As a rising Junior in college, I always get asked about my “journey” throughout college. How did I make friends? What was the transition like from high school? How did you get used to living away from home? Especially now with a sister who is going to be a freshman this fall, I find myself often giving some of my insights on what to keep in mind when going into a new university or institute of higher education. Without a doubt, the summer before going to college was one of the most stressful and nerve racking times of my life. I had no idea where I would live, who I would live with, who my friends would be, and who I would become. I had an identity I was comfortable with in high school, but how would college mold me? My mind was experiencing constant stress, and I wish who I am now could talk to the kid I was 2 years ago. So, if you are that same, stressed rising college student, let me give you some tips to ease your mind before entering your freshman year at college.
Everyone is in the same position!
For me, this is the biggest thing I wished I fully realized as an 18 year old. All freshmen are in the same position and will have to face the same obstacles as you. Classes, making friends, finding your way around, and adjusting in general is something EVERYONE has to do — not just you. Oftentimes, I’ve found that some feel as if they are less capable than other students, but trust me that everyone is feeling the same way and shares the same concerns. So, make connections with others about those shared concerns. Some of the best friends I have made were a result of being confused or sharing similar concerns about transitioning. Embrace the transition and appreciate the challenge of university life.
Be confident in who you are, and who you want to be.
You will meet so many different types of people in college. As mentioned before, I knew who I was in high school and was very comfortable in my own skin. I was legitimately terrified that I would change or associate myself with people who would be a bad influence on me or distract me from my goals. Know what you want in your friends so you can actively seek those who will support you, rather than leading you astray during your college years. Be confident in who you are and where you want to go in life. As cliche as it sounds, you should be the CEO of your own life — hiring, promoting, and firing people in your life that don’t benefit you.
This is by far the most basic tip and probably the one you have heard the most, but it really helps. Oftentimes there will be club fairs and events where you are introduced to different activities going on around campus. Take advantage of that time and sign up for anything that peaks your interest. You are not obligated to one club when you sign up — everyone understands that you are looking for your “people.” In my case, I knew I loved sports and loved talking about them, so I signed up for the sports radio. Some of my best friends and favorite moments of my college career have been facilitated by the decision to sign up for the radio. Dabble in everything you can, and you will immerse yourself into the culture and people of your community.
Make a schedule for yourself, and live by it
College is a time of complete freedom and independence. You technically don’t need to go to class, get involved, or interact with anyone if you don’t want to. However, part of being successful in college is being disciplined enough to make a schedule for yourself to handle classes and clubs. Outline what you want to do and when you want to do. Especially freshman year, you have to develop good habits that will foster success. Be organized and stay motivated by mapping out your days.
Like everything in life, college is about balance. You should be focused on doing well in school and keeping your long term goals in mind — but college is also the only time you will be surrounded by so many of your friends and opportunities to enjoy yourself. Now, I’m not saying go party every night. But, you should try and have fun and create memories! The ability to balance yourself is a skill you must practice, and you should find a healthy medium between fun and work. This way, you are successful and can look back fondly on your college years with memories that will last a lifetime.