The Lalatwo Girls Sitting On A Step

A Letter to My Sister, and All College Freshmen to Come

As of today, I’m in my fourth year of college, hoping to graduate in December of 2021. My sister is now a senior in high school. We’re both on the edge of ending an important phase of our lives. Luckily for my sister, I'm one step ahead of her and, as the older one, I want to fulfill my duty and lead the way for her. Nothing too wild, just some tips that I would’ve loved to know before starting my college student life.

Dear sister,

I wanna start by saying that college is not that different from ordinary life. Yes, you will encounter difficulties and various situations and experiences you have never lived through before, but you must not compare your college life to others’ experiences. It’s gonna be fun, sad, exciting, and frustrating― and I bet you’re gonna love it. Here are some bits of advice I hope you’ll appreciate: 

  1. 1. Stay at home

    bored woman looking out the window

    Now this one may seem fitting to the current pandemic situation, but what I mean by this is: don’t move out until you’re ready. Apartment and dorm life requires a lot of responsibility and A LOT of expenses. Only move out if you find it to be extremely necessary. Sticking around your family home for longer will help you focus on all your academic priorities (not to mention that assuming too much responsibility before you're ready is a headache you can actually prevent).   

  2. 2. Love can't be forced

    silhouette of man and woman kissing at sunset

    Love is something you can never force. It needs to bloom by itself. Don’t pressure yourself on having to look for a SO. Believe me, there’s plenty of time for that; even though I’m well aware everybody says that, there’s reason enough for it to be true! There’s so much you need to experience as an individual, wandering around your single student life. Love is like a river and when you meet the right person, you must both flow with it and learn from it, but never force something to be what it’s not. Don't rush into it! And oh, all the crushes you’ll have... It's gonna be fun and exciting, trust me. 

  3. 3. Professors aren't that mean

    people sitting in chairs in a classroom viewed from behind

    Professors don't want to hurt you, or at least this should be your default thought process. You’re not gonna gain anything by antagonizing them. Yes, it will inevitably be more difficult because this is not the high school environment you are so accustomed to; but believe me, most of these professors really want to polish you, so let them do their work on you. I must clarify though, I’m not telling you to become their friends, much less condone inappropriate behaviors. If you feel a bad vibe towards a professor or one of them does anything suspicious, come talk to someone. Talk to me.

  4. 4. Don't cut class

    empty classroom

    I mean, I doubt you’ll do this one, but I might as well include it (we never really know). Don’t cut classes unless you have a valid excuse, and you are sure that the topic in class can be studied on your own at some other time. Most professors give out points for participation and assistance, and I swear the universe will conspire against you if you cut class just for the sake of it. They’ll hand out that surprise quiz you didn’t expect, or they’ll assign those bonus points that you needed… believe me, the possibilities are endless.

  5. 5. Bring food from home

    Friends Eating Fries and burgers

    Although it’s super delicious to delight yourself with the variety of food that’s available all over and near campus (of course, hoping the pandemic is over by the time you’re admitted), trust me, your wallet will thank you for bringing food from your own house from time to time. Don't stress about not finding where to reheat your food― there are microwaves everywhere on campus, although you may have to spend some time behind a row of equally hungry students.

  6. 6. Get a job, if you can

    Having a job is a big responsibility, but it’s worth it in the long run. If you can get one that fits in with your responsibilities as a student, take it! They may be hard to find, but they exist. Search thoroughly in your academic department; maybe try asking around campus. Working at the university is an excellent opportunity since you are already there and they’ll definitely support you and help you work around your study schedule. This way you can start building up your resume, and gain experience and knowledge while earning some money on the side.

  7. 7. Get involved

    Photo of people at work putting their hands on top of each other

    Look for opportunities to join groups and organizations at the university, regardless of whether they’re related to your studies or not. For me, Her Campus has been a safe haven and has brought me so many good experiences. I even did some yoga on the beach with my chapter! This way you’ll get the most out of your college life experience. You can also apply for internship opportunities within some organizations.

  8. 8. Apply for that minor

    Woman sitting at computer drinking coffee

    Apply for that minor you have been thinking about. Even if it doesn't have any relation to your major, do it. Contrary to how some people see it, these strange combinations make you stand out from other applicants for future internships or jobs. Since you are different and diverse, it would really put you out there.

  9. 9. Be nice

    Four people holding each other in shades of purple

    There is no need to be mean to anyone at college. You guys are all on the same boat! You don’t necessarily need to be friends with everyone, but it’s always good to have familiar faces around campus willing to help out― either because you survived a class with each other or waited in a long line together to pay late tuition fees (this wasn’t necessarily my case... or was it...?). Try to help strangers who don’t understand how the library printers work, exchange advice on the best and worst professors for certain courses, divide topics and create study reviews together, build up some study groups, and so much more. The world needs you to be kind!

Finally, my dear sister, don’t pressure yourself on being so perfect on everything during your college years. College itself can become so difficult… so watch out for your wellbeing always, and check in with me whenever you need to do so. Stay close to your friends. Since life is more fun and better in their company, be open to changes, and I think you’ll be alright. I love you, and I know you’ll do just fine.