I’m entering into my senior year (technically) of college. I’m actually debating on adding another major, so I could still be in it for the long haul. That doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a lot, however. Now I want to pass on some of my knowledge– no matter how incomplete and imperfect it may be–to you!
I know how scary everything can be. New places, new faces, new teachers, new experiences. “New” can be scary, but “new” can also be wonderfully exciting! I’m here to help ease your worries and help get you excited about all the new stuff you’ll inevitably encounter.
Without further ado, here are some of my tips to conquering college–we’re not merely surviving here.
Have A Motto/Mantra
This just got really cheesy really quick. Let me explain:
My freshman year of college, I was scared out of my mind. I had a volleyball scholarship and something to prove to myself, my coaches, and my friends and family back home. I also just wanted to have fun and find myself; I was ready to figure everything out and really make it on my own. I was moving pretty far away from the comfort of my hometown, and I was terrified of the homesickness that I was sure would inevitably come. I wanted success at this college thing, and I wanted it now.
Here’s a secret: nothing worth having comes easy. But that doesn’t mean your enthusiasm should change.
My mom emphasized this as we had endless talks leading up to my departure. She said she didn’t give a rip roar if I played or not, or if I was perfect coming out of the gate. The only thing that should matter was my effort and my enthusiasm. Momma whipped out a copy of a newspaper article about my grandpa (a football coach in his day) with the headline: “[Grandfather’s Name]: Hard to Discourage.” She said not everything would be peachy keen, but I had to try my best to be “hard to discourage.” Effort and enthusiasm.
I wrote “Hard to Discourage” underneath an old photo of my grandpa and hung it in my dorm room. That single saying got me through rough practices, lonely days, and tedious study nights. It truly helped me transition from the effortless halls of high school to the slightly more laborious college classes. “Hard to discourage” reminded me to tackle each day with a vigor and a vim; I was hardly homesick and really made an effort to be the most upbeat, enthusiastic version of myself each and every day.
Choose a motto that means something to you and cling to it for dear life. It can help you focus on your goals and help keep you grounded when you’re trying to figure out life on your own.
Find Your Niche
The glorious thing about college is that nobody cares what you do. I don’t mean breaking the law and all that jazz. I mean something much more authentic; I truly think college is a place where being the version of you in which you are undeniably yourself is a little bit easier.
The moment I stepped into my first English class (I’m a proud English major) I immediately felt at home. I can talk about books with my English peeps, about musicals and other nerdy things, and just truly be myself. I’m a girl who loves to read and talk about my obsession with Disney and Idina Menzel and Sutton Foster and Parks and Recreation and Gilmore Girls. I feel like I’ve found a group of people who will listen and reciprocate the love. Our English club meetings are a blast: pizza and literary talk and nerdy tangents. My heart’s happy just thinking about it.
Find what interests you and find that group of people on campus who have similar interests. Often they’re within your major. Sometimes there’s an obscure club that you feel inclined to join. Don’t worry about what’s “acceptable” by societal standards–I believe most of those don’t exist in college. Go out and be yourself and find people who love what you love. They are there; it just takes a little bit of looking around.
Know You’re Not Alone
Every single college freshman is scared. Just know that you’re not alone in this process–far from it. Your friends from home are going through the same thing. Take comfort in this unspoken solidarity; It’s a comfort to sit next to your classmate who’ve you just met and just revel in the knowledge that your experiences could be adding up; chances are they’re scared about the same thing. All college freshmen are in it together–they’re all trying to figure out how to work the laundry machines, eat a decent meal in the cafeteria, or sleep while their roommates are snoring. Take comfort in knowing that every college senior (like me) went through exactly what you’re going through and survived. You can do this. I know it.
My favorite thing about back-to-school has got to the be the fresh school supplies. I love seeking out pens with Disney characters on them, a new planner, maybe a fresh laptop cover. Get excited about the stuff. Who doesn’t love stuff?!
Work Hard and Love It
You’re going to college to get an education, first and foremost. Find a major you love. I know it’s weird, but I truly love the feeling of planning, drafting, and writing a paper because I love my major. Hard work becomes easier when you know you are truly enjoying every second.
Strive to do your best in the class room. You won’t regret the headaches and the studying when you have that 4.0 at the end of the semester.
Relax–Take it All In
Do everything you want–football games, all-nighters with some pizza involved, trying out for a university theater production, anything you want. You’re only a college freshman once, so really go after everything with a newbie-esque enthusiasm. Try everything (lets keep it legal, here), do everything (legal, people!) and be anything you want. This is your fresh start. Your college experience. And, as the Division II NCAA slogan suggests, “Make it yours!”
Now that I’ve written the most cliché college post ever, I want to wish everyone a happy “back-to-school.” If you’re a college freshman, just know that everything will be ok. Sometimes the worst part is the anticipation of all the “new.” Instead of worrying, embrace it. You only get to anxiously anticipate your freshman year once, so you might as well enjoy it.