The beginning of college is simultaneously the most thrilling and terrifying experience. Most likely, you are living on your own for the first time, far from your hometown, faced with a limitless amount of possibility, and staring down the gun of your future, the same gun that has been cocked and loaded, waiting for you to run at it. So, yeah, this is the stuff of nightmares. I’ve been there. And, I can assure you that, the moment my mom left me at my dorm, I flirted with my downstairs neighbor, popped into my room, and then cried, then got really excited, then cried a little bit more. I got you, freshman.
1. The friends you make during the first few weeks of college will be your pillars of strength during the coming year. Most likely, these friends will be your friends forever, because you will have weathered the same battle, which is entering a new world without knowing what the hell is going on.
2. You will share everything with these friends: hook-up stories, future worries, homesickness, fears about classes and living on your own and what you’ll do for money or how you’re going to catch the eye of the crush you have on that cutie in your 8:45am lecture. Nothing will ever be quite as special as the bond you form with these friends, so pick good ones and dive headfirst into those relationships. You’ll be talking to them ten years later about the incredible memories you’re making right now.
3. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t worry. Nobody does. Seriously, nobody! Everyone around you that looks put together is secretly unsure and scared and trying to figure it out just like you are.
4. Don’t feel pressured to pick a major. The first two years you’re going to be finding your footing and getting your general ed out of the way anyway. Don’t add pressure to have your future figured out. Pressure is not something you need to add in college (it’s already there, don’t worry). What you love will happen naturally. You’ll see where you fit, what interests you, and what you want to pursue in due time.
5. You’re going to change so much over your first year, so just focus on enjoying yourself. Relieve the pressure you feel to be someone. Over the next four years, you won’t even recognize the you as a freshman, so embrace that and expend energy discovering and revealing who you are, instead of trying to define it.
6. You are in college to get an education, but your education does not begin and end in the classroom. The life skills you’re building outside of the classroom will help you in ways you don’t realize yet. Say yes more. Digest experiences and life lessons in the same reverence you’re studying. It all boils into the same pot and you’ll do more with a well-rounded college experience than a purely academic one.
7. Ok, so, joining things in high school was probably uncool, but in college? It’s awesome! Join all the things that interest you. Extracurriculars in college are about a hundred times more fun than they ever were in high school. Plus, you can enjoy them now, without having to worry about what you’re going to put on your college application. You’ve made it already!
8. Drink, party, have fun, but be careful. I know, you’re excited. I was, too! But just, keep your wits about you. I know it can seem like you are invincible, but you’re not. You’re going to make amazing memories you may not remember very well with your favorite people, but there’s no party foul quite like someone getting too out of control or sick to function. Have fun, but don’t be the buzzkill.
9. No matter who you were in high school, you get to be someone else entirely new in college. Reinvent yourself! Get a new hairstyle, new clothes, new anything and everything, because whatever you thought you couldn’t be in high school, you get to be now.
10. You guys: CONDOMS, PLEASE. ALWAYS CONDOMS.
11. This needs to be repeated: nobody knows what they’re doing. Resist the urge to compare yourself to people around you. Nobody has it more together. Nobody has their shit together. Everyone around you is broken and lonely and excited and thrilled and scared and horny and insecure and anxious… all at the same time, together, always.
12. You will never feel freer than during this time. You are completely on your own and your responsibility level isn’t too high yet, so take this time to experiment on every whim you have. Not to be all cliché here, but you will never regret a chance you take, but you’ll definitely regret a chance you didn’t take.
13. Embrace all the messiness of this first year. You will most likely find yourself homesick, heartbroken, and hungover, many times all three at the same time. And that’s okay. You are learning about who you are and what it means to be an adult. It’s a gift and an exhilaration. The best thing you can do is dive right in and experience the hell out of it.