By: Jessica Rogers, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore
The following blog post was originally featured on The Blog of Jessica. Photo: Jessica (right) and friend (left) graduate from Nash Central High School in 2014.
Dear college freshmen,
Wow… even though you are all still in school right now, you have officially gained the title here at college as “the new freshmen”. You’re mere months away from moving away from home and starting a new chapter of your life!
A year ago, I was right where you are. I had no idea what this next year had in store for me. I was excited, I was scared, I was depressed, I was every feeling you could possibly imagine and more. And secretly, I bet you feel like that, too.
So, as you play your final sports matches, perform in your final school musicals, and finish up those last exams, I wanted to give you some advice that I wish someone had told me at this point last year.
Don’t pack more than you need. You’ll be happily surprised at how little you can live off of. And you’ll be thankful for the space in your dorm room.
The freshman 15 WILL happen. No matter how much you try to avoid it, there’s a 9 in 10 chance that it will happen. It just comes from living a new lifestyle and the stress that comes with it. You’ll get rid of it soon. Don’t let it stress you out.
Communicate with your roommate. Set boundaries and know each other’s pet peeves. More importantly, KNOW YOUR PET PEEVES BEFORE YOU GO TO COLLEGE. I cannot stress that enough.
You are at college to learn. That should always come first.
….but also, know when to take a break from school, step back, and have fun. Watch Netflix. Go sit in a dining hall with your best friends for 3 hours. Go out partying at least once. Don’t be afraid of letting loose a little bit.
The schoolwork will be challenging. You’ll feel like giving up. Don’t. And don’t feel bad if you start feeling like you can’t do it, that’s natural. Just believe that you can, and you will.
But also, don’t be afraid of change. If you feel strongly like you need to change your major, go for it, but only if you know that it’s what you want and it is what will make you happy.
Absolutely NO ONE has their life together, but everyone likes to fake like they do. Don’t let them fool you. Don’t feel bad if you feel lost or stressed, everyone else does, too. You’re all in this together, going through the exact same transition at the same time.
It is perfectly okay to go home. If you go home over breaks, that’s awesome. If you go home once a month, cool. Once a week, still awesome. Sometimes in the middle of the week? As long as you’re back for class. If you feel like you need to go home, don’t be ashamed.
(And if absolute worst comes to worst, and you decide that college isn’t for you right now, it is always okay to go home.)
You are going to be around the same people for long periods of time. You are going to love most of them, but there will be a few that make you want to scream. Learn how to adapt and cope with that kind of energy. It’s hard, but you’ll get it eventually.
Don’t lock yourself in your dorm room for longer than 8 hours at a time (unless you are sleeping). Get out, hang out with friends, do some laundry, take a walk, go to the library, anything just to keep your blood flowing and your social energy alive.
Let’s face it, 80% of college kids drink alcohol, and you may want to as well. It’s your decision, but know the risks going in, especially since you are underage. Keep in mind that if you are caught underage drinking, you can lose scholarships, respect, even admission into the school.
If you do decide to drink, and it is your first time drinking, make sure it is in a safe place with people you trust. Large parties are absolutely NOT the place to drink for the first time. Watch your drink being made. Keep it in your watch at all times. Drink lots and lots of water. Make sure you eat before. Do everything that you possibly can to make sure that you stay as safe and as in control as possible.
And I swear, if I find out that any of you are drinking and driving, I will come find you and kill you if your stupidity doesn’t do it first. You risk not only your life, but also the lives of the people you pass on your way home. It’s a selfish act and absolutely unacceptable. Find a trusted DD or stay wherever you are until you are sober.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. They are mainly around to help you grow. They will answer your questions and be your guide as you attempt to pass their class.
And my small pieces of fun advice: save the number of every delivery person who calls you, so you know exactly who is giving you your food each time. (Lots of delivery guys are SUPER cute, so you need to know when to be presentable.) Do not pick up dollar bills off the street. If you stick around in Starbucks a few hours, you can usually pick up a free drink that someone abandoned at some point. If you eat Chick-Fil-A every day, you will get sick of Chick-Fil-A. Going into a 24 hours grocery store at 2:00am or later is a good idea maybe once.
But finally, and this is the big one, do not be afraid to let go. As you finish high school, you’re going to want to hold on to those times forever, because right now, they’re the best times you have. College will be so much better, but in order to embrace it, you have to truly let go of high school.
It’s a proven fact that 25% of high school friendships last through the first year of college. You will lose some of your friends. That’s okay, you’ve got amazing friends coming. You and your younger boyfriend/girlfriend will try the long-distance thing, and there’s a high probability that it will fail. That’s okay, there’s more fish in the sea. You will return to your high school, and you will see that your AP classes, your drama department, your sports team, etc, are doing great without you, and it’s going to make you upset. That’s okay, you are off doing bigger and better things. It’s all about learning to accept that what’s gone is gone, and while you can remember the good times, you have to embrace the new world you’re about to live.
Get ready for the most intense yet rewarding year of your life. You’re going to feel on top of the world at some points, and at other points you will want to crawl into a hole and die. But in the end, you get to come out knowing that you conquered living on your own and being an adult. At least for now.
And if you ever need any help or advice, you know where to find me.
All the best, and good luck!
Jessica Rogers, your newest college sophomore