By Kendall Knaak
Freshman year is essentially the refrain to Taylor Swift’s song “22” – you will feel happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. And that’s OK! But from one college student to another, there are some things I picked up my freshman year of college:
- Do not be afraid of being sad. The first night I was in my dorm room, I absolutely fell apart on my bedroom floor. I’m talking hyperventilating tears, irrational sadness – the whole shebang. I called my mom even and begged her to pick me up. I was so confused because I was so excited for college to begin, but I realized that it was a change too. I hope it is better for you, but if you are feeling emotional then you are NOT alone. I promise. Go to sleep, and I promise everything will look brighter in the morning.
- Be yourself. In high school there is so much pressure to do the right things and do the popular thing. The best thing about college, is that no one judges you anymore (for the most part). Join the clubs and be friends with the people that are what you want to do, and bring out the best sides of you.
- Get involved. Building off of tip #2, join the clubs or sports teams that interest you. Go to that first involvement fair during orientation and sign up for everything! But, do not overextend yourself. College is a different ballgame, and I would recommend fully committing yourself to no more than 3 extracurricular activities.
- Call your mom. If you lucky to have a great mom or reliable person who wants nothing but the best for you – take advantage of it. Get their input, catch up and keep them updated – sometimes you may feel alone, but know that you never are.
- Take risks. I am not talking about jumping off the roof of the frat house, but push yourself to do something that you maybe always wanted to try but never had the guts. The best things that happened to me in college were when I did something that I wanted to try and succeeded – applied for a board position at school where I got to go to an exclusive lunch and meet Oprah, go to LA for a week and figure out that is what I wanted to do post-grad, etc.
- Never ever ever ever leave your drink unattended at a party. First, if you choose not to drink at school, do not feel like you will be judged. At a party, no one is going to be able to tell if you are drinking Coke or alcohol – that is beauty of a solo cup. But, if you choose to drink, be smart with it. Remember that you are in unfamiliar places with people you haven’t known your whole life. Never accept a cup from someone if you didn’t see the drink poured.
- Nothing good happens after 2 a.m. I think that one speaks for itself.
- Keep organized. One of the biggest changes between HS and college is that in college your professor is not going to call you or email you if they don’t get a paper or assignment. They will just give you a 0. On your first day (commonly known as syllabus week) they will give you a packet with the date of every single homework assignment through the rest of the semester. Write it down in your planner, and plan it out. I have had some crazy projects, and thankfully have never had to pull an all-nighter because I always have everything written down. Also, if you are looking for a great planner, try bando.com – I am a religious user of their planner! Also, rent any textbook you can! I PROMISE there will be maybe one textbook you will want to own from your major – you do not need to buy that $250 calculus book! You can rent textbooks at Amazon (you get prime free for 6 months!!) or Chegg. The bookstore will rob you blind!
- It is 150% ok to change your major (or even your school). You are 18 years old. As much pressure that is on you, know that you are not expected to have everything laid out. See what piques your interest – better yet, use your gen eds to explore different things you may not have thought before. You are never ever stuck. Especially during freshman year!
- Watch Gilmore Girls. My roommate and I created a system of watching GG together anytime we got stressed out. It felt like coming home, as we watched it for the first time with our moms and friends, and was an instant destresser. Rory and Lorelai will have the answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.