College is a time of fear and growth, of fun and work, and of sorrow and joy. There are few things in life more worthwhile than being thrown head first into a new town with new people and being all alone throughout the process. As I wrap up my first year at Carolina, (Go Heels) I reflect on some of the things I wish I would have known on my first day of class back in August. While I hope you read this article and take at least one piece of advice with you, I am very aware that college is very much a "learn by doing" experience. Here are 21 things I wish I knew, now that I have finished my first year as a member of the Class of 2021.
1. Move-In Day is going to be way less sad than you think it will be
Don't get me wrong, leaving home is going to be super hard. There will most likely be tears, BUT once you get all set up in your new room, the excitement sets in. Move-in day isn't going to be as hard as you think it will be, in all reality, the first day is a blast.
2. Your roommate is going to become one of the most important people in your world
It doesn't matter if and when you two met. Whoever your roommate ends up being, they are going to matter. Once upon a time, someone told me that people are either a lesson or a blessing. If your experience isn't the best, learn from it. If you are fortunate enough to have a great roommate, value every single memory. You'll see why.
3. You need to study...
College is hard, end of story. Please study in a balanced and efficient manner. If you (like most of us) don't know how to study, make use of the resources out there to help you.
4. Like, a lot
Really though, you are going to want to be in college for more than a semester (lol). Don't miss the mark, you are here for a reason.
5. Some professors are great, others, not so great
Some days life feels super fair, other days it feels like the farthest thing from it. Be humble and respectful but also remember that not every professor is the best and you should be confident enough in yourself to fight for the grade you deserve.
6. FOMO (fear of missing out) will TANK your GPA
Once again, balance. I can say it 1000 times but it won't be until the first failing exam grade that you realize how important that balance is. It isn't the last concert, party, or hang out night to ever exist. Take a step back, stay in for a weekend or two, get some sleep, watch some Netflix, or maybe even get ahead on work for the week.
7. Not every Saturday night needs to be poppin'
Repeat entire last advice paragraph except remember that some of the best nights involve popcorn, movies, and your hallmates.
8. It's okay to be homesick
No one will ever ask you to be perfectly happy after uprooting your life and moving to a new home. It's okay to ask your parents to visit for lunch. It's okay to spend hours on the phone with your brother or sister. It's okay to cry. There's no college rulebook.
9. You will feel lonely, at least once, probably way more though
A community is hard. Friends are hard. Girls, especially, are hard. College can be extremely lonely at times. Embrace that loneliness and use it as an opportunity to learn about yourself.
10. You should try to get involved
It seems hard to feel the motivation to get involved after spending the past four years stressing about college applications. College is a chance to develop passions. Get involved in something, and whatever that something is, make it something you care about. The content of your resume will matter more than ever in a few years, start now.
11. Be smart about your schedule
Think less about how late you can stay out on Thursday and more about whether or not it's possible to get a decent grade with a poorly rated professor. Make sure you are setting yourself up for success from the start.
12. Don't overload yourself, even if you think you can
College is a new beast. Start easier and get harder as you learn more about what you're doing and what you want to major in. There is more than enough time to take your gen ed classes. Trying to cram them into one semester is going to near kill you.
13. Be more spontaneous than not
College goes by way faster than you think. Planning every second of every day is a great way to get your work done but not a great way to live your college life. Drive to the beach at 4 am, spend three hours in Waffle House, pull an all-nighter the night before a break. These memories are going to be the ones you value the most.
14. Ask for help the second you need it
Semesters speed by, especially when your class only meets two days a week. It is so easy to get left behind. Oftentimes, your tuition includes tutoring services. You're already paying for the tutors you might as well use them.
15. Don't settle for a small friend group
Try your hardest to branch out from high school. Groups move around a ton in college especially when class schedules change. Becoming entirely devoted to a single group of friends is incredibly hard on your heart, save yourself the struggle, meet some new people every chance you can get.
16. Don't compromise your morals for others.
College is a time of new people and it is way easier than you think to compromise on your morals. It is crucially important that you stay true to your morals and odds are, you'll find those that are most like you and they will become your best friends. College is a time of major independence. Get ahead.
17. Learn to plan, to get ahead, and to prepare
Speaking of getting ahead, time management is the name of the game in college. Spend the extra ten minutes and plan out exactly when you're going to get all of your work done. Procrastinating in college is a dangerous thing, planning ahead can make all of the difference in the world in your grade.
18. Value sleep and learn to nap
The ability to nap is a gift denied to many. Out of all the things you learn in college, the art of getting enough sleep is not one of them. A 30-minute nap in the middle of the day is incredibly useful.
19. Take care of your body
It is SO easy to abuse your body in college. Make a conscious effort to eat well, exercise often, sleep whenever you can, take breaks, pray often, and find time to laugh. Your grades do NOT define you. Your physical and mental health come first 100% of the time.
20. Take pictures and videos of everything
Next thing you know you're sitting in your room, scrolling through pictures and you have less than a week left of freshman year. Take pictures of everything. Your friends will make fun of you but it's almost impossible to remember every great moment.
21. Don't blink
and just like that, you're 1/4 done with college (hopefully). It goes quickly, make it worth while.
Class of 2022, 2023, 2024 and so on, you're going to love college. In the next year, you're going to learn more than you have in all four years of high school combined. Welcome to college 2022, don't blink.