Hello future Tars!

First of all, let me congratulate you on making one if the best decisions of your life. I was in your shoes not too long ago (well, a year ago to be exact) and wasn't too sure if I was ready for Rollins. All of my friends were headed off to state schools, and me? I was headed to a college alone? The horror! Yes, the excruciating horror of having a fantastic freshman year and being extremely happy with my new life. When I was in your shoes, I just wanted to skip ahead and see what college was like for a week. Sadly, you will have to wait a whole summer. Now, a few things I wish I had known going in.

1. You will be glad you didn't over pack.

You're not going to need a ton of sweaters at Rollins, and you're not actually going to use a blender. Be realistic. Dorms at Rollins are nice, but they are dorms. Instead of a whole house, you are living in a shared room. So pack like it. Keep it to the essentials, and don't be afraid to send your parents to do a little shopping after you get there. Forget your favorite sweatshirt at home? That's what care packages are for!

2. Spring for a fridge with a separate freezer.

Rollins is home to this magical place called the C-store. It's your new best friend with a freezer of Ben & Jerry's, and it's all on the meal plan! However, nothing is more confusing than a carton of ice cream that is half melted and half freezer burnt. Go for the separate freezer. Keep your ice cream creamy.

3. Counseling is OK.

The Wellness Center is home to this thing called CAPS, which is basically free counseling for all students. CAPS is here for you. You don't need to be having a major life crisis (although they are equipped for that too.) Maybe you're just homesick. Maybe you're overwhelmed by the transition to college. Whatever it is, they will help. So, don't be shy about it. (If you are, then don't worry. They are 100 percent confidential.)

4. ResLife is here for you.

Living with someone else can be a great experience, or it can be a terrible one. I know plenty of people who went random for their roommate and had a wonderful experience. If that's not the case for you, then know that those roommate contracts are real. If your roommate isn't holding up their side of the bargain, then take it to your RA. They signed a contract, and they have to stick to it. You may be great friends, but have totally different room expectations and that is fine. ResLife can hook you up with a new roommate if needed. Everyone at Rollins wants you to succeed, and having a home base you feel comfortable in is part of that.

5. You will survive orientation!

Moving in, saying goodbye to your family and all of those 'activities' can be extremely overwhelming. You won't get a lot of breaks to just chill, which is definitely not introvert friendly. Know that college will not be anything like this.

6. Your peer mentors are amazing!

I had three peer mentors, and they were all amazing. I've asked all three of them for advice at one time or another, and we are all still in touch. They've been where you are. They know campus, and more importantly, they know campus life. They are here for you. Make use of them! Be their best friend! You won't forget it.

7. Rain gear.

Some of the best advice my peer mentor gave me before even getting on campus was to be prepared for precipitation. During the first few months, it's going to rain just about every afternoon. Don't get soaked and ruin all of your textbooks. Invest in rain boots, a rain coat and an umbrella. You will be glad you did. Trust me.

8. Friends will come.

Yeah, I have friends I made the first week. Yeah, I have some I didn't meet until second semester. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself or ask if someone wants to go to dinner. No one really knows anyone the first couple of weeks, so it's actually pretty common. Like someone's T-shirt? Tell them. They might just turn out to be your best friend.

9. Have a great time.

I have been at Rollins for one academic year and...

Levar Burton read me a bedtime story.

I learned how to really write an essay.

I got my very first job doing research on pianos in the physics department.

I met Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.

My professors brought homemade Oreo balls, snicker-doodles and raspberry sorbet to class.

A recipient of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and critiqued my first ever short story.

I had a conversation with Bill Bryson.

Basically, I'm having the time of my life. Making the decision to come to Rollins is your first step towards doing the same. Congratulations!

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

-- Your welcoming, rising sophomore