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