Dear incoming freshman,
Congratulations! You survived high school and finally are about to experience (hopefully) the best time of your entire life. If you are reading this, you are one of two types of people: you loved high school and are excited yet sad to leave all of your friends, or you are like me and hated high school and could not wait to leave and start fresh. No matter which one of these you are, you are going to be in for the time of your life, as long as you enjoy it. College is what you make of it, and this involves stepping out of your comfort zone at times. This is your last chance to truly take risks before you step into... *dun dun dun* "the real world." There are so many things that I wish someone had told me when I entered college, but luckily I came up with a few warnings so you do not feel completely out of the loop.
1. You are going to feel homesick, even if you swear you won't.
Like I said, I was one of those people who hated high school. I practically jumped for joy as I was exiting the graduation ceremony, and I did not stay after to tearfully hug all of my friends good-bye. I spent the summer counting down the exact days until move-in, and I would feel a rush of excitement each time I purchased an item for my room. When the calendar finally hit August, I screamed as I began to pack.
I continued to feel excitement all throughout move-in day. I did not cry as I hugged my parents good-bye like most people did. (Don't get me wrong, I love my parents and I knew I was going to miss them, but I was just so excited to begin the new journey of my life that I was not thinking about how much I was going to miss them at that moment.)
It was not until that first night that I felt homesick. It finally hit me once I texted my mom saying good-night, rather than giving her a usual hug before I went to bed. I met my friend for lunch the next day, and I was barely able to eat because of how nervous I felt. As excited as I was to begin this new chapter, it was such a huge adjustment to go from living with my parents to being on my own. Once classes began and I was on a schedule, I was no longer homesick and I made my college town my new home.
2. Fraternities and sororities are heavily stereotyped.
There are two different types of viewpoints on Greek life upon entering college: either they are awesome ways to make friends, or they are groups of jerks that pay for their friends. I was the type of person who was totally against fraternities and sororities - I thought they were horrible people who were conceited and rude to outsiders. When my best friend told me that she was going though recruitment, I cringed and knew that our friendship was coming to an end. I was then introduced to a few guys in a fraternity, who ended up being really nice and they were not self-centered at all. And after my best friend joined a sorority, guess what? I met some of her sisters and they were normal just like me and they cared about their grades. Also, my best friend and I are still best friends, despite her being in a sorority! Even though I am not involved in Greek life, most of my friends are, and it makes no impact on our friendship whatsoever. Please keep an open mind when meeting Greek life; you can make lasting friendships. I honestly would have joined my freshman year if I knew how amazing of an experience it would be. I recommend at least going through some of recruitment to see if it would be a good fit for you or not. They are not for everyone, but despite your original opinions, you could change your mind.
3. Step out of your comfort zone.
This is the absolute, most important thing to remember when entering college. If you are not one to approach people, take a deep breath and do it. Every time I enter a class for the first time, I scan the room and pick a seat next to someone who appears to be a good candidate for a friend. I then say something to break the tension like, "I heard this professor is really cool! Have you ever had them before?" I will be completely honest, sometimes you will choose people that do not want to be bothered with meeting new people, but I have also made several lasting friendships by doing this. I even met a German exchange student with this trick, and we became best friends and continue to keep in touch, even though she is back in Germany now.
Also, it is important to try new things, because this is the one point in your life that is meant for well, living and exploring (when you are not studying, of course). I am terrified of heights, yet I stepped out of my comfort zone and went indoor rock climbing. It took me some encouragement from my friends, but I made it all the way to the top. Many universities offer weekly events and opportunities, and it is important to be as involved as possible. You may look back one day and regret not being more involved.
4. Popularity isn't a thing.
In high school, I was always so concerned of what people thought of me. If any of my "popular" friends saw me talking to a "loser," then they would ask me why if I was friends with them and if I realized how weird they were. I would often find my personality changing depending who was around. If I was talking to a "loser" when no one was around, I would chat away with them. If any of my "popular" friends were around, I would immediately act like I wasn't friends with them. I wouldn't be rude to them, but I tried to avoid talking to them so that way I would not be judged. (If anyone that I did this to is reading this, just know that I completely realize that what I did is wrong and I am so sorry. You have all the permission in the world to hate me forever, although it would be awesome if you found it in your heart to forgive me.)
College is so different, thankfully. There are a few snobs who try to be popular and create a name for themselves, but they get ignored. You can finally be the person that you have always wanted to be, and you are in this magical safety net of no judgement. I was afraid of becoming friends with girls in a sorority, because I was terrified that they would judge me for not owning a single stitch of Lily Pulitzer or for preferring Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks. I am definitely least "preppy" out of my group of friends, but they never take that into consideration. We are friends because we have similar personalities and get along. There are thousands of people in college; you will find people who like you for you. Be free, and do not try to mold yourself to fit other peoples' standards.
5. Make sure to put your studies first.
Do not be one of those people that ends the first semester with a 0.0 GPA. It is important to use your free time to explore as much as possible, but do not forget why you came to college in the first place. Keep a calendar or agenda with due dates, because you will feel overwhelmed if you procrastinate. In my two years of college, I never had to pull an all-nighter, but that is because I would always put my schoolwork before my free time. I also find myself paying more attention if I sit in the front of the class rather than the back, because I feel like since I am noticed up front, I need to stay on my best behavior.
With this being said, also know that college is not, and I repeat, not as easy as high school. You do not receive points for simply completing your homework (you will actually get asked to leave the class if you did not do your homework), and some classes only have four exams as the final grade. So basically, if you want an A in the class, you need to get an A on every single exam. I am not saying this to scare you, but I am letting you know that if you were a straight A student in high school like I was, you will be extremely disappointed when you see a B factored into your GPA. Just know that what is important is that you are trying your best, and not to let a bad grade ruin your life.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that college is what you make it out to be. If you lock yourself in your room and refuse to socialize, you will have a bad time. If you put yourself out there, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first, you will have an amazing time. Please enjoy these next four years of your life and make the most of your transition into adulthood.