Going into my last semester of college has made me think about the past 3.5 years I have experienced at Siena, including all the way back to my freshman year. If I could go back and do it all again there would definitely be some things I would change and others I wish I would have known. I know everyone probably looks back at some point in their life and wishes they had done/said something differently, and my first year of college is definitely one of the points that comes to mind. Hopefully this information helps some of the incoming freshman or students still in high school who are looking at different colleges!
- Try New Things
No, I'm not suggesting to party like crazy once you get to school (although some might enjoy that), I mean that you should feel comfortable with trying things that are out of your comfort zone. If you are more introverted - maybe try spending time with larger groups of people or forcing yourself to join a club or sorority on campus. If you are an extrovert - instead of hanging out with a ton of people, try putting effort into a night by yourself watching a movie, reading, journaling, doing yoga, going on a walk, etc. College is the time in your life where you are still figuring out who you are as a person and what you enjoy, so why not push yourself to try things you might not have been comfortable with when you were younger? Who knows, you might find you really enjoy some of the things you try!
- Make Lots of Friends
Before moving into your dorm room freshman year, you will probably feel a variety of things - excitement, nervousness, sadness about living away from home, etc. It could be different for other people, but I remember everyone either trying to make friends with a large group of people or just latch on to one person (usually their roommate). I was a mix of the two. My roommate and I had chosen to live together after meeting at an accepted students day even though we didn't know a ton about each other and I also became friends with a lot of the girls in my hall. Looking back, I wish I had tried to make myself not rely on my roommate as much and that I had spent more time making friends outside of that group. In high school, it's extremely easy to stay in the one group of friends you have known forever, so you might not have a lot of experience in meeting new people to become close with. Go into things with an open mind and try to spend time with people similar and different to those you spent time with in high school.
- Put in the Work
Sometimes I think people coming to college for the first time get wrapped up in the experience and focus mostly on their social life. While it is great to make a lot of friends and memories, you are there to learn and choose your career path. It will be time consuming and on occasion you may have to say no to plans with friends, but putting time and effort into school will only benefit you in the future. Talk your friends into studying and doing homework at the library or in a lounge in your dorm so you can all be productive together. Getting those amazing grades in your classes will help you develop a good work ethic, which in turn will help you be successful in your future.
- Class Isn't Everything
That being said, studying 24/7 definitely isn't healthy and will not help you to do your best. You need to try different ways of maintaining a (school)work-life balance that might be difficult to figure out at first. It took me more than a few tries for sure. At some points, I was putting too much time into my homework/studying and at others I wasn't putting enough time into it. The biggest thing that helped me find out what worked was making lists of things I wanted to accomplish for school both socially and class-wise. There is also just something about crossing things off your "to do" list that is very satisfying. Overall, this will help you stay focused and you will have better time management because of it!
- Enjoy Your Time
This is very cliché to mention, but everyone who has told you that "college goes by quickly, so enjoy yourself" is completely correct. You'll only experience your freshman year once and trust me, the time flies! It seems like just yesterday I was moving into my freshman dorm room and here I am finishing up my final year of college. Spend time doing the things that you love with the people you enjoy being around and be yourself! If you ever think to yourself "oh, I don't need to do that because there's lots of time for me to," you should do it! The time goes by quickly and especially with COVID-19, you never know what may happen with in person classes or living at school.
For those of you looking back on your own college experience, you still have time to do these things even if you are no longer a freshman! Take advantage of the time you have with your friends and family to do the things you enjoy doing, and work hard too!