Whether college is the next step for you, leaving home always comes with the biggest challenges. Everyone made it look so easy to be on your own. "College will be the best days of your life." - I can't tell you how many times I've heard that one. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love going to school, it was hands down the best decision I've ever made. But with all things good, of course you will face challenges. I am going on my third year, and I am STILL learning new things everyday. Between classes, campus life, clubs & organizations, Greek life, staying healthy, and keeping up with a high social status, SO MUCH is expected of you during these four crucial years. This is your time to set your stones, pave your path, create a name for yourself. Stress is high of course, but you have to learn how to balance it all.
I have thought of so many things that could be helpful to know before entering University. I have actually had the opportunity to sit on a panel and speak to high-schoolers on what to expect during these years. But what do I know - I'm still figuring it out myself. Here's a list of five things I think you should know before going to college.
1. Freshman 15 is a REAL THING
Okay, so I am just speaking from personal experience, but "freshman 15" is a REAL THING. You are thrown into this world of stress and free food (meal plans, so it feels free), and mixing those together is not pretty.
I want to preface, I think everyone is beautiful no matter what size you are. Being confident in your own skin is SO important. I have struggled with body image issues as long as I can remember. But I think everyone can agree, there is a huge difference in keeping a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. I would go to the world's most BORING 8 am and immediately want to "bored eat" a donut right after class. I would be so stressed about my exam the next day, I would eat any snack in my pantry. Walking back to my dorm from math class and smelling fresh french fries from Stadium View. I would go to the dining hall with my friends for dinner, and one swipe gets you into a glorious buffet heaven, all you can eat courtesy of chocolate cake plates staring me in the face.
Freshman 15 can also be the other way around. Losing weight, significantly. I would have so much stress built up over exams or assignments that I would either forget to eat, or physically could not eat. Long nights in the library, busting your ass to get an assignment done by midnight, or study for a last minute exam the next day, you forget to eat or just don't have the time.
With all of this being said, some people think that this is inevitable. I think that even though your life is making a drastic change, it doesn't mean you have to let yourself slip into unhealthy habits. Even though those unlimited chicken tenders and fries will satisfy your craving in the moment, and seem like the easy option, try building a healthier habit. You don't have to quit cold turkey, just try to work healthier options into your diet instead of constant junk food intake.
ALCOHOL is a huge factor. Let's not all act like you don't know what alcohol is at 18 … I sure did. Pick a lower calorie alcoholic beverage, ain't no laws when your drinking claws. And don't work yourself to death. Use a planner, schedule time for yourself, and keep up with that healthy lifestyle. You're worth it love!
2. Homesickness WILL affect you
I could not wait to get out of my hometown … even though I only went about 40 minutes away. I absolutely love my family, they are my everything. But there's just something about being on your own that is irresistible, for most. When you get to a new place with new people, everyone finds their groups immediately. Relationships are formed in the snap of a finger, on the last day of welcome weekend you would think people had been friends for years.
For about a month, maybe two, it's the best time of your life. No curfew, parties all the time, Woody Wednesdays (shout out to my UC peeps), you can skip class if you want - would not recommend, you are LIVING your best life. But then it slowly hits you that you don't have that love and support to come home to everyday. It took me several rounds of roommates to finally feel like I was at home. Your family just gives you that stability that most aren't ready to leave, I don't think I was ever ready to give that up. My parents and I were close, but we actually got closer once I left. I would call my mom at least three times a day, and most times it would just be to tell her hi.
Get excited to live on campus, or move away from home. I promise it's one of the best things I have ever done. It teaches you a sense of responsibility that nothing else really can. As much as I missed my parents company, I love being independent. Keep that relationship in tact, and it will be one of the best supporters throughout your years in college, honestly throughout your life. Don't be afraid to tell your parents things, I'm quite sure they have done something much worse - college was a thing for them too! Make those trips back home when you can, but enjoy your new life on your own!
3. Roommates aren't forever
Let's talk about roommates shall we. I am the CEO of roommate experiences. I have lived in four, going on five different housing situations since I have started college (yes, you did the math right, that's a new place every semester). My first roommate was nice, we just didn't click as people. But that's okay! When you go random, which most people do as freshmen, you don't have to be best friends. My second round of roommates I lived with seven other girls … yes, seven (stories will be coming your way). This was also all random but one of the best things to ever happen to me. I clicked with three girls that semester and ended up only staying in touch with one. She is one of my best friends and introduced me to my other two best friends. So in this case, my advice may be wrong.
Round three, I lived with one girl I knew and two random girls. WORST. EXPERIENCE. EVER. I was never home, I stayed with my friends constantly. My food was eaten or thrown away, my things would go "missing", just not the best time of my life. So I'm on to round four and this time I think I got it right. She is my current roommate and I LOVE her to death. She has become one of my best friends and it only took 3 rounds to find her! We are currently moving into a nicer place, so hopefully this is more permanent.
Just remember, when you get to college, everyone is in the same boat. You are all strangers to each other, and all looking to make friends. Be respectful to your roommate, but if they just aren't your person, there's is NO pressure. Your dorm isn't a best friend contract, but if you do get along or even become friends, bonus! Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people! Who knows, your bestie for the restie might live one floor above you.
4. You will be dragged out on Thirsty Thursday, even if you have an 8 am on Friday
Time management is key. I have a planner, wall calendar, and use the calendar on my phone. I plan my month in advance to make sure I don't miss any meetings, classes, assignments, or exams. But it takes time to get to this state of mind. Freshmen year I would slip up all the time. I would oversleep classes, or forget that assignment was due at midnight. When you're on your own, you don't have someone telling you what to do 24/7, that person is you.
Getting that "let's go out tonight" text will send you into an emotional wave. Of course I want to go out with my friends but I have 20,000 things to do before Friday. This is where time management comes into play. I know so many people who go out every night and still make it to class, however this is not me. If rallying is your thing, then you go sis. Just make sure you are getting things done and succeeding in what your paying money to do. After college, more than likely partying every night will not be a priority, it's your career. So don't fail out of college because you want to go to $1 shot night.
5. You're personal life may or may not be a mess
I would like to know who in the world thought it was a good idea for there to be an expectation of being a college student and still trying to have a personal life. I joke … sort of. Being in school is hard. You are learning and testing and writing and DYING. You have so much to focus on to make sure you are being successful in your career path. College is not just going to class and taking an exam. You have to maintain a good GPA, join clubs to be involved on campus (resume things), take internship positions to create experience. For those of you in Greek like, I don't know how you do it. I can barely find time to brush my teeth everyday.
Even though you might feel like a hot mess, remember that "me time" is a thing. Take an hour and go run it out at the gym, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, make yourself a little nicer dinner than the Ramen noodles norm. Make sure you are spending time with friends, or even your significant other! Just because you may feel like your life is at 100 mph, happiness is still something you deserve. Make time for a personal life, it's so important.
Until next time, stay happy :)