Dear College Freshmen,
Welcome to the best four years. Really though.
Right now, you probably think I’m absolutely nuts for saying that, but as a senior at UNH, I could cry at the thought of leaving this place. You’re probably feeling every emotion in the book right now for lots of reasons. You could be moving away from home for the first time, changing all of the college plans you had because of the pandemic, or just leaving the security of your high school friends and teachers. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s completely normal and valid… Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
So, I’m going to write this letter based off of what my 18-year-old-self needed to hear. Are there things I would change about my experience? Absolutely. But would I trade this experience for anything? Not a chance.
First of all, fear is okay. I’m not going to tell you to not be afraid because when I was in your shoes, I was terrified. Your life in changing in one way or another. That being said, don’t sweat the small stuff. Everyone around you is in the same boat- lost freshmen who have no clue where the dining hall is. Ask someone how to get to HoCo, email your professor to clarify the assignment guidelines, go to the club meeting you’re unsure about. Whenever I found myself indecisive or anxious about going somewhere or trying something new, I’d ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
My next piece of advice is to just go out more. It’s a little bit different now than when I was a spring-chicken freshman because we’re currently in a pandemic. When I say "go out", I don't just mean parties, but activities around campus. Go to all the games! Not just football and hockey- I’m talking about those random Tuesday-night Men’s Soccer Games in the freezing cold. Honestly, those ones were so much fun and where I have some of the best memories with my friends. Join a million clubs on U-Day and go to the first meeting of every club you signed up for. That way you can pick and choose the ones you want to continue in. Find intramurals teams, go to group exercise classes at the gym… just get out of your dorm! Go to the MUB and participate in activities scheduled there, even if it’s something you never thought you’d ever do. My freshman year, one of my friends invited me to a Hillel meeting (which is a Jewish student organization at UNH) to eat latkes and play dreidel. I was raised Catholic, so I had no clue what to expect, but it was a ton of fun and it brought us closer together. At the same time, don’t feel like you always have to go out somewhere. Some of the best memories I have are the movie nights or Mamma Mia sing-alongs in my dorm with my friends.
All that being said, don’t burn yourself out. I’m pretty introverted, and I need a lot of time alone to recharge. Sometimes I found that having too many activities scheduled overwhelmed me. It’s okay to say no to things! FOMO is real (take it from the girl who turned 21 in a pandemic and still hasn’t gone to a bar), but you need to take care of yourself. You do you, boo. That brings me to the daunting topic of mental health. Things may change when you go to college- at least they did for me. There was so much about college that was so good for me, and then other times that I felt alone and frustrated and anxious. You’re not the only one who feels that way. Find what calms you down and keeps you going. For me, it’s singing Taylor Swift at the top of my lungs and performing for my roommates. For other people it’s yoga, reading a book or going for a run. Find your thing. Reach out to resources on campus, talk to trusted friends or professors. People want you to succeed! Not just academically, but personally. Take care of yourself and the people around you.
… And oh, yeah… academics. I kind of forgot about that part… You’ll be fine! Do your best (but don’t wear yourself down), use campus resources, buy a coffee and find a study spot you love, study for that exam before the day of, and enjoy the process of learning. Find what you’re passionate about and you’ll thrive.
So, freshmen- go enjoy every second (and there will be times you don’t enjoy but make the most of it). Find what you love and who you love and roll with it. Study abroad, join funky clubs and eat lunch on the quad. Take care of yourself and be kind to others. …And don’t take a second of it for granted!
Kyra (a college senior)