Hi there! Yes, you :)
I hope you're excited, apprehensive, uncertain, ecstatic, whatever emotion you may be feeling, because you have every right to. We've all been in your shoes and hopefully, this list of things I wish I knew as a freshmen helps you out:
Adjusting takes time: the transition from high school to college is a culture shock to most, and that’s perfectly okay.
Health first, academics second. Without it, being an efficient student or just a happy, functional person in general is very difficult. Be kind to yourself: eat enough, be active in some way, and sleep enough. Of course, there will be nights that are exceptions, but try to catch up in some way. Burnouts occur and it hits the sleep-deprived the hardest. Find a lifestyle that works for you and your schedule. Everyone has different habits and it takes trial and error to find what works for you personally.
Call, text, FaceTime your parents once in a while. Every week, or every other week, is always nice. As much as possible is even better. You leaving for college is very likely a huge emotional, financial, lifestyle burden on them, and they have made sacrifices for you to be on this campus. While you are possibly having the time of your life at college, they’re probably finding ways to cope with the suddenly gaping hole of where your 18 years of presence used to be. Also keep in touch with your friends back at home.
College causes an influx of conflicting emotions; always keep your mental health in check. If something is off, try to pinpoint exactly what it is. Talk to people you trust and don’t be afraid to seek help.
Look out for each other at parties. Educate yourself about alcohol and all potential dangers related to college social life. Take care of people regardless of whether you know them or not. It’s better to ask rather than regret and wish you had helped them earlier.
View everything as a learning opportunity; instead of dwelling on a poor test grade, use it as motivation to work harder and improve on the next one.
Remember, you are not defined by a letter, number, or anything superficial. You define yourself, not anyone or anything else.
Make time for yourself. In college, we are constantly surrounded by people and it can get overwhelming at times. These next four years are going to be a series of rapid change and it’s important to get to know yourself during the process.
You are here to learn, to expand your knowledge, gain new perspectives, create connections between various disciplinaries. Ask questions, take advantage of every resource on campus (RPMs, PLTLs, and other academic programs). Everyone here is so willing to help you. Go to resource fairs, career centers, etc. to learn about all the opportunities ahead of you.
The best conversations happen after midnight. Trust me on this. Some of my best memories were made just by talking to people at 3, 4 am.
Connections create more connections. I can’t count the number of times that mutual friends have become some of my closest companions. Don’t be afraid to be the one who reaches out; “Hey, aren’t you so-and-so’s friend? I thought you looked familiar!” is such an easy conversation starter. Reach out to other people because you never know who’ll become your next study buddy or newest best friend.
Believe in yourself. There’s a reason you got into the university you’re in. As difficult as it is to believe at times, you have a place here.
I hope college becomes your second home, just like it has for me :)
A Slightly-Experienced Sophomore.