I’ve been talking to a lot of incoming freshman who are scared, confused, and nervous about school starting in a few weeks. So I decided to share a little bit of advice of things I learned my freshman year that I wish someone told me earlier.
1. Worries from home don’t automatically just go away because you left
Literally every freshman, or person leaving home for the first time thinks this. The fight you got in with your friend wont matter because you’re leaving, the argument you and your mom have daily won’t matter. Nothing will matter because you’re starting over. And in part this is true because you get to choose your battles more carefully, but at the same time, leaving home for the first time and going to school makes you confront all of your worries head on and makes you deal with them. Be ready to deal with them. Because your arguments with your friends from home will still be there when you’re a thousand miles away from each other, they will probably get worse. Your ex boyfriend will not stop being on your mind just because you don’t see him every day- at least not right away. It gets better, but the mindset that everything just suddenly doesn’t matter isn’t true. Everything still exists. And you will still worry about it. College isn’t a magical time zone that causes you to forget literally everything that has happened in the last 18 years of your life and be completely carefree the second you step on campus. But it does offer new beginnings.
2. If you join a sorority of fraternity don’t just do it because of the reputation or the letters
Honestly, the best piece of advice I can give anyone going greek comes from the movie “Sorority Wars” it sounds cheesy but it is oh so true.. “Look around at what the people there stand for, because soon you’re going to stand for it too.” Or something like that, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen that movie. If the most important thing to you is whether the sorority you get into parties with the best frat, has the reputation for the hottest girls, and gets the drunkest on saturday nights.. Then that’s the sorority you’re going to be in. If what’s important to you is the sisterhood, the philanthropy, and whether or not you see yourself becoming friends with the girls. Then that’s the sorority you’re going to be in. Whats important in choosing where you’re going to spend the rest of your life is truly the feeling you get when talking to the other girls. If you can’t see yourself having a conversation with them at 3am crying over cat videos and whether or not Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are still together, or driving around blasting Luke Bryan at the top of your lungs at 3 in the afternoon, or making vines of you twerking on random buildings around campus. Then those may not be the girls for you. Choose where you feel comfortable, and where you see yourself belonging. Not where the the letters seem the coolest or the ones that have the best reputation on campus. Letters are more than just Greek, and reputations can be changed. The friendships you make last forever.
3. Please actually have to go to class, study, and learn things
Seriously. Go. Pay attention, take notes and listen to every word your professor is saying because I promise you it will be on the exam. Not every class is like this, but those that are are the ones that can make a difference between your 4.0 and your 3.5 or your 3.5 and your 3.0. No one wants to explain to their parents that literally the only reason why they didn’t do as well as they thought they would freshman year is because they couldn’t make themselves get out of bed on a friday morning to go to their 9:30am class. Yes, it sucks, yes it will kill you, and yes you will skip some days. But wake up, go to class. And next semester don’t torture yourself with that class if you’re not a morning person. And besides just going to class, you will have to actually study. Take it from the girl who slept through AP english junior and senior year and somehow graduated with almost a 4.0. You will have to learn things you have never wanted to learn in your life, and you will have to study to pass classes. Take it from me that Basic Econ kicked my ass last semester. Like, kicked it to the moon and back but I got a B. With lots of studying, a few all nighters, and some help from my tutor.
4. You will go out on school nights and do other things you said you wouldn’t
Going into freshman year I swore I would never go out on a school night, or get super drunk, or drunkenly kiss a guy I have never met before. And I’m pretty sure I did all three of those things within the first month of school and more. You don’t have to, people won’t make fun of you if you don’t go out, people won’t make fun of you if you don’t drink, and they won’t laugh at you for staying in and watching Netflix. Everyone has those days. But I promise you, you will kick yourself if you don’t go out at least a few times, see whats out there and meet new people. If you drink, have a few nights you don’t remember. But learn your limit, and stick to it- first semester of freshman year is only an excuse for so long. But have fun. Some of my best memories from freshman year include me breaking literally every single rule I set for myself before I left. Thirsty Thursday is a real thing, and it is real fun. Yes, you will still have class friday morning. But sometimes the memories you make are just as important as the class you half sleep through the next morning.
