actually a really fun time. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. There is a newfound sense of freedom that comes with college and boy, is it liberating. Just don’t let it go to your head. Be logical in your decisions and understand that you truly are on your own now. Consequences are very real in this realm, so be careful and act accordingly.
No one will judge you here. Long gone are the strange looks and judgmental stares of your peers. There is something magical about college in that everyone understands on a personal level what others are experiencing, and even if they don’t, they know you’re working for your education just like they are, and in order to get there all sorts of strange things need to be done. So no worries if you feel self-conscious about something, because nobody else really notices or cares if your breakfast that day is a bag of microwavable popcorn eaten in the front row of your biology 8AM lecture. You’re fine because we’ve all done stranger things.
There are so many more things I could say here, but you will all find out in due time. At first college may be new, frustrating, and intimidating, but all of you should take it in stride and refuse to be swept off your feet. I know it’ll be hard, but I also know that you can do it. You’ve done plenty like this before. You have climbed mountains and traversed great plains to get to where you are now. So take a deep breath. Soak it all in. This is the next chapter of your life, a blank slate ready to comply to your wishes. Pick up the pen and begin writing. After all, this is YOUR story, and you are free to write it in whatever way you so desire. Push the boundaries and refuse to settle for less than your best. Write for yourselves great successes and achievements. I cannot wait to read all the tales of your fantastic journeys in this new realm.