18 College Hints That I Wish My Junior Self Could Tell My Freshman Self

Compiled by a junior who has been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows--

--here are 18 things that I wish I had known when I first started college. 

 

Disclaimer: this piece was started before COVID-19. Please don't go to a party. Please follow social distancing protocols. Please wear a mask! If the CDC wouldn't approve, save the tip for next year. 

 

  1. Do not put pressure on yourself to have the “best four years of your life”. It is great that so many people love college, and you really do meet your best friends and get to be independent and step into yourself. So far, these HAVE been the best three years of my life--but don’t tell yourself that has to happen. Don’t waste time worrying. You can skip the party to study, and that’s okay. You can skip the studying to sleep, and that’s okay. You will have days when you think “oh my god, I can’t believe this is my life,” and days where you think “oh my god, I am so overwhelmed by my life,” and all of that is okay. All of that is normal. It’s not supposed to be one big movie scene. It’s perfect little clips in the mundane that make it worth it. Cling to those. 

  2. Give relationships time, and don’t force them. You are entering a pool of so, so many people. Some of them are going to be people you click with on the first meeting, and some you won’t. You don’t have to love your roommate. Just be civil. Your twin flames are unlikely to all be found on the random floor of your first-year dormitory. You have to do a bit of searching. Be patient. 

  3. Grades are not the end of the world, but don’t let anyone tell you that they do not matter. I was told many times that it is impossible to have good grades in college, and that everybody does poorly on this assignment or that test. You don’t have to do poorly just to fit the narrative of the conversation. Try for the ‘A’. It is possible. You are capable. 

  4. Go home if you need to sit in your childhood bedroom where it’s quiet. It makes you no less independent. 

  5. Don’t overthink the fresh start. No need to reinvent yourself. Just fall into yourself, whatever that might look like. 

  6. Everybody feels lonely sometimes. We’re together in our loneliness. Loneliness is a great springboard for an emotionally intimate conversation. Ask someone if they’re lonely today. I dare you. That answer will feel like a hug to you both. 

  7. It’s okay to explore and it’s okay to change. Switch your major, take on a random minor, sign up for that club even if you don’t have a day of experience. 

  8. Don’t be afraid to speak up in class. The big guy talking is not any smarter than you. Louder does not mean smarter.  

  9. Take lots of pictures and videos because when you’re home for the summer missing everyone, those are going to get you through. 

  10. It’s okay to ask for help.

  11. Celebrate the little things that feel like the big things--the first time you grab coffee between classes, the first time you get to watch the snow cap the pretty old buildings, the first night you fall asleep in your own room. Romanticize the hell out of the library view, the exhaustion behind your eyes after reading Dickinson poems for six hours, the feeling of your fresh term paper sitting in your hands. You made it here, and you’re doing all these things, and HELL yeah baby, that’s cool. 

  12. You will probably not die when you drink too much, but you are not invincible. Take care of yourself the way you would take care of anyone else. 

  13. Say no sometimes. Your FOMO is a bully. Call it out. 

  14. Get to know your professors! They’re the people who are going to be your job references in the future. Go to office hours, ask them to revise your paper, stay after class to ask a question. Be annoying and hungry and fierce. It’s a good thing--I promise. 

  15. Ask the girl you met ten seconds ago for coffee. Nobody thinks it is weird if you ask them on a friend date. All of my best friendships were born from awkward first conversations and someone biting the bullet and extending a hangout invitation. Throw friend dates around like confetti.

  16. Find people different from you, and learn from each other. 

  17. The “freshman fifteen” is a myth. You’re supposed to grow in more ways than one. Don’t worry about it. 

  18. Make your campus your kingdom. Make it your home. No one is more capable of this than you.