In 2017 I started my first year of college at East Carolina University. Throughout my freshman year, I learned more than just what was taught in lecture, what I learned made me a better person. It will be the worst, push you to the breaking point and just when you think you cannot do it, you somehow make it through.
For you high school seniors reading this, I hope you got your sleep in high school because college is a different story. You will learn to go over 24 hours without sleeping just to make that grade (but you really only get a 64). You will go from an A student to a C student. You will be so exhausted and wanting to go home or call your parents crying. While at this point, you may be ready just to give up and take your chances at being a trophy wife, do not give up. The good memories will make the painpriceless. You will have these memories forever, and as time passes they are the most valuable things you can ever own. I will never forget the late-night runs to cookout or sharing a twin XL with your best friends because we all hate the dorms but being together makes it better. I will never forget the sweet lady at dining hall who can put a smile on anyone's face just by her morning greetings or the late-night library study rooms with your best friends where little studying actually gets done. I will never forget opening that bid-card on bid-day and realizing the girls were just not the right fit for me anymore. I just would never forget this year period, nor would I ever dream of wanting to.
College is a series of tests and rewards. You get pushed to the breaking point, but just when you are starting to crumble, you'll see the reward is far sweeter than any of the Starbucks drinks you will live off (seriously parents no matter if you have a boy or girl, Starbucks gift cards are life lines especially around finals.) The most important part of your college experience is never taking for granted what you have experienced. No matter what it is. Whether you get your heart broken by whatever Brad, Chad, or Thad in sigma apple pie, or if you fail an important test, even if you don't get the sorority or fraternity you want, take it as a lesson; for good or bad and run with it.
This is the one time in your life where you can do or beanything you want. You can be anything you want, except for being perfect. Believe me you WILL make mistakes and it WILL be okay. This is scary at first without your parents to be in the other room to console you. Trust me, you will have a newfound appreciation for your parents and all they do for you even if you forget to tell them how much you appreciate them. Those funny quotes about calling your parents and telling them about what sandwich you ate, yeah it becomes reality. Call your parents as much as you can, trust me they will be as happy to hear from you as you are to hear them. Even hearing their voice can completely turn around a bad day. Love and cherish them deeply while you can, they won't be here forever. That being said, no matter how much you miss them, do NOT go home every weekend. You never again in your life will have this much freedom. Take advantage of it while you can, no one will blame you. You never again will be able to have all your friends in one place, honestly, they become your school family. You will all go through so much together. Probably gain the freshmen 15 together. I blame it on so much Chick-fil-a. Seriously though that's your only option. Dining. Hall. Sucks. Honestly dorm life just sucks. There is no sugar coating sharing a bathroom with 30+ girls or sharing a shoe box of a room with another person. Yet, this person will become your constant. No matter what irritating thing they do, or how much you want to scream at them, you will miss waking up in the same room as them as soon as that first summer night at home hits. In fact, no matter what hell hole of a dorm you have, no matter what cockroaches or mold you find, you'll miss it and the memories thewalls hold (ok maybe not the cockroaches & mold though).
When you have your first year under your belt, you will be amazed and terrified by how fast it went by. You blink once, its move in and your hugging your Parents good-bye as you begin to start your next chapter. You blink again, you're going home for the holidays ready to tell your family about all your amazing friends at school. The next time you blink, its spring break and as the week comes to an end, you wonder how you only have a month left of your freshmen year. When you blink again, you are walking out of your freshmen dorm with your stuff packed, driving away from the campus that swallowed you whole just to spit you back out. While you will be excited to be back home, you will miss it all. You'll realize that all the late-nights, heartbreaks, failed tests, tears, and waffle fry calories were a small price to pay for the best year of your life yet. I cannot stress enough to be grateful for EVERYTHING that comes along your path your freshmen year. Everything is a life lesson. Live your college years with the motto "no ragrats." At the end of the year, you don't want to say "I wish I did that." You will not remember the nights you chose to watch Netflix in bed. You'll remember the nights that end with you and your friends losing your voice from screaming your lungs out to whatever song the bar is playing. Also making that song "your song" from that moment on. You'll remember the nights when you break down and can't do anything but cry yet, having your friends there for you makes everything better. Sorry Mom and Dad but you don't remember the Friday nights at the library or the ones you chose to be at home. You remember the nights when your friend is already so drunk they're throwing up, so you start taking funny videos to cry laughing at the next morning no matter how grumpy and hung-over you guys are.
Looking at these memories you've captured over the year, even while walking to your final classes makes you so happy you cannot hide it. As your smiling looking at your phone, you'll look up and see the campus tours going on. It is nostalgic to think that at one time, that was you. With your parents, bright-eyed, well rested, and naïve, not having one clue of the storm you will be thrown in. Yet, even going through the biggest storm, I would go through a million storms just to go back to relive the hot summer day in the beginning of the year carrying my boxes upstairs to my new home. It will be over before you know it, so make mistakes, drink a little too much, spend all-night studying, make the best friends and memories you have ever had. Cherish everyone and everything. Always remember that it will fly by before you know it, so take your freshman year in its entirety and be grateful of everything it comes with.
-A no longer College Freshman