Dear College Freshman

College may only be four years, but the lessons learned could fill a book you would read for eternity. Below are 25 things I learned and would love to share with you. You see, you are about to embark on the greatest journey of your life. Make your own mistakes, celebrate your accomplishments, and remember to never regret one day.

1. Don’t trust anyone but yourself. You are your own best friend and you know what is best for you. Listen to your gut as much as possible.

2. Exception to number 1: if you meet “The One” then you can trust him. But only if he really is “The One.”

3. You won’t like every co-ed you meet and not every person will like you – that’s ok. Stick to the people who make you a better person. Girls are always going to be ruthless, stay as far above and beyond it as possible.

4. Stick up for yourself. I learned this the hard way. If you don’t stick up for yourself in the beginning, then no one will ever take you seriously.

5. Find friends who will stick up for you when you can’t stick up for yourself. Sometimes you just need a little extra support. A friend may be able to explain you better than you can explain yourself.

6. Your circle of friends will change. Have trust in the process. You will graduate with people by your side that you are proud to call your friends.

7. Get friendly with bartenders and bouncers at your college bar. Our bartenders gave me some of the best advice. Number 19 was given to me by a bartender…

8. Find the teacher that thinks you shine. You will have approximately 40 professors in college. Make sure you find one that remembers you and will help you get an internship, find a job, or hire you.

9. You are no longer a big fish in a little pond. Not everyone will know your name, so you will have to work hard at making a good reputation for yourself.  It won’t be easy, and it will take time. Don’t let your freshman reputation define you, but also don’t make it one that does define you.

10. Study abroad. Period.

11. Acquire the gift of gab – and preferably before you go to Cork, Ireland, and kiss the Blarney Stone. You will find yourself in so many situations where you will want to talk your way into and out of things. For example, into a bar and then out of trouble later in the night. You will thank yourself the next morning. There will also come a time when you will need to defend your decisions and options. Whether it be to a parent, professor, friend, or police officer, learning to defend yourself is an important skill.

12. It is totally ok to fail. College is about learning who you are and what works for you. Don’t feel pressured to always succeed. No one got ahead by being perfect all of the time. If you never fail, you will never learn how to improve.

13. Take a humble pill the night before you leave for college. So many people you meet will think they are the smartest, the prettiest, and the most fun. In fact, they are really the least humble. Consider yourself equal with every other person.

14. Work every summer and during the school year. You will spend so much money and you will be happy when you have your own cash. Mom and Dad will get sick of you sticking your hand out.

15. Learn to think for yourself. Don’t just do what your cool friend is doing Friday night. If you want to go somewhere else, do it!

16. Be considerate of your roommate(s). You would want the same…

17. Don’t forget to call home. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of college life. Mom and Dad will miss you.

18. Get involved. Do something besides go to class and party. Having a complete resumé will be your most valuable tool post graduation.

19. Spend time alone. Often I found myself just doing what everyone one else was doing because I didn’t want to miss out. FOMO is not a real thing – it was invented by someone who wasn’t strong enough to stand alone.

20. YOLO. But that doesn’t mean “you-only-live-once-so-I-am-going-to-be-reckless.” You get ONE life and only one life.

21. It’s going ok to try new things. If you don’t want to try something, then don’t. No one will make fun of you for making smart decisions.

22.  Find something you are passionate about that you weren’t passionate about in high school. Your tastes and personality will change and evolve.

23. Don’t ever give up. College is amazing, but it’s only a tiny fraction of your life. Don’t take anything too seriously, or you won’t be able to survive the rest of your life in this crazy world.

24. Spend time with the less fortunate either through volunteering or observation. You will find that your life is much better than you ever thought it was. When I volunteered with children whose parents made less than 30K a year, I was stunned to hear that by 3rd grade, they already knew that they wouldn’t go to college. Don’t forget that you go to bed each night having eaten three meals. When I volunteered, the kids would tell me they were lucky if they got dinner. My greatest advice is to think less about yourself and more about those around you. It isn’t easy, but it is a lifelong commitment. You can change the course of someone else’s life if you only try.

25. My aunt taped the poem below into a book she gave me when I graduated high school. It seemed silly at the time, but now it makes perfect sense. Be who you are and don’t just follow the person in front – unless of course they are the one with the map of Munich and you don’t how to get to the hotel… 

The Road Less Traveled – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Briana is taking the road less traveled.

More From Thought Catalog