Ah, Freshman year. Two semesters full of new friends, drunk nights, and the dreaded Freshman Fifteen.
I don’t have older siblings, so I really didn’t know exactly what to expect coming into my Freshman year. So, here are the 10 things I wish someone had told me before I was shipped off to school:
1) This isn’t high school anymore
No matter how big or small your college is, chances are, you will not ever know or even recognize all of the faces you see on campus. Although it can be scary at first, think of this as an opportunity to make several groups of friends and to be your own independent person. You are no longer defined by where you sit at lunch, or whose parties you go to. You are defined by what you do, and who you choose to do it with can help open your eyes to new experiences.
Take the time to get to know as many people as you can in your Freshman year. The dorms are social and constantly buzzing with activity. Don’t get locked into one group of friends just because you are scared to leave your comfort zone. Go to parties, join study groups, talk to your neighbor in class, attend any activity that interests you even if none of your friends have any desire to go with you. Freshman year is a new beginning where you can be as bold as you want to be, so start by talking to anyone and everyone who interests you.
2) Make sure every professor knows your name
Whether you’re in a lecture with 299 other people, or you’re in a small discussion with 20 people, make sure your teacher knows your name. Attend office hours, even if you think you know the material in and out. Professors and TAs will not only be deciding on your final grade, but they will be the people writing your recommendations in the future, so make sure you have an impact on each one of them.
3) College is 4 years for you to do whatever your heart desires
You’re parentless, and for the most part, there’s no authority figure watching over you day in and day out. Whether it’s trying a new class, bringing boys back to your room, finding a new hobby or passion, attending sports events, or drinking at parties, you have the opportunity to do many things that may have not flown at home. Try everything that entices you (in a positive way), but, remember that there are consequences to every action, even if your parents aren’t around.
4) Stay true to yourself
With the college environment that often includes binge drinking and hooking up, it’s easy to get lost in the college stereotype. Make sure everything you choose to do is because you want to do it, not because you feel obligated to fit the mold.
5) Keep in touch with your friends from high school
Although your expectations of college may make you feel like you’re about to grow out of your high school friends and relationships, there’s a huge chance that they won’t. Remember that your during your first few weeks at school, you won’t know who around you is going to turn out to be a great friend who’ll leave a party with you if you’re unhappy or a friend who could care less about anyone but themselves. You may not necessarily feel instantly comfortable venting to them, or they may not understand your past and how it affects you in the present.
On the other hand, your friends from high school have probably known you for several years, and you’ve already determined who’s a good friend and who’s not. High school friends can be a huge support system during school, especially since they’re going through the same thing you are, plus, you’ll be home for vacations where you’ll want to see them, so try to keep in touch with them.
6) Your long distance relationship probably isn’t going to work
I hate to put down all long distance relationships, which is why I say it probably won’t work. The truth is, Freshman year for both guys and girls is full of temptation, and you may even meet someone who you see yourself being with as more than just friends. Having a boyfriend at home holds you back from experiencing everything you want, and if it doesn’t, then someone is probably being hurt on the other end. Although there are cases where a relationship, or an open relationship, works out, it may be easier to spare yourself the inevitable fights and jealousy by ending a romance on a good note before school starts.
7) You can avoid the Freshman Fifteen
Why would anyone want to gain 15 pounds as they met new people, and probably just invested in a great new college wardrobe? Skip the late night snacking, always make time to work out, keep healthy snack options in your room, and don’t use Freshman year as an excuse to eat whatever is put in front of you, and you can avoid the Freshman Fifteen. (Pssst, liquor has fewer calories than beer!)
8) Keep everything organized
Finals for classes are often cumulative, and draw upon the notes and worksheets you had for the entire semester, so make sure to keep all of your work organized throughout the entire semester.
9) Transferring is always an option (and it’s not the worst thing that can happen)
Take it from a transfer student, transferring is annoying and time consuming, but if you’re unhappy in the school you originally chose, it can make all the difference. Don’t waste time in an environment that you’re truly not happy in. Tell your parents as soon as you know that the college you’re attending isn’t for you, and discuss the options. Don’t be afraid to switch schools because it’s scary and another application process! It will be totally worth it when you find somewhere where you feel content, comfortable and completely happy.
10) Don’t settle for anything less than the time of your life!
College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, so let it be! Don’t waste time, take control of your destiny, become friends with whoever you want to become friends with, date whoever makes you happy, take the classes that interest you. Be a little selfish from time to time if it means you’re going to walk away from Freshman year and the college experience feeling like you did everything. Make memories, take pictures, and enjoy every last moment, because each year flies faster than the next!
What do you think?
Where will you be attending school this fall? Is it your Freshman year? What are you most nervous about? What gets you the most excited? Let us know in a comment!