1. Trust your gut. You are going to meet so many damn people during your first year of college. You will feel inklings of suspicion towards a few. Those feelings deserve some thought. If you feel as though you can’t trust someone, that’s okay. There are going to be other people who you can trust who are going to absolutely adore you. These people will never make you think twice.
2. Go to your professor’s office hours. My professors’ faces would light up like I was bringing them bottles of scotch when really all I was bringing them were questions about Aristotle and awkward dad-jokes. Professors appreciate your effort so much more than you’ll ever know. Also, take advantage of your school’s tutoring services. There is absolutely no shame in that. YOU are the one who is going to have to live with your grades.
3. That beautiful blonde girl–she’s skinny, she’s a tank, and she’s making out with the lacrosse player right in front of you. Why can’t you be her? WELP, you’ll learn one day that she’s dealing with her own shit, too. No one’s life is perfect, no matter how frustratingly perfect it may seem.
4. Don’t pick your major based on what you feel you should become. I wanted to be a teacher when I was five, I’m good with kids, so I thought–I need to be a teacher, right? Dear 18-year-old me: Do you realize that you just based your entire future on what you thought when you were FIVE years old? You used to eat food with your fingers and take crayons to your mom’s white dresses at this age so maybe take an anthropology class or two. Seriously. Take a few different classes. Major in what excites you and what does not feel like work. No five-year-old logic.
5. Take advantage of your school’s mental health services. Colleges usually have great mental health services or offices that can provide you with pathways to external mental health services. Please don’t be afraid to go to counseling. Counseling can console you and give you a peace that you deserve and have never encountered before.
6. A boy who calls you brilliant deserves a text back. A boy who [only] calls you hot probably can’t spell your last name correctly on the first try. You still hot though girl!
7. Prioritize fun. Please don’t get a tattoo on your forehead or blow off your biology practical, I’m NOT tryna get angry tweets from your mom. Just know that you are allowed to hang out with your friends on weekends and that you do not need to stress out over EVERY. SINGLE. ACADEMIC. THING. Zuckerberg didn’t even GRADUATE college and I heard that when he goes home he rolls around in hundred dollar bills and then throws himself down a gold-plated slide into a pool of nutella. Okay, I’m glad we covered this.
8. You’re probably going to get your heart broken and it’s going to feel like someone punched a hole through your chest. If you genuinely love the person (and you’ll know if you do), it’ll be worth it. Your best pals will always be there for you in the end.
9. Take advantage of your meal plan. Girl. GURL. GIIIIIRRRRL. I miss my friends and professors and community but you know what I REALLY miss? The unlimited food and coffee. The real world has none of that. When you graduate and go to networking events, business analysts give you judging Amy eyes when they see you shoving cans of Sprite into your bag. For the love of God and Kanye West, please take advantage of the free stuff.
10. Find and cherish a mentor. It can be a professor, a club moderator, a staff member, a team captain. Find someone older and wiser than you who is willing to guide you and be an advocate for you. Mentors usually become pals and the more loyal pals you have., the richer the college experience.
11. Cherish the little moments. Staying up late with your roommate, doing laundry at 3 a.m. with your floormate, participating in university-funded events that involve 4,000 freshmen girls going to see the latest Nicholas Sparks movie–enjoy this all.
When I was in college, everyone was OBSESSED with our president, Father Pilarz. He said,
“Stay that close, grow even closer. Dance at one another’s weddings, stand as godparents for each other’s kids. As a Jesuit friend of mine is fond of saying, ‘the conversation will get richer and the jokes will get funnier.’ Don’t waste love.”
College is the foundation of the love-fest that will later become your life. Savor the friendships, the discoveries, and the plethora of food. Don’t waste love.