1. Don’t do things for your resume, and your resume alone. Recruiters won’t really care if you were secretary of the Gamma Phi Whatever Honor Society. Your attendance at a few Spanish Club meetings isn’t going to make or break a job offer. Do things that ignite your passions, expand your horizons, help you grow, and make college the most memorable, experimental, and transformative years of your life.
2. Don’t eat every meal at the dining halls. The Freshman 15 is a VERY real thing, and you won’t want to look back on the times that were supposed to be the best you ever looked with regrets. Plus, learning to cook and prepare meals for yourself will be supremely beneficial when the real world hits you in the face like a ton of bricks.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others. Whether you’re surrounded by engineers that are graduating with six-figure salaries or in a sorority with a Miss USA candidate, focus on your own strengths. You don’t know anyone else’s backstory or hidden struggles, and fretting over comparisons will be nothing short of caustic.
4. Don’t avoid eye contact on the street. College is (usually) a big world with continually unfamiliar faces. I spent my first two years, for the most part, walking around campus with my eyes glued to my phone or awkwardly avoiding eye contact with that same guy I pass on my Tuesday-Thursday class route each and every week. Be friendly. Everyone is in a new land looking for new friends, and it’s better to be the person that looks stupid smiling at strangers than the person who avoids eye contact.
5. Don’t believe you are invincible. Be cautious at parties. Don’t trust every drink you’re blindly given. Think twice before walking home alone at night. College can feel like a bubble, but invincibility is strictly an illusion.
6. Don’t be afraid to change majors. Whether you realize this two days in (my case) or two years in, it’s better to take a small step back in fulfilling your curriculum than to spend a lifetime of unhappiness in a field you hate.
7. Don’t forget about your family back home. It is beyond easy to get caught up in game days, Greek events, and the endless amount of activities available night after night on a bustling college campus. But don’t forget to remember who provided you with each and every opportunity you have. As you’re growing up, your parents are growing old, and a 10-minute conversation on your walk to class won’t kill you.
8. Don’t fret over the small stuff. Every time a job rejection or a failing grade hurt my spirits, I would ask myself if the incident would matter in 5 years. You won’t remember the grade you got on a Calculus midterm, but you’ll remember the nights you spent studying with your best friends in between commercial breaks of The Bachelor (which perhaps amounted to the aforementioned failing grade…). You won’t remember the drama between you and a boyfriend. College Life is too short, so stop worrying about the inconsequential matters.
9. Don’t forget that it’s over before you know it. Enjoy it, freshmen.