One of the quickest realizations I made when I first got to college, is that nothing is the way you anticipate. The perceptions, fears, anxieties, and confidences are all debunked abruptly after arrival and first semester is a huge learning curve filled with both great and stressful times.
1. School is not easy.
Take it from someone who did practically nothing in high school and still did fairly well, that is not an applicable mindset in college. Professors won't be lenient if you hand in an assignment late, a "curve" is simply not a thing, and there are never days without homework- even if you don't technically have work that's due you need to study your notes or read something in order for that day's lesson to make any sense at all. To my surprise, you don't ace a final by "winging it," you actually have to devote at least a full week and a few all-nighters to actually do well.
2. Freedom is more cool than it is daunting.
While having to do your own laundry, wake yourself up in the morning, manage your own money, clean your own room, get your own meals, and complete adult responsibilities may seem intimidating, it is a small price to pay for not having to answer to anyone else. Despite potential, small hiccups like wearing dirty clothes for too long or running your bank account dry, ultimately your maturity is worth the struggles. You are more accountable, but you are also free across the board.
3. A meal plan will save your life, or more accurately, your wallet.
Even though Chipotle for lunch and sushi for dinner every day may seem like a good idea, it won't when your trying to buy a new going out shirt and can't afford it because you spent all your money eating out. The 65% discounts in dining halls, and a magical meal card, is worth suffering through having limited options and mediocre food daily.
4. No one cares how you look.
Sweatpants and no makeup is not a fashion statement, it's the trend.
5. School > going out.
While we like to think the opposite, and I myself have struggled making the right choice, we are first and foremost at college for our academics. No one will care if you miss one party, and no one party will be significantly that much better than the next. If you have a big test the following morning, don't go out. I promise it's not the end of the world (don't let fomo control you.)
6. Sometimes it's hard to make friends.
The embarrassing truth that no one voluntarily admits- making friends can be hard. Despite being friendly and outgoing, it is challenging to not know a person at all and then instantly become good friends with them. Patience is a virtue, go out of your way to walk to classes with people, get meals together, do homework with kids from your class, and be friendly to everyone. Don't be discouraged if after the second week of school you don't have any "best friends." Think about high school, those relationships took 10 years to get to where they are today.
7. No one will notice your biggest insecurity.
In high school, kids got forever labeled with what they were most insecure about: "the fat kid," "the boy with the big nose," "the girl with an eating disorder." In college, to be quite frank, no one cares. Don't let your insecurities keep you up at night because they are way too insignificant.
8. Or your worst regret.
By the next weekend, no one will remember if you passed out on the couch, spilled your drink on someone, fell off an elevated surface, or pissed your pants. Don't let something that will soon be old news, keep you from being yourself.
9. College flies by.
Everyone tells you this, but you don't realize until your first semester ends and you still feel like it just started. Enjoy it all- every tradition, every snowy walk to class, every annoying professor, every party, every game day, every adventure, everything; because before you know it, you'll be on your last Christmas break before your graduating semester, wishing you could go back to the start of it all.