5. Talk to the people that sit next to you in class, you never know who you’ll meet
I sat through my entire math class first semester of freshman year 3 days a week for an hour and didn’t speak to a single person the entire time. I don’t think you understand how amazing that is for me- or how boring that class was. I dreaded going to class. I realize looking back that it was 10000% my fault, I didn’t try to talk to anyone, or get to know a single soul. I loved all of my other classes because I talked to the people around me, and got to meet so many people. On a campus as large as mine, it’s amazing how many times a day you can say hi to people you pass on the way to class, simply by getting to know them during class. And they may get you places on campus that you never realized you could go. For example, the kid who sat next to me in my journalism class first semester was suitemates with the first kid I dated on campus. Sure Jeff was an asshole and I can’t believe I even wasted the time I did on him, but I wouldn’t have met him without Jeremy. For example again, the girl who I became amazing friends with from my Theatre Lecture class helped me get into student government when I was running for it because she knew a lot of people on the committee. Talking to the people around you in class can help the campus feel smaller, can help you meet more people, can help you pass the class (study groups are a real thing, and really helpful) and can make going to class more enjoyable. It may seem like a really obvious piece of advice, but you have no idea how many people go through an entire semester not speaking to a single soul around them.
PS: For girls going into greek life, the guys in your classes are also a great place to scour for dates to those awkward first few functions before you know many people! Trust me!
6.Homesickness if real, you will get homesick, beg your dad/mom to let you drive home, and cry because you miss your dog
I was literally the girl who could NOT wait to get out of Missouri for college, to go as far away as I possibly could and never look back. I swore up and down that I would not be homesick and that I wouldn’t ever want to come home because I was an independent person who didn’t need my parents as much as they thought that I needed them. Oh my gosh was I wrong. I called my dad and mom crying so many times first semester it is not even funny, I threatened to transfer schools, drop out, come home, etc etc. As much as you say you aren’t going to miss your parents, the second they aren’t the people you see when you come home every night- it becomes reality that you really are on your own. I honestly can’t explain what it is but it happens. You miss your bed, you miss your moms nagging, and you miss the $50 your dad would give you if your pouted your lip and asked nicely. You miss everything. Even the shitty traffic from downtown to your house. It’s crazy and it’s unexplainable, but I promise you it gets easier. If you can make it through your first semester and get comfortable, it gets so much easier. You get into a routine, you find the right balance between going home to see your parents, and having fun with your friends on campus. You also begin to realize the family you’re forming around you on campus, and the homesickness gets easier. But it’s okay to miss home. Just realize that being away is a part of growing up, and don’t give up on being away just because it’s hard. It’ll make you a stronger person.
7. You will meet the people you will call your best friends for the rest of your life
I hate people. Seriously, they annoy me. Girls are too catty, too dramatic and care way too much about what other people think of them. Guys smell, don’t say enough and don’t like to watch stupid TV and music videos with me. I’ve always had friends- don’t get me wrong. But I am definitely the type of person who has to have my alone time to survive, and cannot spend excessive amounts of time around the same person. Yep, thats what I thought at least. I met a million people my freshman year, and that’s probably not an exaggeration. I’ve met girls I call to go out on Friday night, guys I call to pick me up when I don’t want to walk anywhere on Friday night, girls to call to go out for sushi on a Tuesday because I don’t feel like studying, guys I call to come over and make me laugh when I want to punch a hole in the wall, and people I honestly wouldn’t replace for the world. But on top of all of that, I met my best friends. The girls who are going to be my bridesmaids at my wedding and who I can spend every waking moment around and not want to kill them. These are the girls who bought me a chocolate cake when my boyfriend broke up with me, send me stupid pictures throughout the day, watch ESPN strong man competitions with me and sing loudly into the steering wheel in the middle of nowhere. These are also the girls who I can sit down in a room with and just be quiet, and it’s like we’ve had an entire conversation. Yes, your high school friends are important. But the friends you make (and keep) in college are the ones who will be there for the rest of your life. I promise you.
