College is something that, in all honesty, cannot be explained by a simple paper or word of mouth. It is just an experience, and with experiences comes the reality that everyone's college journey is completely different. While everyone does have some overlapping memories of things they have tried, it really just doesn't match up to a single person's story. Here are some of the things I learned during my first semester of college:
1. You may not end up with the stereotypical "having your roommate as your best friend" experience
I had zero issues with my first roommate; we just weren't meant to be best friends. Some people become super close to their roommates and stay that way for the rest of their time at college, but for me, that just wasn't the case. It just happened to turn out that she was someone I just co-inhabited a closet-sized space with for a semester. If you do happen to be best friends with your roommate, then all the more power to you. It isn't a bad deal either way.
2. Going out on the week days or the weekend actually isn't as cool as you think it is
At first, being able to go out to a party at any time of the night was the coolest thing since sliced bread. But after a while, it became the same thing. To be honest, every party experience I have ever had just kind of melted together into one.
The only thing that changed is the location and the group of friends I went out with. Staying in with your friends or even by yourself to watch a movie is just as good, if not even better, as being squished against 50 people you don't know in a sweaty basement for Friday night entertainment.
3. GO TO CLASS
At first, I kind of thought the idea was so cool that I could just take a day off. But in my experience, don't do it. No matter how much you want to sleep in or just take the entire day off to relax, keep up with your work. In college, the teaching and lectures don't stop just because you decided to snooze your alarm 12 times.
Life — and the lessons learned in class — will catch up to you super quick if you aren't there to take them in or write the notes down. In general, going to class just makes homework, life, and your well-being a little bit better knowing you are actually a college student and you do go to your respected university.
4. Make friends
Friends make or break you around here. To have friends means you have people to check up on you, take you out to eat with, and help you with classes. If I didn't make the support group I did in college my first few months, I wouldn't have lasted very long. Friends basically hold you together when it's 4 am during finals week and you've been doing note cards for 6 hours. They are the people who cheer you up, go on wild late-night adventures with, and best of all, are the ones you create memories with that last a lifetime.
5. Don't worry about what others think of your major
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that my major was stupid or was useless, I could probably fund the rest of my education. My major in Advertising isn't even that far-fetched, but people find reasons to denounce what you want to do with your life. In life, it really doesn't matter what you do as long as it makes you happy.
If building airplanes makes you happy or planning events such as weddings gives you joy, then who cares what anyone else has to say about it? In the end, I'm going to sleep better at night doing something I love than waking up every day hating my job and career.
6. Join clubs, go watch athletics, go to concerts, and just plain enjoy yourself
While school should be your number one priority while you're there, just remember that you do have a life and a reality outside of hitting the books. Joining clubs is not only a good way to make friends, but it's also a way to get some experience in life. On most campuses, I would assume they have clubs for whatever you are interested in.
Not to mention that doing these extra activities — like going out to see the latest basketball game or writing for the student-run newspaper — makes your life feel a little bit better. Enjoying yourself and taking care of yourself should be one of your top priorities, next to school itself.
7. Enjoy it while it lasts
Watching my friends graduate is probably one of the saddest things I've seen while being here, besides failing a test. Life goes fast — no matter if you want it to or not — so every day, just take in the experiences and don't take it for granted. A lot of people in this life don't even get the opportunity to go to college —much less get to live near all the people they love and care about. Just to be able to text someone and walk less than a mile to go see them is something you'll never be able to do again. Live life while you're young — don't let things skip by you or just allow things to happen.
In the end, just enjoy your college experience. You get one shot to absolutely enjoy being on your own and being this young. Take college for what it is: one of the best and hardest life experiences you will ever have. Learn a lot, love a lot, and get your work done because it's a wild ride.