Those of us who are college veterans will never forget our freshman year at college. Some of us may like to forget our freshman year, but in general it is a time filled with anticipation, some anxiety, and wonderful discoveries.
College is a lot different than high school. You may decide to commute from your home to a local campus. Your freshman experience will definitely make an impression on you. Without doubt, though, the most dramatic freshman year is for those living away from home. What can you expect as you head off into the wonderful world of higher education?
The first thing you’ll notice is the workload. It will be heavier and more intense than you ever experienced before. The major challenges of college work are the large volume of reading, the short deadlines, and the writing, writing, writing. A related effect that can be brought on by the workload is doubt, frustration, and possibly loneliness. You’ll be away from the comforts and friendships your home provided for you over the previous years.
On some of those long, seemingly endless nights of studying and writing, it will be only natural for you to long for the good old days. Hang in there. These down periods will pass. Whatever you do, don’t make major decisions about your major, your courses, or even your roommate during one of these blue periods. Things always look better in the morning.
You’ll be making a lot of new friends. Continue to be yourself. Don’t strike a pose or play the role of someone you’re not. Select your friends with the same care and patience you have always used. Believe it or not, your college friendships will be among the most satisfying and long-term of your life. It’s always exciting to discover how wonderfully diverse college relationships can be.
You’ll also be on your own, your own boss (more or less) 24 hours a day. Be careful here. Don’t go flying off the end of the pier. Enjoy your newfound freedom. Stay up until dawn talking about your ideals and ambitions with your dorm’s regular bull session buddies. Sleep in until the afternoon on a light class day. Explore the local town or suburbs with one or two of your new friends. Remember, though, with freedom comes responsibility. Even though your parents won’t be around to follow up on your loose ends, you shouldn’t let things go completely. Just find your own style.
You may even start to think about your future. Be on the lookout for role models. Maybe a certain professor is especially inspiring. Perhaps your school has some ground-breaking research going on. Be sensitive to your own gravity. If some area of study attracts you, find out all you can about it. It might be the beginning of your self-definition process. Going to college is as much about finding out who you really are as it is about getting that degree.
As my freshman year is coming to a close at IU, I’m struck with complete disbelief.
I can’t believe my first year in the magical land of college is over. As much of a cliché as it is, it feels like only yesterday I said goodbye to my parents, sat down on my bed and sighed.
I had no idea what I was doing.
I remember the moment they left I thought to myself, “Now what?”
I knew some people from my high school, but I was all alone on a floor of girls I didn’t know, living with a girl I didn’t know and absolutely nothing to do with myself.
Looking back, I realize that I’m probably never going to have that feeling ever again. Next year I’m living with three amazing girls I met in an on-campus apartment.
Next year I won’t be all alone, I’ll be surrounded by people and I probably will be after college and for the rest of my life and I honestly can’t believe it.
Lesson 1: Cherish every moment
Cherish every second you have on campus, especially your freshman year. The first year of college is actually a “year of firsts.”
First time living on your own, first time having a roommate other than your family, first time trying to figure out how to live without a full-sized fridge.
Some moments will really suck. You’ll be driven to tears from stress, horrible days and horrible people. The semester will feel never-ending and like things are just crumbling around you.
Some moments will be the best of your life. You’ll laugh so hard your freshman fifteen abs will ache. You’ll smile as you meet new people and find awesome friends. You’ll do a little dance in the hallway when you get an A on that really hard test.
No matter what, every moment counts and you only get so many.
Lesson 2: Work hard. You’re here for a reason.
This is the lesson that no one wants to hear, but I couldn’t have seen it unfold horribly so many times on campus.
Do not get caught up in all of the parties, friends and happenings on campus.
You are there for one reason: to get a degree. Don’t forget you are paying for those classes you are skipping.
I know it’s fun, but there has to be time to focus too. Trust me, there’s time for both.
Lesson 3: Do everything you can.
I know I was just saying that there is time for both, but college is also only four years.
Please don’t miss out any opportunities because you were too scared, lazy or shy.
Please join the intramural soccer team, the school newspaper and the rock-climbing club. Do whatever you want and whatever you find fun.
It doesn’t matter if your friends are doing it. This is the number one thing I struggled with in both high school and college.
I was just too scared to do things by myself. I improved in college, but I still have a long way to go.
Don’t miss out. Joining something you don’t anyone from is the number one way to make friends.
Though the next lesson is a cliché, it’s still incredibly important to your college experience:
Lesson 4: Have fun.
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