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Making the Most of Your College Experience

I remember my freshmen orientation like it was just last semester. The seniors told us to soak up every moment of our college experience before we blinked, and it was gone. I tried to follow that advice, but here I am, four years and one blink later, looking back on a lot of memories that I wish I could have bottled and saved. I could give the same advice to younger students, but I doubt that it would work. It didn’t for me! However, I thought I would share some things that I wish someone would have told me when I first started college that can actually make a difference throughout your journey.  

1. Just Go!

Whether it’s a school-sanctioned event, like a concert or a football game or a plan with friends, if you are torn between attending or avoiding something, take the leap. My roommates invited me to go line-dancing with them during my first semester at Cal Lutheran, and because I was worried that I would look stupid for not knowing any of the dances, I turned them down. I still regret it. Know that you can always leave if you aren’t having a good time, but never just assume that you won’t have a good time; go find out for yourself.

2. You Aren't a Loser if You're Alone

This pertains to tip 1 as well. If you don’t want to go somewhere because you'll be alone and you think people will judge you, throw that thought out of the window. Going places by yourself is how you meet people. It took me a while to start sitting at games, plays, or even the caf all by myself, but once I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found that no one judged me at all. Even as an introvert, I found that I was never really alone at all and I met a lot of people by just asking, “Do you guys mind if I sit with you?”

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3. Be You

This builds off of the last two tips. If you ever think that people will judge you, remember this: everyone else is too worried about other people judging them to judge you! If you want to go somewhere alone, wear a wild pair of shoes, or take a nap in the quad – the worst you’ll get is a double-take. Trust me, if you’re not comfortable in your own skin, college is not a fun experience. Embrace who you are and don’t be afraid to show it.

4. Try Everything Once

If it’s a club, an event, or intramurals, you should try it once. Don’t like it? Don’t go back. But you’ll never know what you missed if you never took the shot. I never would have been a part of Her Campus if I hadn’t convinced myself to make one trip around the club fair on the spine.

5. Always Pack a Snack

A straightforward rule that applies to life. You never know when you'll need it.

6. Office Hours Aren't Scary

I was terrified to go in and ask my professors questions, but I’m glad I did because I actually created a relationship with them. I went to talk to my chemistry professor about a conversion question during his office hours and found out that he was planning the Dungeons and Dragons campaign, so believe me when I say that you want to take advantage of that time. Your professors don’t get to know you well during class, so if you go see them during office hours, they become people, not just instructors.

7. Use Your Resources

    Mental and physical health services (as well as tutors!) are provided for you on campus. If you’re having trouble with anything, you are entitled to use these resources and not feel embarrassed, fragile, or bothersome. You are paying for those services with your tuition, so don’t let them go to waste!

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    If there’s one thing to take away from these tips, it’s that you shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself out there. College is the perfect time to learn who you are and what you want all while having a “safety net.” Everyone else is just as unsure about this journey as you are, and if you let uncertainty overtake you, you won’t be able to appreciate what’s happening around you. Enjoy the ride and truly take it in before it’s in the rearview mirror.

    Alea Lehr

    Cal Lutheran '21

    A Biology major with a love for anything and everything in the ocean! Any time away from examining coral structures, wading through streams, looking at cells, or grappling immunohistofluorescence is spent reading, writing, and baking. (She has the best banana bread recipe) Though she mostly composes scientific papers, creative writing is her true passion, and when she isn't coming up with an article, she's jotting down ideas for novels. During a bad case of writer's block, she tries to find inspiration by talking to her best friend, and dog, Bear.
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