8. Money does not grow on trees, bushes, or out of magic spells
Get a job, a sugar daddy, or beg your parents for an allowance. Sure, you have your rent, school and meal plan paid for. But other things come up. And I promise you, the thousand dollars you have in your checking account saved up for freshman year will not last you nearly as long as you thought it would. From late night trips to Wal Mart, to the latest movies, to that super cute pair of heels you found on sale at the mall that you just had to have- it goes fast. Take it from the girl that overdrafted her account the first 3 months of school. No my parents were not happy, but yes- I lived. Living on your own, you will learn more about money management than you ever wanted to know. Because yes, the $.25 ramen noodles taste exactly the same as the $.75 ones, and splurging on the good lunch meat, bread and milk is actually important. The best advice I can give you is figure out what is important to you, set a budget and stick to it. You will probably blow it once or twice. But life is live and learn. I promise you after $60 worth of overdraft fees you probably won’t do it again. Freshman year will teach you the value of a dollar, based on exactly what you can get out of it, how far it will stretch and how hard it is to find. You will also learn the cheapest thing on the Taco Bell menu, the easiest way to earn money on and around campus, and exactly how to extract money from your frugal fathers wallet. If you already know how to manage your money, kudos to you. But i didn’t and I sure as hell did learn.
9. The future is the scariest thing you will ever think about
You’re in college, finally you’re out of your parents house and on your own and on your way to becoming whatever you want to be. Wait, what do you want to be exactly? Even the people most set in their majors who come in swearing they will not change their major will wonder if they chose the right major at least once, take a class that makes them wonder exactly what they want to do with the rest of their life. And panic because college is hard and they would rather drop out and become a stripper. I promise. It will happen. Most college students at one time or another would rather just be a stripper or a hobo because homework is hard, teachers are mean, the future is only bright when you think about the tequila shots you will be downing on friday night. I want to be a lawyer, and I have found myself wondering a million times this past year if I really want to major in Poli Sci, if I really want to go to law school, what I want to do with my law degree, if I’m smart enough to get into law school, if I can even graduate college, if the LSAT is really that hard, and lastly, I wonder why I am torturing myself by being so ambitious. But at the end of the day, no matter how much you doubt yourself, you will end up where you are meant to be. You may not take the road you thought you would to get there. But the future is bright beyond friday night, because even when you hate your major, and you have no idea what you want to do with your future- you have a future and that is what is important. You’ll figure it out. But worrying about it is scary, and completely normal. Unfortunately.
10. Freshman year will change and shape you, and that is 100% okay
Everyone worries about “becoming someone different” in college and “wanting to stay true to themselves.” At least thats what I’ve had literally 5 different incoming freshman tell me in the past 48 hours… Look, you will change. You will realize who you really are, put up with less shit, make truer friends, and put yourself first. You will become more self reliant, more determined, stronger, and more vulnerable all in one. You will have experiences- both good and bad- that will change you for the rest of your life. That’s what college is. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to fuck up, to do something that the person you were in high school wouldn’t do. Life isn’t about finding out who you are, it’s about creating yourself. By going to college you’re being given one of the greatest opportunities of a lifetime, take it by the horns, enjoy yourself and you will change by consequence. You will grow up, because face it. That’s exactly what you’re doing. It’s terrifying and some days you will want to curl up and watch disney movies and color and pretend you’re 4 again. But reality will hit you, you’re 18, 19, 20 years old and older. You’re growing up, and becoming exactly who you’re supposed to be. Don’t fight it, embrace it- and be happy with it.
I know this was the cheesiest post I have ever made. But it’s all true. Every bit of it. College has changed my life, and all of these were things I learned freshman year. I wouldn’t change it for the world.