8 Things I’d Tell My Freshman-Year Self

Starting your freshman year is like stepping into Wonderland.  You have freedom like never before, and yet there are so many new responsibilities, so much to learn, so many things pulling at your attention.  Freshman year is survivable— I promise— but there are quite a few things I wish I could tell my past self to make it just a bit more manageable.

1. Push yourself— make yourself uncomfortable. During my freshman year, I was very shy.  This is how I am naturally, and it made the first few months of college way more complicated than they had to be.  Talk to everyone and anyone: the girl beside you in calc 1, the frat bro who’s always late to bio, the redhead you often see in the dining hall.  Everyone around you is in the same situation and trying to find new college friends.  The more people you talk to, the more likely you are to find someone that you click with— that's just pure math.

2. Your professors actually care. Unlike what I was made to believe in high school, the majority of professors care about their students’ well-being, even far beyond the lecture hall.  Do not be afraid to show up at a professor's office hours, even if it’s just to introduce yourself.  This doesn’t mean that you can slack off on every assignment, but a lot of professors are understanding.  They want you to succeed in their class and in life.  In college, being friends with your teachers is cool.

3. Don't overload yourself. I wish someone had stopped me when I rolled into my freshman year with a 17-credit schedule.  It takes time to find your studying pattern, your sleeping pattern, and even your eating pattern.  While it might be courageous to take on a full schedule, hold off until later.  Since my first semester, the most I've taken is 16 credits at a time— and believe me, you can see the clear improvement in my grades once I figured out how much I can handle in a semester.

4. Drinking isn't required— or even necessary at all. While partying might be what makes some most excited for college- it’s not all that it’s made out to be.  A night in with a few close friends can mean so much more than a night spent in a dingy basement of a house you walked two miles to reach (the basement may even flood— ew, also true story).  If you choose to drink, be sure to always do so responsibly.  It might be shocking, but staying sober is not social suicide.

5. Do more of what you love. I mean it— if you love drawing, start an art Instagram account.  If writing is your thing, join your local Her Campus chapter (AAAAYE!!).  Sports?  Find out what your college or city has to offer.  Giving yourself time to do something you absolutely enjoy can help you de-stress from the constant weight of classwork.  There's always another photo to take, another musical to fall in love with, another adventure to go on.  Push yourself to have interests besides Netflix and sleep (although they are quality hobbies).

6. Don't start dating someone O-week. This is a personal shout-out, but I had to include it.  Starting a relationship during orientation isn't a good idea.  Just wait, give it time.  Get to know yourself.  College is a huge time for self-discovery, so give yourself the space necessary.  Better yet, take yourself out on dates.  Learn to “treat yo’self.”  There’s so much to explore and discover in your new home— take advantage of this!

7. Don’t forget where you come from. I could write an entire piece on this— and perhaps I will— but for now I will just say this: the further you get from home, the more you will discover it defines exactly who you are and who you are not.

8. Chase your dreams. Ever since I was in fourth or fifth grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer.  Still, I settled on an economics and political science double major.  It took the advice of an old friend to wake me up and rediscover my love for spilling out fresh ink over a clean, white page.  Don't give up on your wildest dreams— even if they change!  For me, this meant adding a creative writing minor and realizing both dreams— the new (law school) and the old (being a published author)—are not mutually exclusive. For anyone starting their first year of college, go forth with courage!  Your story is only beginning.


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