To The Unsure Future Freshman As You Tour Your Prospective Colleges, Know This

To The Unsure Future Freshman As You Tour Your Prospective Colleges, Know This

I assure you that freshman year will be everything you expected and also completely unexpected at the same time.
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I see you almost every day, walking by, following closely behind your tour guide, looking around wide-eyed, closely followed by your parents who look so nervous, careful jotting down every word that the tour guide says. I always smile to myself because just a year ago, I was standing exactly where you are and I just wanted to tell you it is all going to be OK.

Actually, it’s all going to be better than OK.

No matter what school you end up at, college is about to be the biggest, most exciting step of your life. You’ll be here before you know it. As hard as it may seem to picture right now, soon enough you will be another student passing tour groups like yours on your way to class.

Coming from someone who read just about every college prep book and nearly every article about going to college for the first time, there’s really nothing you can do to truly prepare yourself for this next step. Follow your heart when choosing what school to go to, and feel confident about your decision. Whether you loved or hated high school, I promise, this is your chance to start over.

Whether you are going in state or a million miles away from home, this is your fresh start.

Go into every situation with an open mind and a willingness to not have complete control over every situation. College is a huge change in your life, and not everything will go as planned. That’s okay though, take each step as a learning opportunity and try to look at the big picture, because once you are done with first semester, you will realize that some of your biggest mistakes are your best stories.

Put yourself out there. Get a random roommate, choose a major you love, join a random club, take an interesting class. Have fun, go up to a stranger, go out on a Wednesday, put off doing laundry, pull an all-nighter at the library, order cheesy bread at 3 a.m. Don’t just stick by the people you already know. It’s all part of the “freshman experience.”

If you aren’t uncomfortable at times, then you are doing college wrong. Being uncomfortable is all a part of growing up.

I might be a little biased, but I think Indiana University is the best school in the country, however no matter where you end up, I assure you that freshman year will be everything you expected and also completely unexpected at the same time. You will experience the best of times and the worst of times.

But, no matter what, with time you’ll slowly realize you are becoming the person you are meant to be. In some crazy way, all the late nights, dorm-room hangouts, failed classes, random clubs, laundry mishaps, amazing successes and tough rejection you faced freshman year somehow start shaping you into the person you will be at the end of these wild four years called college.

And that is something to look forward to.

Sincerely,

A second semester college freshman

Cover Image Credit: Julianna Merry

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To All Incoming Freshmen, When You Get To College, Please Don't Be THAT Freshman

I am pretty sure we all know who I'm talking about.

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As we are all counting down the days to return to campus, students are looking forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. And then, there is the freshman.

We have all been there. The eagerness and excitement have been slowly building up through months of summer vacation, all waiting for this moment. I understand the anxiousness, enthusiasm, and insecurities. The opportunity to meet new people and explore a new area is very intriguing. But let's be real, you are here to make memories and get an education. So here are a few pieces of advice from a former college freshman.

1. Don't be that freshman who follows their significant other to college

This is the boy or girl who simply can not think for themselves. The 17-year-old puts their own personal goals and interests aside to sacrifice for a six-month high school relationship. This will more than likely end at an end of semester transfer after the relationship has been tested for a month or two in college life. So if you want to really enjoy your freshman year, make your own decisions and do what is best for you.

2. Don't be that freshman who lets their parents pick their major

"You are not going to school just to waste my money."

This is a statement you might have heard from your parents. As true as it might seem, this is definitely not a good way to start your college years. If you are not majoring in something you can see yourself doing, you are wasting your time. You can major in biology, go to medical school, and make the best grades. But if deep down you don't want to be a doctor, you will NOT end up being a good doctor. When it comes to picking your major, you really have to follow your heart.

3. Don't be that freshman who gets overwhelmed with the first taste of freedom

Yes. It is all very exciting. You don't have a curfew, you don't have rules, you don't have anyone constantly nagging you, but let's not get carried away. Don't be the freshman who gets a tattoo on the first night of living on your own. Don't be the freshman who tries to drink every liquor behind the bar. Don't be the freshman who gets caught up being someone that they aren't. My best advice would be to take things slow.

4. Don't be that freshman who starts school isolated in a relationship

I'm not telling you not to date anyone during your freshman year. I am saying to not cut yourself off from the rest of the world while you date someone. Your first year on campus is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, but people are constantly eager to start dating someone and then only spend time with that person.

Be the freshman who can manage time between friends and relationships.

5. Don't be that freshman who can't handle things on their own

It is your first year on your own. Yes, you still need help from your parents. But at this point, they should not be ordering your textbooks or buying your parking pass. If you need something for a club or for class, YOU should handle it. If you're having roommate problems, YOU should handle it, not your parents. This is the real world and college is a great time for you to start building up to be the person you want to be in the future, but you can't successfully do that if your parents still deal with every minor inconvenience for you.

6. Don't be that freshman who only talks to their high school friends

I know your high school was probably amazing, and you probably had the coolest people go there. However, I believe that college is a great time to be on your own and experience new things. Meeting new people and going to new places will allow you to grow into a more mature person. There is a way to balance meeting new friends and maintaining friendships with childhood friends, and I am sure you will find that balance.

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Spoiler Alert, But Your Passion Doesn't Have To Be Your Career

Just because I don't want to teach as a career doesn't mean that I don't like teaching at all.

Neve
Neve
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In music, there are a lot of career paths you could pursue. You could pursue music education, music performance, music therapy, music industry, etc. Beyond those, there are even more careers that you can break into smaller categories. When I started college, I wanted to be a high school band director. Now, I definitely don't want to be that. (I honestly don't want to continue in music at all, but that's beside the point.) I changed my major to music performance a few years back because I finally realized that I didn't want to teach high school students day in and day out.

I realize now that I was really confused when I got to college. I had the opportunity to be part of a really great marching band program in high school and it sparked my passion for music. I wanted to continue that great high school marching band program for the rest of my life. But at 17, there was no way for me to realize that a degree in music education and a job as a high school band director wouldn't give me the experience that I was searching for.

A job as a high school band director isn't all marching band competitions and trophies. Depending on your placement, marching season can consist of spoon-feeding music lessons to high school students who didn't get the opportunity to have the thorough training that I did. Speaking of marching season, it's just that: A season. In my area, marching season lasts from roughly August to October. After that, it's over. You're doing other things. You're doing the rest of your job.

From October to May, a band director usually focuses on their concert band. I liked concert season, but it didn't give me the same warm, fuzzy feeling that marching season used to. I loved playing my instrument, but there was something about the competition season that got my brain buzzing.

Knowing what I know now, I realized that I wouldn't be nearly as happy for the rest of the academic year if I were to continue down the path I was going. I realized that I shouldn't pursue something that only gave me my passion 30 percent of the time. What would I do with that other 70 percent? I would probably be happy, but it wasn't what I had imagined.

With all that said and a new major, that doesn't mean that I don't like to teach now. I got the opportunity to help out with my former high school's band camp this summer and I was ELATED. I helped the drum majors navigate the ins and outs of leadership in high school and taught them some helpful conducting maneuvers. I was tired from sweating and being outside all day, but on the drive from the high school back home, I was already thinking of new activities for my drum majors to do.

I'm lucky that my career path and major has so many branches and specializations. I'm lucky that they're all so closely related. But even if your career path isn't as closely aligned as mine, you can still do what you love.

You can do what you love without making a career out of it.

Neve
Neve

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