To The Returning College Students

To The Returning College Students

The Freshmen have plenty of advice, so here's yours.
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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.



Cover Image Credit: Julia Qualls

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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I Wonder If You'd Be Proud of Me

Or if you even think of me at all.

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I wonder if you'd be proud of me.

My first thought when I wake up in the morning is whether or not you still think of me. I think about if I am wearing the right outfit if I were to see you that day. I think about if I am saying the right thing for you to want to want me again.

Throughout my day, I think about whether or not you're happy. I wonder if the feeling in my heart of missing who I thought you were is making its way to you. Sometimes I think about what I did to make you hate me as much as you do.

Sometimes when things get really hard, I think about picking up the phone to call you. Time keeps passing from the last time I saw you and during that time I've painted a picture of you that would probably only disappoint me in the end. Your phone number still sits in my phone and I go to your contact, wanting to call, but knowing that at the other end is not the person I used to know.

I wonder if you watch me. I wonder if the posts I make, pictures I post, and articles I write are viewed by you and whether or not you care to even search my name. I wonder if you ask people about me or if you care to know the person I am today.

Without you, I have changed. It has been two years and though time will only continue moving on without you, I wonder what would have happened if I didn't make the choices I made to make you react in the way you have.

When the sun shines bright on the flowers blooming around campus, I think of your jokes and sarcastic wit. When the rain pours from the sky and keeps me imprisoned within the walls of a building, I think of ways I felt imprisoned by you. When clouds form shapes in the sky that I can make stories out of, I think of the way life could've been.

Sometimes I write to you. They are the letters I can never send because I have to remind myself that though we knew each other once, you do not know me anymore. The picture in my mind of who you are now is someone who'd love me with open arms, but I know that there's no truth in that. It's only my wishful thinking out to break my heart once more.

I wonder if you hear me when I try talking to you. I wonder if the words I tell God are making their way to you as you go on living the life we always talked about when times get tough. I wonder if you're talking to God about me.

As I watch the sunset, I think about the last moment I was with you. As that chapter ended, I was only wishfully thinking that walking away would save me from further pain. In the end, I don't know about how life would've been different had it not happened.

When my picture of you gets too bright and I share it with others, I am reminded of reality. The screaming, crying, pushing, shoving, and hitting touches my skin once more in the form of flashbacks that push me further down into the depths of a depression. I am reminded of the hundreds of suicidal thoughts and letters that I've written once before.

No matter what, my heart still yearns for a hug. A hug where I can bury myself into your body and feel safe. A hug where I forget every worry in my mind and focus solely on the love.

I wonder if you'd still love me if I changed myself to be the person you've always wanted me to be. I wonder if you'd forgive me for walking away, even if it was for me to change to be a better person. I wonder if you'll ever even read this.

Days like today, I want to go back in time. I sit on the benches around campus and look up at the sky, down at the cars passing by, and listen to life move on all around me as I remain stuck. I hear people talking, see them laughing, and wonder if there's any way I could one day feel as alive as they do.

The truth is that I was never enough for you. No matter how much I changed, kept notes of what you liked so I could be like that, or just kept my head down and moved silently, nothing was ever enough.

No matter what, though, I still yearn to be loved in the way that I picture you should've loved me. Closure does not exist. You were the ones who were supposed to hold me down. But now I am nothing to you...I was always nothing to you.

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