No, I’m not going to prattle off 89 points about everything necessary to know about freshman year — you’re smart and I’m sure you’ll adjust just fine. That being said, I do have a short list of advice that you should probably (but definitely) keep on the back burner as you embark on this year of firsts:
- Keep your door (and mind) open: Use this as a nifty little reminder to try new things and meet as many people as you can. There are more students who live on your floor than your roommates. You’d be surprised how many people you can stumble on from just propping open your door. Once you start familiarizing your welcoming self with those around you, it will open doors to conversations and possible friendships. (HINT: I found some of my best friends this way, so do it.) Likewise, keep an open mind. Be willing to try new clubs, new foods, new ideas. What you do with it all is up to you, but don’t limit your options.
- Take the initiative: To piggy-back off that last point, make sure you give yourself all the help you can. That means reaching out to the girl you were just introduced to, knocking on your neighbor’s door, signing up for that club that interested you, and GOING TO CLASS (where have you heard that before?). Even if some of these might scare you — or you just don’t want to do them — once you start taking action your confidence and success will grow.
- Don’t get caught up on the “perfect” college experience: You know that phrase that everybody and their mother has told you: “College is the best 4 years of your life!” Don’t worry if that isn’t the case every single second. College will play host to some of your more memorable and fun experiences, but college is also a huge transition and can be tough. So if you’re feeling a little stressed or homesick, if you’re not doing exactly what your friends on Instagram are doing, try to remember that everybody’s experience is different and that is OK. There are too many other things to stress about; don’t let a mythical Cinderella experience be one of them.
- Don’t rush in declaring your major: Smack dab on the first day of school, already you’re probably bombarded with deciding a major and, consequently, your entire college future. Remember how you just graduated high school and now have an entire new world to adjust to? Yeah, spend your energy on enjoying this new experience. Nobody knows exactly how they want to spend their lives, let alone college freshman. The beauty of freshman year classes is that they give you time to explore. So take a month or 12 to figure things out. You have a plenty of time.
- Expect the unexpected: If I had to sum up my freshman year in one phrase, it would definitely be this: The preconceived dream of what your first year will be like will most likely change, so go with the flow. The best parts of my freshman year were all things that I never originally planned, but that’s because they turned out so much better than I expected. And anyway, who doesn’t love some spontaneity and surprise in their lives?
All of this aside, remember that the most important part of college is YOU. I know you have 549+ things you want to accomplish this year, but take everything step by step and allow yourself a break when you need it. College won’t be nearly as rewarding if you’re not awake and healthy to experience it. I know you’ll be great — just take care of yourself and have a rockin’ time.