The Number 1 Tip for Incoming Freshmen To Prepare for College
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The Number 1 Tip for Incoming Freshmen To Prepare for College

It's not what you think it is.

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The Number 1 Tip for Incoming Freshmen To Prepare for College
Alexa Diehl

When I think back to who I was when I entered my freshman year of college and who I am now, nearing the start of my sophomore year, I cannot believe how much I have grown as a person. I have said it before and I will say it again: I do not believe I changed per se, but rather that I evolved over the course of my freshman year. My RA definitely had the right idea with the Pokemon theme in our hallway — I started the year as Horsea, but when I came back from winter break, I had evolved into Seadra! It was spot on for freshman year.

When I started my freshman year, I was still incredibly shy, completely unsure of myself and I felt like a total baby. In retrospect, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, even though I tried desperately to at least appear like I was not going through a million internal battles. I have two older siblings who both finished college years ago, and I remember texting them about my disbelief that no one was telling me where to go or what to do. The craziest thing to me was that I did not have to be anywhere, I did not have to do anything. That concept in and of itself was wild to me, and entirely overwhelming. But can you blame me? As a college freshman, you are automatically thrust from having to ask to go to the bathroom and shuffling through your day like a robot operating by the school bells to having free reign to go wherever you want and do whatever you please. I remember thinking to myself, "But I am such a baby! I don't know what I am supposed to do!"

And the fact of the matter is, you are not supposed to know what to do. The notion that "high school prepares you for college" is honestly complete crap. My AP classes did not prepare me for the realization two months in that taking five academic classes plus two choir classes was way too much for me to handle. Taking nine classes in a nine-period school day (with no lunch period, mind you) most definitely did not prepare me for the night I broke down crying because I was so utterly overwhelmed with the amount of work I had to do.

That situation was remedied with a good cry on a phone call to my brother, who encouraged me to drop one academic class and one of the choir courses. He reassured me that I was not a failure for realizing my limits, but rather that I needed to make the smart choice to work within my limits. The next day, I marched myself right down to the registrar's office, and within the week I was down to four academic courses and one choir class. Based on my brother's advice, I scheduled an appointment at the Psychological Counseling Center to talk with someone regularly about academic stress and any other issues I needed to talk about. Just as my brother had promised, once I took fewer classes and talked to someone about my academic stress, everything fell into place. I had enough time in the day outside of class to do my work, I had more time to have fun, and overall I felt so much happier.

High school also did not prepare me for the rocky road of making friends in college. After going to school with the same kids for thirteen years, my friends were essentially the people I always shared classes with. It was easy since we were always together, and it seemed to come naturally. I quickly learned in college that my high school friendships with those I shared AP and honors classes with were the farthest thing from organic. It took me awhile to find my "group" in college. I was super shy and I struggled because unlike at my small high school, people did not just know who I was. For the first couple of months, I thought that I would never find friends in college. I texted my parents and siblings about it a lot. To be quite frank, I texted them a ton in the first place--an easy trap to fall into since it can seem like your family members are the only people you know in the beginning. But just like my family continually reassured me, eventually, it just happened. Seemingly overnight I met the people who would become my best friends, and once again everything just fell into place.

My point in saying all of this is not to make all of you pre-frosh scared. College is an incredibly exciting time, more so than I can justly communicate in words. But it is also a time when you learn a ton, and a lot of the time, you have to learn things the hard way. It will not be easy. It will not be all rainbows and smiles. It will be invigorating and exciting, but you might also find yourself crying and calling your mom rife with worry and anxiety.

My number one tip for incoming college freshmen is the following: prepare to be unprepared. You can do what I did the summer before freshman year and read list upon list of tips to prepare for your first year of college. You can read article after article detailing what to expect your freshman year. I encourage you to do so, because at the very least it will ease your nerves and get you even more excited. But I promise you that no amount of mental preparation can truly prepare you for the whirlwind of new and unimaginable experiences that you will encounter over the course of your freshman year.

I could not have prepared myself for the first week of college, when I cried myself to sleep every night because I was so homesick. But then that first week ended, and suddenly I did not miss home as much. I could not have prepared myself for the end of my first semester, when I felt like I had not truly enjoyed myself as much as I could have, and I felt like I did not really belong on campus. But then second semester I joined a sorority, and being a part of that community has made me happier than I ever dreamed I would be in college.

I could not have prepared for feeling utterly unconfident and unsure of myself for the better half of my freshman year. But it was through unpreparedness and taking freshman year's many curveballs as they came to me that I became the self-assured college student who cannot wait to go back for sophomore year. I learned and grew tremendously with each setback, mistake, and disappointment. It is the freshman struggle that will allow you to evolve into the mature and self-confident person you could never have envisioned yourself becoming at the beginning of freshman year.

Pre-frosh, get excited. You are in for an incredible journey that will undoubtedly change your life.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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