Freshman Advice: What I'd Do Differently

I can’t tell you how fast college flies by. One minute I’m moving into the dorms and the next thing I know, I am full on panicking at the thought of having to apply to grown up jobs. I can honestly say, these past four years have been the most trying, brutalizing and heartbreaking years of my life. And somehow, it’s been the most fun I’ve ever had.

Looking back, I am truly grateful for the experiences I had (good and bad) that kick-started my growing pains; although, I do wish I had done some things differently. As a senior to an incoming freshman, here’s some advice.

Be Proactive

It doesn’t matter if I bold it, underline it or italicize it, I cannot emphasize this enough (at least not in a manner that is grammatically correct). YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OUT OF IT. Yes, it is so cliché that I can physically feel the eyerolls from here, but it couldn’t be more true. You want something? You’ve got to fight for it and make it happen. Nothing is going to come easy because it’s not supposed to. This time is meant to challenge you and push you past your comfort zones.

If you were like me freshman year, you were probably a little timid about making friends with strangers. I was so embarrassed about not having anyone to eat lunch with and not having Friday night plans and what did I do about it? Nothing. I was so confused why no one was going out of their way to be friends with me and thinking that way left me depressed and bitter.

I wish I had realized that nothing was going to magically pop out of the sky and land in my lap. When I envisioned college, I saw myself hanging out with a big group of girlfriends, laughing and doing everything together. I could slap myself now at how obvious the solution to my problem was. I’m not saying you should join a sorority or fraternity in order to make college the best years of your life, but I am saying you need to proactively search for the people and clubs that will contribute to your college experience. You played soccer in high school? Join the intramural club! You’re super passionate about writing? Fantastic! Join your school’s newspaper organization or HerCampus (shameless plug). My point is, take the time to figure out what you want out of your time at university and go for it!

 

Ditch the Dude

Ah, the sweet sound of “I told you so.” Hindsight man...it’s a killer. I’m not here to write to you and insist that everyone MUST breakup with their s/o in order to have a fun college experience. If you are in a loving relationship that is built off of mutual trust and is a relationship that you feel is pushing you forward, stick with it. Hell, send me some tips! But, if there is a part of you, even just a small part that feels like they might be holding you back from you reaching your fullest potential, you’ve got to cut it off. You’ve got to. There isn’t enough time to waste on some guy who feels envious and belittled by your success. Don’t stay in your dorm on Friday night because the “love of your life” doesn’t want you hanging out with people when they aren’t there because of their own insecurities. Live your life and don’t sweat the small stuff! Relationships come and go at this age, so don’t let one dictate what you can and cannot do. Take it from someone who knows.

Utilize your Time

Figuring out what you want to do professionally is quite the daunting task. Figuring out how to get there, is an entirely different ball game, my friend. You’ve got 4-5 years to learn as much about your field and gain the skills you have to acquire before being thrown into the real world, so take it seriously! You have to change your mindset about your courses. It’s not like high school where you can memorize what you have to just to pass the class and forget everything you learned over winter break. You need to soak in the courses and care about what information you’re being fed. The knowledge you gain from your professors is the same knowledge you will use post-graduation.

I would advise setting academic goals! Determine what you want to accomplish each semester or school year and place each semester on a timeline. This way, you can monitor your progress and create a guideline of when you need to accomplish what. If you want to study abroad, but also squeeze in a couple internships, figure out what year and what semester is best for you!

Let Loose A Little

Now is the time to have some fun and make memories that will last a lifetime! It’s okay to be a little irresponsible and leave your better judgment to the wayside sometimes. Send it! This is the time to make mistakes and be selfish with your time. Stay out too late. Kiss that guy even if you might never see him again because who cares! Go to IHop in your pajamas with your girlfriends at 3am. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, do what makes you happy and live it up!

There is no perfect way to have the dream college experience. All you have is you and your willingness to give it everything you have. I wish you the best of luck -- go get ‘em!