Dear rising college freshman,
First of all, congratulations. You have completed high school and survived it both academically and socially, you have overcome the tedious, mind-blowing, mind-numbing, and ego-breaking process that is college application, and you have been admitted to a college and will be attending this fall.
It's okay if you didn't get into your "top choice" school. It sucks, I know, but the only thing you will lose now if you wallow in regret and disappointment is precious time and energy better spent on getting the most out of the school you will be attending.
Take a moment to look back on all of these experiences and take a deep breath. A stage of your life has just ended, and it's time to move forward.
But relax, you're not an adult just yet, so don't forget to call home once in a while.
Now, there are a few things that will vanish from here on: Your social status in high school does not mean anything once you get to college, and the same goes for your high school GPA and standardized test scores. Nobody cares about these things anymore, and the best way to lower people's opinions of you is to talk about them too much. College is the perfect chance to reinvent yourself, or to finally be the person you have always been but were too afraid to be due to the social pressures of high school. Now is the time to embrace yourself because, chances are, you will find at least one other person who will be exactly like you.
Another thing that you should leave behind in high school is the way you refer to your instructors. I am sure you have heard this at least once by now, but in case you haven't or in case it didn't go into your head the first time, I will repeat it here: The easiest way to get on a faculty member's bad side is to refer to them as 'teacher' and/or call them Ms./Mrs./Mr. Please, please don't do this. The safest way to refer to a faculty member is "Professor," when you do not know whether the individual holds a doctorate degree.
College is not the real world, but it won't be as easy as high school was. Don't go into this thinking that you can earn the same grades you did in high school with an equal amount of studying. And no, this doesn't depend on which major you choose. Whether you're in Art, Anthropology, Biology, Business, Communication, Computer Science, Engineering, English, Mathematics, or Physics, you'll have to work three times as hard as you did in high school. It's a fact, so be prepared.
It's okay to not know what you want to major in right off the bat. It is also okay to go into college thinking you want to major in one thing and then come out majoring in something completely different. College is about finding what you want to do in life and working toward it. If you have no goals as of yet, you will find them here; that's what the environment is structured to permit. Don't let the opinion of others or stereotypes turn you away from a certain academic path. Find your passion and follow it because, whatever your major is, as long as you do things to the best of your ability, you will find a career later on that allows you to put those skills in practice.
It will be easy to give in to temptation to miss class: in college, many professors don't count attendance as part of the grade, and they most likely won't be on your case about it as your teachers were in high school. However, please go to class, even if you think you can skip class and learn the material on your own, go to class. In college, it's not uncool to study. Having to study or do homework is a completely legitimate motive for passing up on a social commitment. In fact, you should cast a doubtful eye upon those who do not respect the decision of staying in to study instead of "having fun." It's not all about the social life and the parties.
That said, do make an effort to make friends. A college campus is the perfect environment for the cultivation of different thoughts and ideas, so don't be afraid to be yourself, and definitely don't be afraid to hang out with individuals who think differently than you do. Make sure to not simply stick to one social circle, and not be hanging out with your roommate(s) all the time. Some of the most enlightening and meaningful conversations you will ever have will occur in this campus. Seek them out and embrace them.
Make an effort to get along with your roommate(s). Communication is everything. If you have a problem with something they do, tell them nicely instead of being passive-aggressive about it. It will save everyone a lot of grief. However, it's okay if things don't work out with your first year roommates. Just make sure you walk away from a situation knowing that you did everything you could to make peace. Problem solving is all about how you react to the issue in the first place.
One of the biggest lessons you will learn in college are open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance. You will meet people you don't agree with, and who downright piss you off. You will meet people whom you will piss off as well. Keep in mind that everyone has their own opinion and people don't have to agree with each other all the time. If everyone thought the same way, the world would be pretty darn boring!
Last, but not least, it will all be okay. These may or may not be the best years of your life, but one thing is for sure: they will not come back once they're gone, so make the most out of them. Always remember to work hard toward your goals, but stop and smell the roses every once in a while.
All the very best,