Flashback Friday: Looking Back on My First-Year Experience

Freshman year seems long ago, but really it was less than two years ago that I was walking the halls of Hank with a whole new life in front of me. So much has happened in my life since coming to Vanderbilt and I can’t imagine what my life would be like at any other university. Who would my friends be? What hobbies would I have? What would my major be? I came in knowing a lot about what I wanted to get out of my four years here and the life I wanted to live, but so much didn’t go as plan and there were even more things I wasn’t ever expecting to even have to think about. Here are the main things I wish someone would’ve told me before I embarked on this journey we call college.

  1. Be nice. This really may sound super simple and very “duh!” but there’s more to it than what you’ve always been told. I don’t mean be nice in a way that feels fake or that you’re spending all of your time trying to be perfect or even pretending that you’re a really cheery person when you’re Wednesday Addams at heart. What I mean is that it may take some time to vet out who you want to be friends with which means there may be someone who you could have an amazing friendship with but don’t end up getting to know them because when you met them you weren't friendly or open to a little small talk.
  2. Be smart about your savings. If you’re like most freshmen, you don’t have a savings account yet and if you do it isn’t overflowing with cash quite yet. You’re going to get a lot of money from a variety of places throughout college, whether it’s high school graduation money or from a part time job or maybe even leftover funds from a scholarship. When that money comes rolling in you should always set aside some of it for your savings. Having an account with money that you never touch can be hard, but you’ll feel so much better when you have to make an emergency purchase or decide to take a little out for a fun spring break trip.
  3. It’s never too early to start exploring what you'll want to do after graduation. With that being said, there is a time when it’s too early to be ~stressing~ about where you’ll be in four years. But thinking about what you want to do can really help guide what clubs and classes you are in freshman year which may not seem to matter yet, but trust me when I say that it will when you’re applying to jobs or trying to get into grad school as a senior. Being in a club throughout your whole college carrier can actually give you great experience in whatever field you’re thinking about going into and can make it easier for you to make difficult choices about exactly was jobs/grad programs you want to apply for. I started considering going to grad school to get a PhD in biochemistry second semester of freshman year. Because of that, when I needed to find a research position I already knew where to look and who to talk to (for the most part) which made finding a lab way easier than if I hadn’t started considering my options until now as a Junior.