I still choose to deny the fact that the students of the class of 2026 are approaching college. I feel old and nostalgic just thinking about the day I confirmed my commitment to Florida State University (FSU) two years ago. Even though the circumstances for those of us who graduated during a pandemic are quite different regarding college/apartment tours and pre-graduation celebrations, I think I have gathered more than enough advice that I want to pass on to incoming freshmen. Two years does not sound like a long time but remember that experience is not necessarily measured with time. If there is anything I wish I could say to the class of 2026, this would be it.
Choose a school for YOU
As you are reading this, I am sure most of you have already committed to a school. However, that does not mean this advice does not still apply. Something that I had to tell myself was to pick whatever school I would feel the most comfortable in. When picking the right college, you must keep in mind that YOU are the one that filled out your application, YOU are the one that took those standardized tests, and YOU are the one that will end up wherever you pick, not anyone else. It is hard to be selfish in this decision because there is an innate desire to follow your friends to the university they pick. I don’t recall any section of my common app that read, “Where are your friends going?” It sounds selfish to sit here and tell you not to consider anyone else, but true friendships do not have a distance limit, and guess what? You can make new friends wherever you end up and you’ll learn to appreciate those long-distance friendships so much more.
No Car? No Problem!
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “You didn’t bring your car? How do you manage?” I’d be able to pay off my tuition solely from that. It’s as if public transportation does not exist. For the entirety of my freshmen year here at FSU, I was car-less, and I did not hate it. Most, if not all, universities have convenient and reliable student bus or shuttle services. I took the FSU Seminole Express to and from school every single day for two semesters. I had the privilege to have amazing roommates who had cars, and we would go grocery shopping together so that was not an issue for me. The Seminole Express has stops in front of Aldi and right down the street from Publix as well. It’s free for students and the TransLoc App allowed me to track the buses and view their exact locations and ETAs.
If you happen to have classes in the late afternoon, there is also the Nite Nole, which does have more limited stops, but it will get you home after the Seminole Express stops for the day. Even though I am only familiar with FSU’s public transportation system, I know from other people that their colleges also provide students with school-based public transportation. Think about how much money and stress you are saving yourself by not having to worry about paying for gas!
School First, Partying Second
Go ahead, call me lame, I dare you. Going to a “party school” is difficult because peer pressure is constantly present. Whether it is free-cess or AYCD Thursdays and Saturdays, there is always some excuse to go out here in Tallahassee. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out; the entire process from getting ready to coming home at 3 a.m. makes me feel liberated and like I am fulfilling my youth. What most students fail to remember is that we are in college to further our education and unfortunately, no matter the scholarships, it is not entirely free. Personally, I don’t comprehend how wasting money to get educated is worth one night out. Trust me, you WILL have time to have fun and go out, but do not prioritize it. If you know you have an exam coming up, or a paper to revise, hold off on going to the club on a Thursday or Friday, and make sure you crush that exam or paper. Clubs will always be there for you to enjoy, but it is not as easy to re-take an exam or bring your grade up because you slacked off once.
I was much more reserved in high school when it came to the party scene and everyone thought it was out of character for me to come to FSU, but I noticed that the more I go out, the more repetitive it gets. You want to make sure you treasure the moments and memories you create in college and that includes the late-night study sessions with your friends or staying in with your roommates.
I could write an entire book based on what I have learned in the past two years, but for the sake of everyone’s attention span, I hope that those three main points helped you out. If you take anything away from this, I want you to remember to do what YOU want in college. It is understandable to want help and advice, but do not let people tell you how you should act and what you should do. Your happiness and satisfaction need to be prioritized in college.