The sixth anniversary of when I moved into my freshman dorm is approaching. On the 18th of August in 2009, my parents and myself hauled all my crap up three flights of stairs to my third floor, stairwell situated dorm room. I was there early and leaving soon to go on the retreat for my scholarship, but as I set up my bedding and tv and slid my trunk under the bed with my phone and laptop and clicked the lock into place, I had no idea what the next four years would bring me. All I knew was that I was at the same college as my Bear, who was also preparing for a retreat with his scholarship people. I was excited, thrilled to be there.
It should go without saying that a lot happened during my college years, a lot changed, including myself. If I could come up with some pieces of wisdom to pass on to the new generation of college freshmen, what would I say? Well, for starters, I’d say I know the chances of this actually sinking in are pretty slim. I was pretty hardheaded and headstrong when I was 18 years old. I was respectful to my elders and listened to others, but I thought I knew what I was doing.
There’s been a lot of advice like this floating around this year for some reason, but the one thing everyone else has been saying that I absolutely, one hundred percent, without a doubt agree with is that the people you hang out with during the first week or three aren’t necessarily the ones you’ll be friends with for the rest of your college career. For the first time in thirteen years, we’re all on even playing ground. We don’t know hardly anyone else. We’re all experimenting and trying each other out, for the experience of it and to see if we can develop lifelong friendships. That’s not to say you won’t be friendly with these people after the first few weeks, but they’re not going to be the ones you pull all nighters with.
Pick a bedtime, for the love of all that is holy and good. That is one big mistake I made my freshman year, and it followed me through the next four years. It’s easy when you’re new to college to get caught up in the freedom of it and not go to bed at a reasonable time. Trust me when I say, staying up to ungodly hours loses its appeal over time. Being fully rested, on the other hand, doesn’t.
Be open to new experiences, going places and doing things with people you don’t know that well. Use common sense to protect yourself, of course. But a 11pm Waffle House run with a group of friends is fun. Just don’t make it a habit. The freshmen 15 is no joke and definitely not a myth.
Take all the classes you can that interest you. Understand that the chances of you actually using your degree for something in that field are not as high as you might first think. So learn all you can while you can, because life is going to take you down roads you never expected, so enjoy the ride.
This one should be obvious, but it’s harder than you might think. Bear and I both agree on this one: Go to class. When you’re in college and attendance policies may or may not be in place, it’s easy to skip. A mental health day here and there is okay, but be very, VERY careful not to make it a habit. Skipping class can become an easy habit and one that’s very hard to break. This will hurt you in the long run, even if your grades don’t seem to suffer very much.
If you are 18 and attending college without having to work a full time job or have a similar type of stress added to your plate, enjoy the freedom. College is a type of freedom you will never have again once you graduate. Enjoy it while it lasts, but be respectful of your parents’ position in all of this and don’t be too frivolous with your spending. And for gods’ sake, DO NOT GET A CREDIT CARD. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD IT ON YOUR OWN, YOU DO NOT NEED IT. You will likely have enough trouble with student loans when you graduate without adding that to the mix. Just keep that in mind. Student loans are NO JOKE. Take them seriously.
Be respectful of others you live with/near. Whether it is in a dorm or an apartment, keep your music down when the people around you may be trying to sleep. Take out your trash and do your laundry regularly. And for the sake of the whole building sharing three or four washers/dryers, do not leave your crap unattended once that cycle is complete. Come get your crap. There’s nothing more aggravating than waiting on a washer and someone has left their crap sitting in it for hours. You will eventually come down to find your stuff on the floor or table, if someone is nice enough. Set an alarm on your phone if you have to, so you know when to come get your stuff. That’s what I had to do.
There’s probably a lot more I could add to this, but if you’ve made it this far, I commend your attention span. Thank you for reading. If you want to talk more about what you might can expect from college, find me on Twitter @Carolina_Kel. I’d be happy to share more nuggets of wisdom if I can. Everything except how to get a fake ID. I never went down that road and it’s just asking for trouble. Do yourself a favor and be smart. Don’t do anything that could get you in big enough trouble to get arrested or kicked out of school. Seriously.
Also, for more info, you can check out the Thirsty Thursday feature I ran on here back in May. Four posts about college life. Check it out.
Kelswitch, over and out.