I've done the Freshman thing. I packed up, left home, moved into a TINY dorm, taken classes, found my people at college, but what's next? I love college, and leading up to my college experience, I was often told, "These are going to be the best years of your life." And they have been, but often times, people may think the goal of college is to pass a class, find your place, and make it through. But there's more to college after your Freshman year, and this article is for those people who have made it through a year, at least, in the college lifestyle. Here're the things they won't tell you about coming back:
There are people outside your current friend group and clubs outside your clubs.
Okay, I know this. You know this. This isn't some mind blowing fact, but it is still something that needs to be acknowledged. Whether you're a Sophomore or a fifth year Senior, this is still relevant. It is so easy to stick to certain people because, let's face it, these are YOUR people. But don't limit yourself to the friends you have. Branch out. Meet new people, and make new friends alongside the old. Be real with people, and be yourself. Whether you're in Residential Life, Greek Life, Student Leadership, College Athletics, or even just a group of friends who study together (or nothing at all), it's never too late to get involved with other college habitats. Befriend other people who may not share the same letters, colors, or activities. Often times we are so comfortable in our own college niche that we are afraid to try something new. I also think that club stereotypes can lead us down another road of fear, but I encourage you to put aside all rumors and get to know people for yourself. Get to know clubs for yourself. Be slow to base your judgments on what you have heard, and give people and clubs a chance. Sometimes giving things a chance can lead us to new friendships and places we wouldn't be without the willingness to be uncomfortable.
There are days where you may still be unsure about what you plan to do with your life.
College is tricky. I cannot tell you how many tough decisions come with the college lifestyle, and the question that haunts people most is usually, "What's your major?" Listen, sometimes, it isn't going to be clear on what you want to do when you first go into college. Sometimes, it may not get clearer after your first year either, and that is okay. I encourage you to continue to explore what you're passionate about. Find something you love, and try to make a career out of it. Talk to professors, friends, and family. Be open with what you love and be patient when choosing a major. Maybe you don't know, and that's okay. And while college has a lot to offer, don't forget why you're there. Go to class. Study. Work hard. Get a good education. At the end of the day, remember what matters. Sometimes, you will have to miss that dinner with all your friends to write a paper. Sometimes, you will have to lose a few hours of sleep for that exam. Nobody ever regrets a bad grade, so try hard. Continue to try hard. It's worth it.
There are parents and family members that you will never stop missing while you're away.
I had a really hard time leaving home, granted, I am only two hours away, but it was still incredibly difficult. It's not easy to leave the ones you love, even though the freedom is nice. I was ready to get away from home my first semester in college, but like any college teen, I missed my parents a lot. Somethings never change. I still miss my family, and I don't know if I will ever shake that. There are times I still cry when I leave home, and there are still times I have to call my Mom and ask her how to get a stain out. Call them when you miss them. Answer when they call. And spend time with them when you can. You can't choose your family, but you can choose the way you love them, so love them fiercely.
There is a world outside of college.
College is not the end of the world. That relationship that didn't work out, the friendship that didn't last, and the bad grade on an exam— these things do not define you as a person in this world. Make the most of what you can. Let go of the things that weigh you down. Celebrate on the good days. Laugh on the bad days. Find joy in your circumstances. Be passionate. Eat poorly (sometimes). Take a nap. Cry a little. Be good to yourself. Be proud of what you've accomplished. One day, you may look back and miss this time, but for now, enjoy building a life for yourself in this world because you deserve a life full of passion for looking back on.
College is a time to truly find yourself. Freshman year is a challenge in itself, and, quite frankly, there are still many aspects of continuing growth in. After that year, the college experience will continue full force. Classes get harder and people grow apart, but that's never a time to stop being uncomfortable. College demands change and growth. College is not a time for convenience. It's a time to surround yourself with people who love you, encourage you, and fight for you. It's a time to study, drink coffee, and go to class. It's a time to miss your family, enjoy holidays, and call your mom frequently. It's a time to forgive, forget, and find joy in the simple things. College isn't an easy time, but it's a time to learn about everything in life, especially ourselves. So to all you Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, and advanced Seniors, it's not too late to try something new. It's not too late to find yourself. It's not too late to be uncomfortable.