An Open Letter to College Freshmen

Dear First-Year Student,


I would like to congratulate you on completing your first semester of school at college! Hopefully you have adjusted into your new home and have met some amazing friends to guide you along your journey for the next 4 years. After years of living with your family at home, you are finally independent and able to create your own schedule, get involved in your community as much as you desire, and run on your own schedule.  All these things are great, but sometimes I wish I had someone be a little more honest with me about college.  I decided to write down some things I wish I knew ahead of time and hopefully help a few of you out there.  Of course, take everything with a grain of salt because everyone has their own diverse experience and first year at college.


First and foremost take time for yourself. These four years of your undergrad will go by quicker than you think and college is really the time to explore who you want to be, your career, and your overall path in life.  This is your time to try new things, find your interests, and excel in your own ways. I wish someone told me that school is not your entire life when you go to college. Yes, you are paying quite the sum of money to focus on your academics but there is more to college than just going to classes and studying every day. Take time to do what makes you happy, after all this is your home away from home. Participate in clubs, join intramurals, go to the gym, or do whatever it is that makes you feel at ease and happy inside. College is demanding, and there will be times where you’ll be extremely stressed and busy. It is essential to take the time out of each day to recollect yourself, de-stress, and continue on.


This is something you’ve probably heard before but hear me out on this one...actually go to your professors office hours.  This advice may seem repetitive but this is something that I have found to be most beneficial! You create a more respectable, memorable, and closer relationship with your professor by attending these office hours. Not only are you receiving help from them one-on-one, you are building a stronger relationship with your professor where they are able to help make you feel more comfortable with the material in their class. You stand out amongst the numerous amounts of students in your class and have a stronger and more confident feeling in succeeding in the class.


This may seem to repeat my first piece of advice but just stick with me.  Put yourself first. College is extremely demanding, depending on the amount of involvement that you have between academics and extracurricular activities. It is difficult to balance both of these during the school year, although it is possible if you are organized. With a busy schedule, and a stressful amount of pressure that you have to face from your demands, it is more difficult to put yourself first. Even before academics, your mental health and overall well-being should be your priority. It is ok to decline an invitation to a party to study for an exam tomorrow. It is ok to say no thank you to hanging out with friends. It is ok to stay inside and watch your favorite show while eating snacks, while your friends are out and about. It is great to put yourself before others when you need to recharge. Finding happiness within yourself will lead you to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle at school.


Finally, let your success be your voice. College can be a competitive time. Depending on the path you take in your future career, you may be striving to stand out among others in order to go to medical school, carry on a P.H.D or attend a law school. Do not look at the success of others and compare their path to yours. We each have our own path which means that we go at our own pace in order to reach our final end goal or destination. Stay focused, motivated, and never give up on your aspirations. There are countless pieces of advice that I wish to share for you, although I think all of these ideas are the most significant for the overall health, happiness, and success of a first-year student. Define your own path, exceed your expectations, and do the next best thing.


Best of luck,


Stephanie Krakowski