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What I Wish I Knew Going Into My First Year Of College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

College is a weird time. For some it’s all about having a good time, while for others it’s about finding yourself on a deeper level. Regardless of what actually happens, the build up can be more intense than anything. If you’re like me, you have listened to your parents and extended family talk to you your whole life about all the crazy college stories that usually start with “One time when I was in college…”. While these stories are fun to listen to, they sometimes offer an unrealistic view of what college is actually like. I have always been one to fantasize about my future, especially what I would be like or who I would meet in college. I would watch movies that showed wild parties and intense hangovers and the story of two people finding each other and spending the rest of their lives together after college. While this may happen for some people, I am here to tell you college is not what you think. After attending college for three years now, I feel like I am just now learning how to have a good time. Up until this point, I have felt like a freshman everyday walking around wondering when my true college experience was going to kick in. Not to mention the pandemic has made it a little harder for me, and so many other college students, to feel comfortable on campus. 

Here are some things I wish someone would have told me going into my first year of college:

  • It is ok to say you are not having fun at college
    • Feeling uncomfortable and awkward is part of your growth at college. I remember looking forward to having the true college experience so much that I did not allow myself to validate how I was truly feeling. If you are feeling stressed, feel stressed. If you are feeling homesick, feel homesick. Never suppress a feeling because it’s not how you are supposed to be feeling.
  • You are not alone
    • This is probably the most important lesson I have learned on campus. One of the benefits of being around so many people everyday is that regardless of what you are feeling I can guarantee someone else around you is feeling the same way. Letting yourself express that college is not what you thought it would be and express how uncomfortable you are is the only way you will be able to enjoy your time at school. Never feel ashamed for what you feel.
  • If you want to do something or meet someone you may have to do it by yourself
    • I know this is easier said than done and is something that I am still learning to do but it is important to understand. I spent so much of my time following my friends around freshman year that I missed out on a lot of fun opportunities. If there is someone you want to meet or something you want to do, don’t feel like you can only go if your friends want to go. Learn to be independent because this will give you the optimal college experience.
  • Give yourself time to adjust
    • I remember going into college, I had a mission to go home for winter break as a new person. Not only was this hard to do, it was also unrealistic. Going to a new place and trying to find a routine and food that you like is going to be hard. Don’t feel pressured to develop a routine right away or beat yourself up if the first one you try does not work. I remember I had a plan to go to the gym a couple times a week before starting college but I never realized how much homework I would be given. Because of this, I could only go once a week sometimes. Try not to beat yourself up for not adapting to a new environment the way you thought you were going to.
  • Don’t forget to prioritize yourself
    • For some people this is easy, but for people like me, it is not easy at college. Because of my intense major, I am given more homework than a lot of other majors I know. Overtime, I was known for always saying no when my friends wanted to do something and instead stayed up until 1 am almost every night then woke up at 6 to do more work. The main lesson after experiencing months like this, is to not lose yourself because of homework. Homework will always be there, your time at college will not be. While this is easier heard than acted upon, it is important to think about your priorities and values and ensure they are met. If not, you will experience burnout and dread everyday knowing you will get more homework like I did.

I know some of these things are better said than done, but these are just a snippet of the lessons I have learned at college. Remember every college experience is different and never feel ashamed if yours is not what you thought it would be. You have your whole life to have the time of your life, not just within the 4+ years of college.

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