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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started College

To all the freshman reading this, I just want to say I’m sorry in advance. I know this is probably the 84,000th “What to Expect When…” type list of what to do to prepare for college. But pay attention, because right now it’s all fun and sticky frat floors, but once November hits and you’re crying in the middle of the library in front of your MacBook, you’ll want to refer to this. If you’re not a freshman, this could probably still help you, because I wish I had someone yelling these things in my ear every day and I’m a junior.​

1. It’s okay if you don’t love college right away 

This one was something I really, really, REALLY wish someone told me when I was moving into my 8 x 11 on-campus cubicle (a dorm, if you will). I remember my senior year of high school, scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and seeing all the fun my older friends were having in college. I saw nothing but VSCO-edited photos of girls in cute mini-skirts and white Adidas living it up on Saturday morning game days. I longed to be one of those girls, to post one of those pictures, to get hundreds of likes on a candid-looking photo of me and my roommate who would (hopefully!) become my best friend. Sadly, however, it took me a while to take a photo that was deserving of my mindless C-1 edit. To be honest, I’m not good with change. It took me the entirety of my first fall semester to adjust to college life and allow myself time to make friends before I realized how much I loved my new school. If you’re an Adidas-wearing, Instagram poster on game day mornings type girl, all the power to you. I just wish someone had told me it was completely acceptable (and totally normal) to not love school right away as I had seen.

2. Buy a f***ing planner and STICK TO IT

Please, people. For the love of your GPA. I know you thought you could stay on top of everything in high school. And maybe you could. But in college, you need a planner. Not just for school – for club meetings, interviews; even a Tinder date needs to be penciled in. You will thank me (and your future organized self) later.

3. It’s alright if you don’t want to go out every single weekend

This one may be more of a personal reflection, but I know as a freshman I felt an immense pressure to take advantage of every single opportunity there was to go out and get dr*nk. If my friends were going out on a Wednesday, I felt like I absolutely had to go or else I was I was missing out on the most fun I would ever have in my life. They’ve invented an acronym for this – FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and it’s real! I remember trying to think of excuses as to why I couldn’t go out when really, I just wanted to stay in because it felt good to have some time to myself. Don’t let the pressures of everyone else going out get to you. You have three more years of going out to partake in. One or two nights of alone time might actually do you some good!

4. The Freshman 15 (or 20 or 25) is very real and that is A-OK

Oh goodness. Everyone and I mean everyone gains weight in college. Think about it logically – you’re not at home anymore with a regulated eating schedule. You can literally eat whatever you want (as far as the dining hall horizon permits) whenever you want. Mac and cheese at 3 a.m.? Sure! Taco Bell run with your roommate midday? Why not?! At first, I tried to fight this weight gain so hard: “I won’t be like them,” I’d say, “I’m going to work out every day and watch my eating!” HA. Don’t get me wrong, working out regularly and having somewhat of a healthy diet is totally acceptable and encouraged, but gaining a little bit of weight is totally normal. Do you think every person stays the exact same weight as they were when they were 18? No. Let yourself live a little.

5. Be patient and be true to yourself

Yes, this one is super vague, and yes, you’ve heard it a gazillion times, but it’s probably one of the most valuable things I have learned since I started my freshman year. Let’s unpack number five, shall we? First, be patient. By that, I mean wait for yourself. Allow yourself room to grow and change. The person you thought you were going to marry when you were 17 is probably not the same person you’ll want to be with at 19, or even 20. Does it suck? Yeah, it probably does. But guess what? You’re changing. You’re growing. You’re figuring out what you like and dislike, not only in a partner, but in friends, your major, and life in general! It’s probably going to take a lot of time to figure out what you want. And that’s okay. That’s what college is for! And you’ll still be doing lots of figuring out long after college is over. Second, be true to yourself. Figure out what you believe in and stick to it. No matter how much sh*t you get. No matter who decides to leave your life. Be true to yourself. Be proud of what you believe in and fight for it. You may lose some friends along the way, but I promise you will have a whole community of others who will support you and stand by you no matter what.

So freshmen, (and other friends reading this), I know as you read this now you’re probably thinking ‘whatever, I’ve only been told this same thing 84,000 times.’ But when you’re sitting in the library in November wiping away your tears with your sweatshirt sleeve hoping no one will see you, you’re sad because you just failed your first test, your friends are mad at you or whatever it may be, open up this article. Remind yourself it’s going to get better because it always does. You’ve got this, and well, even if you don’t, online shopping and Ben & Jerry’s will always be there.

Emma Saks

Cincinnati '20

Soft smile ~kween~ with a passion for writing, reading Harry Potter, and binging Broad City.
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