Senior year is finally over, congratulations! You’re about to begin a whole new chapter of your life. You have been waiting for this fresh start for what seems like ages, and it is FINALLY here! College is full of exciting experiences, new beginnings, and a whole lot of craziness that you’re going to learn to love. So many things in your life are about to change, and it can be really scary at times.
Freshman year is about trying to find your place, the little niche where you fit in. It is a time of finding yourself, finding your passions, and figuring out what is best for you. You will move into the dorms in a few weeks, and 8 months later (but what feels like the blink of an eye), you will move out a changed person. Make the most of this incredible time and begin creating the rest of your life that you have always wanted!
As my own freshman year winds down I figured I’d share a few tips for about the exciting first year and things that I have learned that might help make your upcoming freshman year the amazing experience that it should be!
You don’t have to get involved in everything
When you get to school and go through all the fun orientations throughout the first few weeks, you are going to be exposed to TONS of different clubs and activities. It can be overwhelming because everyone says you need to get involved your freshman year, so you want to do everything. Try a bunch of things out and see what feels like the best fit, but ultimately, find a couple of clubs that are interesting, and have people you click with. Stick to being really engaged in those, and that is how you will make close friendships and find your sense of belonging.
Between social events, papers and exams, and finding time to work out or have some personal time, your schedule is going to be hectic. The only way to keep everything in order and to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed is to write everything down. Prioritize what you need to do and have a plan of how you’re going to tackle your busy schedule.
Eat healthy and go to the gym
When you are on your own schedule and budget, it is really easy to fall out of a good workout routine and have poor eating habits. Make time to go to the gym and try your best to eat well. Having a healthy body really does make for a happier mind. With that being said, remember that it is PERFECTLY NORMAL to gain a little weight freshman year, so don’t beat yourself up if the “Freshman 15” happens to you!
Save your money
Buying a $5 cup of coffee or going out for dinner every night starts to add up, especially when you are not working or only working part-time! Once you start to make some money, you will realize how hard it is to earn it, so save it! It is also way more rewarding to save up and treat yourself to something you really want than to squander your money on meaningless daily luxuries.
You don’t HAVE to be a part of Greek life
But if you decide to be, make sure you find the organization that is right for you! Sometimes there can be a lot of pressure to join a sorority or fraternity and you might get the idea that Greek life is the only way to go out to parties or to make a lot of friends. This is definitely NOT true. If Greek life sounds like fun, try it, but if it is not for you, there is no shame in dropping out! If you decide to join, remember to find the one that seems like the best fit; don’t get caught up in being a part of a sorority that is the “prettiest” or “most popular” because that won’t mean much when you are trying to build lifelong friendships!
Major in something you love, not something that will only make you money
Once you get to college, you are going to realize that your future has endless possibilities, and there is a way to make money in any industry that you get involved in. If you pick a major that you love, you will be 1000x more passionate and engaged, and that is the key to being successful.
Be friends with older students
Be sure to branch out of your comfort zone and make friends with students in the years ahead of you. If you befriend older students, they will be great mentors and open your eyes to how great college can be now and in a few years. The more you expand the types of people you are friends with, the more you will realize that diversity is awesome!
Talk to your parents
Your first year away from home is going to be a whirlwind of activity – new friends, new classes, the excitement of being on your own. It is easy to get caught up in your newfound independence, but make sure to keep in touch with your parents. They love to hear from you, and it is nice to have some familiarity and love in a place of uncertainty. No one is going to know and love you like your parents, so be sure to continue to foster that relationship.
You don’t HAVE to ditch your high school friends and boyfriend
Sure, college is a great time for a fresh start, but that doesn’t mean you have to relinquish all the people who have been in your life up until this point. Grow with your high school friends or boyfriend and go through these changes together. If someone is holding you back or preventing you from embracing these amazing changes, then by all means, let them go! Just be sure not to lose those great people in your life because you think that college is all about new beginnings.
Create time to do the things that you love
For a lot of us, going to college means giving up the things that we have done for our entire lives. Your life really does change a ton. Just because you aren’t playing competitive volleyball anymore, dancing every day at your studio, or working on your high school’s newspaper diligently doesn’t mean you should give up those passions.
Take the time to find a dance class, join an intramural team, write for fun! You’re going to become interested in a ton of new things, but you will regret it if you let go of the ones that you love. There is a place for old and new interests in your life, and doing something you’re passionate about is a great escape when life gets a little challenging.
Lastly, enjoy the beginning of this new chapter in your life, because freshman year is going to fly by!
Also published on Medium.