1. Home and the importance of family: When I was a freshman in high school I’d often remark that I wished life had a ‘fast-forward’ button so I could just graduate and go off to college. After four vigorous years of high school, I travelled over 7,000 miles away from home to pursue a college degree. While I knew the transition would be a challenge, it wasn’t until we said our goodbyes that I realized how hard it would be. Bottom line: Nothing is as valuable as family. (And yes, mom is always right.)
2. Avoid Procrastinating: We spent most of high school dealing with the urge to put off assignments in order to take that 10 minute (read: two hour) nap, or to catch up on Netflix, and now convince ourselves we have time. Unfortunately, high school and college are very different experiences. You are already dealing with a greater sense of freedom and independence. It is now completely in your hands to make sure you do what needs to be done. Time management is essential.
3. It will take time to meet the “right” group: Students entering college for the first time have already spent four years of high school getting used to a certain environment. Now, you have to call a new place home for the next four years but it all seems uncomfortably unfamiliar. When you get to college, everyone is especially eager to make new friends, but do not expect the first group of people you meet in college to be your best friends for life. In most cases, this does not happen, but that’s okay. The right group of friends will come around soon enough and it will definitely be worth the wait.
4. Budget your money: You are in sole custody of your finances, and if this wasn’t the case before, it can be a little hard to manage your funds. Make wise decisions and understand that need >want. ALWAYS.
5. You will change your major: Even for the people who think—or thought—they had their whole lives figured out, newsflash: you probably don’t! Before I came to college I was certain I wanted to major in biology; when I got here I was overwhelmed by the range of fields I could study and instead decided that I would major in neuroscience. By the end of my first semester, neuroscience didn’t feel like the right thing anymore. Halfway through second semester I am now considering a major in film studies.
6. Your failures will teach you just as much as your successes: After my first semester of college, I have had my fair share of failures and successes, but I have come to believe your greatest successes do in fact come after your failures. If you don’t fail… you’re probably not trying hard enough. Take it in stride and make it into an experience.
7. Take care of yourself: All-nighters and energy drinks are not your best friends. Finals week found me glued to the sofa in the common room with three cans of Red Bull and two hours of sleep. Bad idea! Your body needs its sleep; get your eight hours and make sure you eat healthy and exercise.
8. Be realistic: Do not set yourself up for something you will not follow through with. If you’re not a morning person, do not take morning classes. Don’t decide that you want to be president of four different organizations and take 28 credits in one semester if you know you will not be able to put in the time or the effort. You are only setting yourself up for disaster.
9. Go after what you want: Don’t decide you want to double major in astrophysics and mathematics with a double minor in Latin and computer science just because that’s what your great great grandfather did, but also don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
10. It will take time, but make the most of it: The college experience is rather over-glorified. Growing up I heard numerous stories about how college was going to be the best four years of my life. Naturally, I had unrealistic expectations about what college would be like and found myself falling through the cracks for the majority of my first semester. College is a huge transition and it will take time. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some, but while you’re here, just make the most of it!