I am graduating college in 9 days and I think I'm growing out of the "freak out and cry every time one of your friends talks about graduation" stage.
I'm not by any means saying I've accepted the fact that college is over (I don't think that will happen for at least a year!), but I'm coming to terms with it.
I was thinking back to my freshman year and there are so many things I wish some wise upperclassman had told me. Don't get me wrong, I think learning from your mistakes and finding your own way is a huge part of surviving going away to school, but there are some things that I want current/future freshmen to know so that maybe their experience is just a little bit better.
1. The people you meet the first week of freshman year are not going to be those lifelong college friends that your future kids call "aunts" and "uncles." Yes, there are those rare circumstances where you get paired with a roommate who you absolutely love the second you meet her and never leave each others sides until the day of graduation, but chances are that won't happen to you. You'll meet some party animals that only socialize under the influence of some sort of substance, a real bitchy girl that steals all the cute boys away, and of course the one kid that fails out after a semester. All of these people will definitely make your experience memorable, but by no means will you be stuck with them for the next 4 years. I didn't meet some of my closest college friends until I joined an on-campus organization in the middle of my sophomore year.
2. College friends are about quality, not quantity. I know it seems like you need to strut into the dining hall every day with a million other people or always head over to parties with the most fabulous group of girls, but you don't. Making friends in college seems daunting, but don't settle for just anyone (see #1). So find friends that you feel like you really connect with and don't worry about having a lot of friends. Join a club, sorority, or intramural sports team and find people who share the same interests as you. That way, you won't be stuck in a group of 20 people you don't know that well and wonder if any of them would really be there for you if you needed help. Plus, the smaller your group of friends, the easier it is when you have to find somewhere to live off-campus!
3. DO NOT buy all your textbooks brand new. I made this mistake my freshman year and could've saved a ton of money. The school book store makes it seem like they are the only place to buy books in the world and therefore can charge an arm and a leg to get some books that you might only open once or twice over the course of the semester! Do some research and see if you can get used books or even rent from a place like Chegg. That way, you save a ton of money and don't have a random Art History textbook that you paid over $150 for sitting in your dorm room unopened at the end of the semester.
4. Get involved. I cannot stress this enough. My freshman year, I made friends very quickly my first week of school and felt like that was all I needed for the rest of my time here. Fast-forward a couple months and I felt like I needed a little more than just a group of guys and girls that I ate meals with and went to parties with on the weekends. So, my sophomore year I joined a service organization on campus and never looked back. I made a ton of new friends in addition to my old ones and really felt like I was making something of my time here. Although some organizations, such as mine, take up a large portion of your week and make it challenging to balance school, activities, and friends, I would never do it differently. I also got involved in some other small projects and I found that by doing this you not only make tons of friends with the same interests as you, but you also get the opportunity to network and potentially make connections with future employers.
5. Be open minded. I had attended Catholic school my entire life, so going from wearing a uniform every day and seeing girls who all came from the same area as me to a public university's campus was a big culture shock to me. You experience people from all different walks of life when you attend college, and I don't think I was really prepared for it. I immediately made friends with people who were no different than any of my friends at home. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but I kept to myself and didn't really socialize a whole lot in my classes or anything like that for the first few months, and because of this I never really expanded my horizons. After I joined my aforementioned organization, I realized how eye-opening and rewarding it is to socialize with people who weren't the same as me. Experiencing people with different lifestyles teaches you a lot about yourself and if you take one thing from this post, just be open minded and accept everyone. You never know, that girl who seems to have opposing views and lives a completely different lifestyle than you could end up being the best friend you've ever had.
What do you wish you knew freshman year?