I want to start by saying that if you are a freshman this year, I am proud of you. I was a freshman just last year, and I can’t imagine facing my first year of college during a pandemic, let alone graduating high school during one. But on the bright side, you’ve made it this far, and I can’t imagine that this semester could be any harder than 2020 has already been. So without further ado, here is my advice to you.
- Your Suitemates Can Be Your Built-In Family, If You Let Them.
If you’re anything like I was as a freshman, you’re wondering what making friends will be like in college. Of course, you have the added stress of social distancing, mask-wearing, and staying COVID-free, but that doesn’t mean you have to be lonely this semester. Suitemates are your friends. I was lucky enough last year to live with not only my best friend as a roommate but some of the sweetest girls two doors down. We raved about how we were sure it was a match made in heaven that we were all put in the same suite. We had movie and pizza nights, went out together, and were a shoulder to lean on for each other when any of us needed one. I can’t promise you that you’ll get as lucky as I did (haha), but I can honestly say that by putting in a little effort, you could find out that some of your soon-to-be closest friends on campus are right next door.
- Get Outside.
I’d have to say that this one just might be the most important thing to remember: Get. Outside. I know I’m not the only one with just about every one of my classes switched to online. Let me tell you, the Zoom hours add up! Do yourself a real favor and switch up your scenery every once in a while. Go to the park to study. Reserve a study room in the library with a friend. Do your required readings in a coffee shop! On a campus as gorgeous as ours, the options are endless. Remember to soak up some vitamin D; your brain and body will thank you. And come on, you’re a freshman! Go explore everything that our favorite city has to offer!
- Keep A Clean Dorm.
This one might just be a me thing as well, but given the circumstances of this semester, I’ve decided that it should be an everyone thing. With all the indoor time we’ll be getting in the next couple of months, it’s important that your classroom away from the classroom is a space that allows you and your grades to flourish. This means clean and quiet. I realize that your schedule is crazy, but I promise you that putting aside just one day to clean your dorm for the week ahead is going to be a lifesaver for your mental health. I don’t mean keeping it picture-perfect at all times, but imagine a typical classroom in high school. Would you be able to concentrate in class if the room was covered in dirty clothes and smelt like trash that hadn’t been taken out in a week? Your dorm is not only where you’ll be learning, it’s where you’ll be living. You should treat it accordingly.
- Know Your Resources.
This semester is going to be a big adjustment for you. Whether you face homesickness or trouble managing stress from juggling your new schedule, it will be immensely helpful to know the mental health resources that are available to you on campus.
Students 4 Support is a group of CofC student volunteers that provide peer counseling via texting from 12 PM to 9 PM on Mondays through Thursdays. If you need someone to talk things out with, S4S is here to help and just a text away. Text “4Support" to 839863.
If you are looking for counseling with a licensed therapist, the Counseling Center on campus provides counseling for several mental health issues, from depression to anxiety, free of charge to students. You can make an online appointment here.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Phone a Friend (Or Family Member).
Finally, it’s important that you know that you don’t have to be afraid to lean on the people that love you while you adjust to life on campus. Make time to talk to family and friends back home to remind yourself that you have people in your corner and that you are never ever alone. Facetime and Skype are your best friends to stay connected even when you feel far away. Remember, it's okay to ask for help! That's what friends and family are for. And I promise, it isn't a sign of weakness to know when to ask for help, it's the bravest thing you can do!
Freshman year can be tough, but you are most definitely tougher. Now get excited! Your next four years at CofC are ahead of you, and there’s so much you will do. I’m rooting for you. Let's go Class of 2024!