At this time last summer, I was getting ready for my first year of college through many trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and HomeGoods. Among all of the packing prep, there’s only so much to do before arriving at school. Looking back a year later, there are so many things that I wish I knew before college.
1. College is a New Chapter
One of the greatest things about starting college is that it’s a complete blank slate. Take this opportunity to be your truest self without worrying what people will think.
2. Do Not Pack your Entire Wardrobe
For some reason, I went into college thinking I was going to change up my style completely and needed to bring an excessive amount of clothes. Realistically, you’re probably going to end up wearing whatever is most comfortable to class. Don’t pack all of your thick winter clothes in August because they take up way too much room and you won’t need them for months.
3. Housing is Not a Big Deal
Before going to school, you typically hear all about the dorms and their reputations. I didn’t get the dorm that I wanted and was devastated. Looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to live anywhere else. The dorm that I was assigned ended up being the best fit for me, and I had some of the best times there. So take it from the girl who freaked out about housing, it all works out.
4. You Won’t Get All of the Classes You Want
I’m not really sure who I thought I was, thinking I would get all of my desired classes as a first semester freshman. Similar to the dorming situation, classes will work out. Even if you hate some of your classes, you will get requirements out of the way.
5. Save Money
Another misconception I had was that I would always be on campus and never have to spend money. Little did I know, I was off campus way more than I thought. My friends and I loved going out for dinner once in a while or even to go food shopping. Trust me, uber rides and food adds up fast.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. Whether you ask a professor for help regarding class or ask an upperclassman questions about campus life, it can’t hurt. If you need help or guidance, I guarantee there will be many supportive people willing to help.
7. Your Family is Only a Call Away
For those like me, who are extremely close to their family and are worried about leaving, they’re only a call, text, or FaceTime away. While it’s totally normal to be homesick, it’s comforting to know that it’s very easy to get in touch with your family.
8. Take Advantage of Resources
When you first get to school, you might be overwhelmed with the amount of information you’ll receive about the different resources your school has to offer. When you finally settle in, it’s important to look into your school’s resources and take advantage of them. Most of the time, they’re extremely helpful and usually free (a huge plus for mom and dad!)
9. Work Hard but Not at the Expense of Your Happiness
Depending on your high school, the transition from a high school workload to a college one can vary. Nevertheless, the college workload can be intimidating. It’s crucial to put in the work, time, and effort to do well. However, there is an important balance. Don’t spend all of your hours isolated in the library. College is a time to meet new people and find yourself. Make sure your work isn’t overpowering your happiness.
10. You’re Going to Get Sick
When you’re living in such close corners with so many people, it’s almost a given that you’re going to get sick. As long as you bring all the necessities (NyQuill, Allegra, Advil, and Flonase), you’ll be set.
11. Not Everyone is Going to Like You
It’s completely normal to not be liked by everyone you meet. Don’t spend your time trying to prove yourself or please everyone.
12. You’ll Meet So Many Types of People
I can’t speak for anyone but myself when I say that I grew up in a bubble. My town was very homogeneous; most people were of similar race, ethnicity, and background overall. Growing up surrounded by the same people wasn’t healthy for me, and I finally was able to escape that bubble at college. You’re going to meet so many different people who come from different backgrounds, maybe speak different languages, and have different beliefs than you. It’s really incredible to branch out and be open minded.
13. Find Things That you Like to Do Alone
When you’re living, studying, eating, and hanging out with people at school, it’s important to make time for yourself. Believe it or not, even the most social person needs alone time. Finding things that you enjoy doing by yourself to unwind is extremely important.
14. Word Travels Fast
I’m not sure if this can be applicable to everyone but it definitely is for me. As a student of a relatively small college, I can attest that word travels fast. Don’t create a bad reputation for yourself.
15. You Don’t Need to Wear Makeup to Class
If you love to wear makeup to class, keep on doing it. Personally, this was a huge change for me. In high school, I used to wake up an hour before leaving the house to do my makeup and get ready. Because this was my routine for so long, I felt obligated to wear makeup to school everyday. Going into college, I wanted to make an effort to show my truest self to people and not hide my flaws. Believe me, you won’t end up wearing tons of makeup to class. Like I said, if you love to do it and it makes you more confident, props to you.
16. Time Management Doesn’t Just Relate to School
In college, time management is a whole other ballpark than high school. In high school, I’d manage my time between schoolwork and clubs, but there are so many more responsibilities to manage in college. I never thought that I’d have to juggle days of going to the library to do work, taking a break to do laundry, and squeezing in the gym while waiting for my laundry in the dryer. Knowing how to use your time wisely is crucial.
17. Allow Yourself to be Vulnerable
College is a huge growth period. Although being vulnerable is one of the scariest acts, it could bring a lot of opportunity to your college experience. On the other hand, being vulnerable can also leave us feeling hurt. In the long run, letting your guard down and learning from your experiences is extremely valuable to your growth.
18. Always be a Good Friend
While the first year of college is exciting and incredible, it can also be scary and intimidating. However, having support from friends makes the journey so much easier and comforting. You want to be known as a caring and reliable friend. If your friend is having a hard time, be there for him/her.
19. Everything Happens for a Reason
I know everyone hates hearing this on the other end when things don’t go according to plan, but it’s true. A class you accidentally signed up for could become your new favorite field of study. You might have never created such strong bonds with people if you hadn’t lived in the “bad dorm.” You might fall in love. You can form close friendships. You might feel lost at times. At the end of the day, everything happens for a reason and everything will settle into place.