College is the home to many learning curves, most of which are encountered during your first year. This is a love letter to all of those ready to embark on what is going to be both the best and worst 4 years of their lives. All the best of luck, and the best advice I can offer:
1. BE SOCIAL. Meet as many people as you can, and try to leave a lasting impression. Develop relationships with those around you; some of these relationships are ones that will continue to exist after graduation. Take advantage of how many people are around you.
2. Remember names; people notice when you do, and when you don’t. It matters more than you think.
3. Go to class. No matter how much you don’t want to, or how many good excuses you come up with. It can mean the difference between passing/failing, and getting an A or a B. Besides, you’re already paying for it.
4. Respect your roommate, but address conflict. You have to live with this person for the school year and you don’t want an uncomfortable living environment, but you don’t want to let tension build either.
5. Take the courses you want to take. Complete your requirements, but don’t be afraid to take a course in a field you’ve never heard of, or a course that might seem challenging. Get as much as you can out of your college education; because not everyone is fortunate enough to get one, and your future self will regret it when paying back student loans 4 years from now.
6. Your idea of who you are will be altered in some way. College is a life changing experience in which you’ll learn a lot about yourself, mostly through the choices you make when no parent figure is there to stop you. You’ll learn what you’re willing to do/not do, and the kind of people you want to socialize with.
7. And with that being said, it’s okay to feel unsure of who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing.You’re going to be presented with a lot of options and decisions, some of which will have a long term impact on your future. It’s okay to consider other paths and change your original plan if it’s what you want.
8. At some point, you may feel like you want to transfer: don’t. Sometimes, nothing feels right no matter how many friends or good memories you have. This is a common phase for freshmen to encounter, especially because your lifestyle is changed completely. Give it some time, a chance, and don’t act on an impulse.
9. Protect Yourself When it Comes to Sex: Many people see college as the time to experiment sexually, which works for some, but not for others. You don’t have to sleep around, and you shouldn’t do so if it’s not something you’re comfortable with. Keep in mind the dangers that can come from unprotected sex/one night stands.
10. Be Selfish: This is your college experience, and you’re going to be the one telling the stories when you look back on this time one day. If you’re not happy with something, change it, no matter what other people say or think. You need to put yourself first.
11. You Don’t Have to Reinvent Yourself. You will change, but that change doesn’t always have to be conscious, or even intentional.
12. Call Home: It’s easy to forget about home with all the distractions and fun college has to offer, but it’s important to remember where you came from and who helped you get where you are today. While college is a transition for you, it’s also a transition for your parents and siblings. Keep in mind that out of sight does not have to mean out of mind.
13. If You Can Get Alone Time, Do So: Being surrounded by so many other students can be fun, but tiring. It’s hard to get away from the crowd when you share a house, so take advantage of the alone time you do get, even if it’s only in the shower.
14. You’re Going to Make Bad Decisions: And you might not care, or even realize they’re bad unless/until you receive the consequences. College makes it seem like you can do whatever you want whenever you want, but this isn’t true. Evaluate if a risk is worth the possible trouble it can bring before you take it, but don’t live in constant fear of fucking up.
15. Treat Members of the Opposite Sex Right: Morality doesn’t go out the window in college, although it sometimes seems like it. Everyone wants to be treated like a person.
16. If Someone Bothers You, Confront Them: If someone is shit talking or purposefully doing something to antagonize you, you need to say something. Violence and yelling isn’t necessary, but seeking out the source and checking it is. What you allow is what will continue. Don’t put up with anyone’s shit.
17. Go to Office Hours: You may not realize it now, but many jobs, scholarships, and postgrad. applications require letters of recommendation, which you won’t get if you don’t make the effort to get to know your professors. This is especially important for those attending bigger colleges; stand out in the crowd, get on that first name basis. It will be important in the long run.
18. Make Sure There’s More to You Than Partying: Everyone loves a good party, and a good bottle, but you need to have more substance to you than alcohol and memories of a ratchet kickback. Your partying habits shouldn’t be your only topic of conversation, or the most interesting thing about you. Besides, you can’t talk about those experiences in a job interview when asked “what do you do in your free time?”
19. Your Residence Hall Doesn’t Dictate Your Social Habits: Just because you live on a certain floor, or in a certain building doesn’t mean you have to become best friends with all of those people. Sure you’ll see them fairly often, but the most you owe them is small talk and a “hello.” Be selective of who you spend time with, and of who you call friends.
20. It’s Easy to Get a Reputation: People remember what you do, and how you act, and word spreads quickly among students. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want a large group of people to be aware of, because chances are they will, and you can get labeled for it.
21. It’s Not a Big Deal to Eat Alone: Seriously. No one cares, and it’s fucking great. You get to take yourself out for a meal and not be judged for it, because everyone is running on a different schedule, which makes meeting up for group meals difficult. Remember the alone time thing I mentioned? Here’s an opportunity.
22. You Will Fail at Something: Be it an exam, or some sort of extracurricular opportunity, you will at some point fail. And you’re going to fail HARD. This doesn’t mean you’re not going to be successful in college; if anything it means that you need to change something about your lifestyle to get to where you want to go. Be thankful for failure, it teaches the most powerful lessons.
23. Love Yourself: This sounds cliche, but sometimes the love you need the most is your own. Don’t put yourself down if things don’t work out the way you expected. Build yourself up, because even in a sea of students, sometimes you’re the only one you have. Respect yourself first.