First off you need to know that your parents are freaking out right now that their babies are leaving home for the first time. Know that this is a hard time for them so be patient and kind with your parents the next few weeks…they are not trying to hold you back…they just don’t want to see you go…love them! (that may have been a personal plea to my own kids 🙂 ).
Next I will say that freshman year in college had to be the most fun year of life so get excited because this is going to be awesome! This upcoming year of your life is going to be amazing. You will grow so much as a person this year it will blow your mind. You will make incredible new friends this year, many of which will last a lifetime. You will fall in and out of love (or what you think is love) a million times this year…embrace it! This year is the start of your adult life…OWN IT!
Now here are just a few words of advice that I would have given to myself if I could have let my current self who has learned many life lessons, talk to my past self the year I was starting college:
College is not high school. There are no cliques of the cool kids and the jocks and the nerds. College is not like that. And no one in college could care less about how cool or uncool you were back in high school. It means absolutely nothing as you enter college. In college you don’t have to fit into a defined box. You don’t have to be just one thing. You can be everything and anything you want. Remember that.
Know that college is about tons and tons of young adults all on their own for the first time. They are all scared to death and excited at the same time. Everyone is hoping to find friends and find their classroom, you are all in the very same boat. You can be friends with everyone and anyone. Don’t limit yourself. Make as many friends as possible. Don’t be shy to talk to people you don’t know. Remember that they are as scared as you are and they will be grateful to have anyone say hello to them, so don’t hold back, talk to everyone.
Treat school like it’s your job. Show up on time. Be Accountable. Work Hard. Turn your work in on time. Make sure when you do your homework that you do it so well that you can feel proud to put your name on it, because your name WILL be on it!
“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”
You need to set rules for yourself in advance that will force yourself to balance your time each day. There will be something fun going on at all times and in all places in college. There is always a million parties and a million get togethers and when you first get to college you start to panic that you don’t want to miss out on a single event. But you can’t look at it like that or you will be out playing 24×7 and you will fail out of school. You seriously have to discipline yourself into setting aside study time, and time to do your homework, and you have to get yourself to bed at a reasonable time. I think this principle is the very hardest to achieve your freshman year. What you need to know is that you don’t have to show up to every party and every event. You couldn’t if you wanted to. And you are not going to miss out on “everything” by not going. Remind yourself that there will be another fun event tomorrow and the next day and the next day and you can go to one of those when you finish your work first. If you screw up your grades freshman year it will pull down your GPA for the rest of college. It is not worth that. So set rules for yourself regarding study time, set a curfew for what time you will get to bed each night, set rules around homework getting done before play starts. You are an adult now and you are going to have to police yourself, but decide in advance what your rules will be because once you start college you will slip into bad habits immediately if you don’t already have your rules in place.
Don’t stress yourself out about picking a major. It’s okay to start college unsure of what you want to do for your career. Deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life is a really big deal, so don’t rush yourself that first year. What’s important is to decide the general direction you want to head and then start down that path. If you find you don’t like it then switch it sooner than later. Part of freshman year is getting exposure to a lot of different fields so you can see which one you gravitate toward. I think one great idea is to start a list of what you see as your God given talents and abilities. Then add to that list the things you love to do, the things that make you happiest. As you put that list together you may start to see patterns of where you will naturally excel in life and that can go a long way toward helping you figure out what major to pursue.
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” -BB King
This year is not just about your education. It is about building your character. Yes you will learn in the classroom, but you will also learn from the life experiences you go through this year. This year is the year you make all your decisions yourself with no parents babysitting your choices. You get to own your choices, but with that comes the fact that you and you alone have to bear the consequences of those choices. Your agency is 100% yours so use it wisely. Make good choices. Do the right thing even when its hard. Learn everything you can because the knowledge you gain will be with you forever. And most of all, value this experience because it will never happen again. Enjoy it!
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela