Sometimes I think to myself, "What would life have been like if I knew this three years ago?" As a rising senior in college, I have learned so many things about myself, other people, love, life, and what it means to be a young adult these past four years. To all you freshly graduated high school seniors, here are some important things I wish I knew as a freshman, in chronological order.
1. Packing, Dorm Rooms & Roommates
So you are going to college in the fall! Congrats! I hope you have chosen a school that you love. Now here is something you should consider when packing for your brand new 4x4 dorm room. Seriously, they are small. Think twice before you pack a couch, extra bean bag chair, giant poster, and a flat screen TV. Know the size of your dorm room before you move in. I have witnessed nightmares when kids bring their bedroom to college and there just is not enough room. You do not want to send your parents home with half the stuff you spent hours packing. Pack wisely and smart.
Your dorm room is going to be your home for the next seven and a half months. Take care of it. Take out the trash, vacuum, and do not leave food under your bed. If you are going to drink, drink off campus. If you get caught with alcohol, you will have to pay up to $100 fines or worse, face being suspended from school. Don't be one of those people.
So you got a new roommate! Great. Just remember this, if you guys don't turn out to be best friends, that is okay. You both are there to live with each other and to each have a bed to sleep in. You may not always get along with your roommate either. You may start doing that passive aggressive sh*t where you don't like something he or she does, so you write sticky notes and leave it on their desk. Don't do that. If you find you and your roommate are facing conflict, work through it! Be respectful of their space, do not touch or take their things without asking, and lastly, make sure you do not leave messes. The room is shared and it is not just your bedroom. One more thing: Do not self-disclose every tiny secret about yourself either! Even though you live with this person, do not trust them with your life the first week of college. Trust me, it is a bad idea.
2. Classes & Professors, Majors, and Group Projects
Your first college class has arrived and you probably are going to stress about what to bring or to wear. Do not stress about fashion when it comes to class. Just wear what you normally would. Do not wear heels and spend hours doing your hair. No one cares. This is not high school anymore. If you feel the need to dress up for school, you will find out soon enough that it is unnecessary and tiring. If you do not get into all the classes you wanted to take your first semester, do not fret. You have about seven other semesters to take what you want and need. Also, your professor is just what he or she is; your professor. Respect them as you would your parent, but know that they are not your parents. They are there to teach and help you better yourself throughout your college career. If you need advice, seek your academic adviser because they are the people you should talk to!
Now, you are going to meet other kids who already know what they want to be when they graduate. You are going to meet kids who gloat about their aspirations and hopeful careers as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and actors. Good for them, but their story is not yours. The first year of college is for you to discover who you want to be. At least half the kids who think they got it figured out, will not a couple months down the road. Have a open mind and keep all possibilities open.
Lastly, you are going to be put in numerous group projects and just know this. Some people are going to try to be the leader of the group and others will not do their work. It's okay, breathe, you will get through this. Make sure you have your part done and be prepared. I was once in a group project where we only practiced together once before the presentation. Yes, it was a nightmare. Yes, I got through it, and so will you.
3. Friends, Vacations, and Home: Everything Changes
Soon after you get through the awkward, "Hi, I am a freshmen too! Let's be friends until I meet other people who are more like me" phase, you will make new friends who may be the best people you will ever meet. You will eat lunch and dinner with them, do homework in the library with them, spend your weekends with them and join any cool sounding club with these people. These people will be your school family. You might also find that your best friends back home do not play a part in your life like they used to and it is going to be okay. When you go to college, people grow apart and that is life. If you keep even one friend from high school, consider yourself and that friendship lucky because it just does not happen that way.
WARNING: Brace your emotions for December break because it is going to be a tragedy. This one goes to those who moved far away from home. You are going to come home and find that nothing is the same. It is sad, but you have to deal with it. You cannot move away, create a new life, and then expect everything back home to stay the same. Be prepared to feel disconnected and to not feel so close to the things you thought meant the world to you just a couple months ago.
Lastly, home is going to feel different and that is life. Your parents are going to give you more privileges or they are going to try to keep things, like rules, the way they were in high school. You may have to show them that you are growing up and you can handle the responsibilities that come with becoming an adult. Just remember, as hard as it is to say goodbye, there is nothing like building your own life and making decisions on your own. Do not to be scared to grow up and face obstacles you never faced before.
4. Saying Goodbye is Such Sweet Sorrow
Taking that first car ride for move-in day or taking an airplane across the country will be the hardest thing you will ever have to do at the peak of your teenage years. You may cry, and that is totally okay. Enjoy this year because it will not get any easier. As a senior, I can tell you that the four years will fly by fast. Before you leave for college, take a moment and one last look at what you are leaving behind. Know that everything is about to change, but beautifully. You are on your way to becoming a young adult.
Be strong. Be brave. These are the best years of your life.