Dear Incoming Freshmen,

Somehow “I will be in college in a year” quickly turned into “I leave for college in one week.” This is such an exciting time in your life. At the same time, it is easy to feel apprehensive about the future. Leaving for college is a bittersweet occasion. Saying “see you later” to your family and friends can be difficult. Additionally, leaving everything that is familiar and comfortable is not easy. I would be lying if I said the transition from high school to college was easy, but I promise you there are far better things ahead than what lies behind.

You are about to embark on one incredible journey. I would do almost anything to turn back time and start these 4 years over again. I remember feeling like going to college seemed like I was an inexperienced swimmer being thrown into the deep end and being told to learn how to swim. I remember standing behind my dorm crying watching my Dad drive off. I could not believe he was just leaving me there to survive by myself.

In all honesty, the first few days were rough. It was awkward, lonely and stressful, but I promise it gets better. In those moments where you feel overwhelmed, lost and confused, remember that every freshman is in that same place too—you are so far from alone. It is also important to remember that there are people willing to help you, whether it be upperclassmen, RAs, professors, staff, or anyone else at the university, everyone can relate to what it feels like to be a freshman.

College can be as awesome as you make it. At first, you might get lost trying to walk around campus, and you might not know where to put your tray in the dining hall; but after a week, you will have all of that down. Do not be afraid to reach outside of your comfort zone. Take a class you never thought you would take. Join a club or two. Try intramural sports. Take a break from cramming for your midterm at midnight to go for a late night ice cream run with your friends. Borrow a tray from the dining hall and go sledding in the winter. You will be provided with endless opportunities in college. Take a leap and be open to trying things. As cheesy as it is, college is all about discovering who you are and learning about yourself. In order to do that, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Of course, there is that whole “school” part of college, that I suppose is pretty easy to forget about. But in all seriousness, college classes are a lot better than some people think. Especially once you get into classes for your major, you get to spend the whole day learning about things that you are extremely interested in. Even if it you are not in a class that you love, the professors are so passionate about what they teach. They have dedicated their lives to that particular subject, and their passion can make a not-so-enjoyable class be interesting. Sure classes are hard and require a lot of work, but at the end of the day, we go to college to learn.

In my opinion, one of the best parts about college is the sense of community. College is one of the only times in life that you will live within a 2-ish mile radius of almost all undergraduates who are all around your age and you share a common goal with-earning a degree. I can reach all of my friends within a 30 minute walk. At any given time, I can walk about 15 minutes from the center of campus and reach all of my teammates. Coming together for athletic games and other large occasions and student activities where we can support our fellow classmates is an amazing feeling. Representing your university in a given sport is a feeling that cannot be described. There is a huge sense of pride that you feel to be a part of the legacy of your university and to share such a big part of so many people’s lives. Throughout my three years so far, I have been blessed with so much. I have met some of the greatest people in my life, I have had countless, indescribable experiences being a student-athlete. I have the honor of being the president of a student volunteer organization which has provided me with more life lessons than I can describe. There is no doubt that my college family is my second family. I cannot imagine leaving this place in May.

Believe me when I say, the days are long but the years are short. Go to class, do laundry, eat good food, do your homework and sleep. But do not forget to live every day to the fullest and enjoy the journey.