Well, it’s finally here: college, the experience that some of you have spent your entire lives waiting for. You’re on your own for the first time, able to make your own choices about nearly everything. Some of you are on the opposite coast, and some of you are less than an hour away from home. Either way, your freshman year is full of brand-new experiences, and while you might have been like me as a freshman and devoured every “how-to” about surviving your freshman year, I, a wise and all-knowing junior (LOL, who am I kidding?) have some tips to make your freshman year easier, but still a blast.
1.Don’t be afraid to be homesick
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Just don’t let it control your life. It’s natural to miss your family, your friends, your pets, your bedroom, or your old town. I even missed small things like my favorite coffee shop. The problem that can occur with homesickness is that if you aren’t careful, it can consume your life. I spent most of my first year of college crying my eyes out because I missed my parents so much, and I went home more weekends than I think I should have. Everyone is different, but I know for sure that keeping busy is a way to prevent homesickness. If you’re too busy having fun, you won’t be thinking about what you’re missing.
2. FOMO is real
Embrace it. Sometimes it’s good to go out. Your years in college are some of the few years where it is perfectly acceptable to go out multiple nights in a row and sleep part of the day away. More often than not, I had the most fun on nights where I wasn’t even planning on going out. However, don’t let the fear of missing out overrule important things, like sleep or studies. If you’re someone like me, spending a night in every once in a while is better than going out all the time. Take the time to relax, too.
3. Don’t skip class
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Literally everyone says this, but I do mean it. Don’t skip class, even if it’s boring, or totally easy. You never know what you might miss. That being said, the trick is to know yourself. If you’re on the verge of a breakdown (which will happen, don’t kid yourself), have a really hard midterm that you need to study for, or just need to sleep, by all means, skip the class. I skipped class a few times to go home early. Just don’t make a habit out of it. Skipping one class won’t kill you, but skipping multiple, particularly if it’s a hard class or a class for your major, isn’t a good idea.
4. College is hard
I’m talking about the academics here. I went to a pretty intense school, and I scoffed when I was warned that college was a lot harder than high school. I could totally get at least a 3.0, no problem. Um. College requires work. You’re only in school for a couple hours a day, because you’re studying so much more than in high school. Even if you’re one of the lucky brainacs who didn’t need to study in high school, you’re going to have to study now. It might not even be one of your major classes that gives you the most trouble--I’m a history major, and GE statistics almost killed me. Realize that college is hard to get into, because it’s hard work!
5. Do things you normally wouldn’t
Within reason, obviously. NEVER, ever, do something that puts you or others at a risk, or something that makes you intensely uncomfortable. College is a time for figuring out who you are and exploring new interests. Sign up for everything that catches your eye. For instance, Cal Poly has a surf team, an off-roading club, a writer’s club, and even a young veterinarians’ club. As a freshman, I signed up for everything, but by the end of the year I had narrowed my activities down to what I really wanted to do. Doing things that you usually wouldn’t is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people!
6. SAY HELLO
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College can be a big, scary place. You might be at a school where you know a lot of people, and you might be at a school where you know absolutely no people. It can seem terrifying at first, but you know an easy fix for that? Talk to people! Sitting alone in the dining hall? Say hi and ask if you can sit with someone! Trust me, odds are they won’t say no. Everyone is just as eager to make friends as you are. Freshman year is the best time to make friends, because everyone is just as new as you are. Say hi to your dorm mates the first few days of school. Chat to people in your classes. You’re in a brand-new place with a brand-new rep. Really, what do you have to lose?
7. Plan for the future
When I say plan for the future, I don’t mean the abstract future where you and your spouse have 2.5 kids, 2 cars, and a dog. I mean your immediate future. Don’t post dumb pictures of you and your friends on Facebook or Instagram with red solo cups if you’re under 21, even if they have soda or water in them. Don’t even Snapchat it--those can be screen-shotted and sent to others, as we know all too well. Nowadays, future employers can find almost anything. Don’t do something dumb like yelling profanities at cops, because they can and will catch you. Take your RA’s seriously--I know kids that got kicked out of the dorms our first month of college. Good luck finding housing after the school year’s already started! Have fun, but don’t think that just because you’re in college that everything is one big party and there aren’t consequences.
8. HAVE FUN!!
For God’s sake, you’re only a freshman once. Live it up!