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6 Important Lessons I’ve Learned in College So Far

My name is Rachel and I have now been a college freshman for a month. In this time, I have learned, seen, and experienced A LOT. Some I was prepared for but at the same time, I didn’t know what to expect. I compiled a list with a mixture of things I have learned through my first month at school.

1.    Missing the closeness and people who understand you

This was something I wasn’t prepared for. I knew I would miss my parents, but I thought it would be a more general miss. I was thinking I’ll miss home cooked meals or having someone to switch my clothes when I forget too. But those were not the things I have found myself missing the most. Instead, it’s the feeling of getting a hug from someone who has been with you since you were born. You will have plenty of friends in your first couple of weeks but it’s just the start of a friendship. There isn’t that comfort to turn to yet. It’s really difficult. You may not have to get used to it, but it just might get a little easier. 

2.    Realizing you can act and be who you want, but also realizing you can act and be who you want

This is a double edge sword. One of the first nights I just turned myself into an extrovert and talked to random people. Something clicked for me that these people didn’t know me. They didn’t know that I was actually a shy person, or I hate small talk. I could be whoever I wanted to be, so I chose someone new. While I chose someone knew this also caused me to start questioning myself. I was quiet in high school because why? Was it because I wasn’t one of the “popular” kids? Because I was different than everyone else. I’ve learned to question my actions now and remind myself that I can be who I want. 

3.    You aren’t going to be comfortable for a while

This is still going on. It still doesn’t feel completely like I’m at college, but it is slowly getting there. Attending only three classes in one day versus seven is still weird. It gives that illusion that I can just do whatever I want (even though I can’t). Being away from home feels slightly like college but it also feels like a camp I attended where I stayed in dorms. What has made it feel like college is the fact that I am meeting new people, and I can’t even remember what it is like to see the same people every day. Little things will start to click and bring you to the realization that this is your life now.

4.  You will learn if you are good at time management or if it’s an area you need to improve

I have seen so many people learn this as well. Thankfully I discovered I am very good at time management. You will be forced to become better at it. For some reason, you really can do things in high school the night before but in college, that is much harder to pull off. My trick is to write everything out by the hour and set goals for each day. Saying what you will get done and writing it down holds you responsible. 


5.    You will find new interests

For most schools, one of their selling points is how many clubs they have. As much of a selling point, this is it is also a great tool. I went to the student club fair and I found at least 20 clubs with activities I never heard of. I signed up for many new clubs and have found new interests. It’s a great experience to break out of your own mold and find out more about yourself.

6.    Meeting new people is scary, but you can do it

Even before I was at college I was thinking about this. I had graduated with kids that I had also gone to kindergarten with. I wasn’t used to having to make friends. I was also a shy person but as I soon found out that didn’t matter. As I talked about in point No.2 you can reinvent yourself. You get to be who you want and doing so will find your new friends. It is very scary, but everyone is in the same boat as you and everyone wants to find friends as soon as they can. 

College is a very different place than anything I have experienced. I have met some really cool people, seen some really funny things but also learned a lot about myself. Freshman year so far (and I expect it to continue to be) a whirlwind. As scary or frustrating as it may be you just need to keep pushing forward because everything will fall into place. 


Rachel Cohen

Ithaca '22

My name is Rachel and I am an exploratory student at Ithaca College
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