After being out of school for a little more than three weeks, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to the fifteen most important things I learned during my first year at college.
About a year ago, I remember counting down the days until I would officially be considered a college student. I’m not sure about how it works in your family, but being a “college student” seems to be the golden ticket that allows you to join the “adult” table or conversations at family events. Even your parent’s work friends seem to treat you more like an adult, all because of you attending college and venturing into the unknown.
My first year at college was more than I could have ever imagined and I consider myself extremely blessed to have had such a great first year experience. Not everyone’s freshman year story is the same, and that is completely okay. To my sister and all the recent high school graduates that may be reading this, I just wanted to let you know that each of your upcoming years will be extremely different. It’s not a game about who can make your college experience seem more “successful” or “fun” on social media, but it’s about making your experience the best it can be… for you. With that being said, here are the top fifteen things I learned from my first year at college:
1. Everyone’s in the same boat… so don’t sink your ship.
It’s move in day; your parents are crying, you’re excited for them to leave, and thousands of other students are feeling the exact same. When your family finally waves goodbye, your stomach begins to sink and this feeling of “what do I do now” takes over. Don’t worry, hundreds of other students in your resident hall are feeling the exact way. So, what do you do now? You go out and talk to people. That one person in the hall that you will ask to get dinner with may become your best friend, or they may not and that’s okay too. Just put yourself out there and you’ll have no regrets.
2. If it’s for free… it’s for me.
Free stuff? Who doesn’t like free stuff? Starting from move-in day all the way until move-out day, the chances are that your college or university will be handing out tons of free stuff is pretty likely. I can’t tell you how many t-shirts I have that make the BEST pjs.
3. Broke college budgets are alive and well.
All of those hefty paychecks you may (or may not) have saved up for college will be gone sooner than you think. Budget your money wisely or else you’ll be a month into school begging for your parent’s help. Those “Mommmmyyyyyyyyyy…” or “Dadddddddyyyyyy…” phone calls can get old real quick.
4. “Do you wanna try a sample?”
I cannot tell you how many times that my friends and I would go to our local mall just to walk around the foodcourt begging for free samples. Yes, these samples would constitute as our dinner when we would get sick of dining hall food and no, this is not the healthiest thing to do. This is definitely more on the desperate end, but it’ll supply my best friends and I with a good laugh twenty years (or minutes) from now.
5. Get involved. Get involved. GET INVOLVED.
This is something that will have the BIGGEST affect on your college experience. Who actually remembers the Saturday morning’s that turned into waking up at 4PM? Personally, I was involved in an organization in which I had to get up at 7AM on some Saturday mornings just so I could be a volunteer tour guide for my school’s Open Houses… and it was the best decision I made. Being a part of a club or organization that allows you to get involved around your university can be a game changer. Not only did it allow me to meet some of my forever best friends, but it allowed me to really feel like I had an impact around my campus. If you’re looking to go hide in your dorm or apartment 24/7 great, but I can promise you that your freshman year experience will be more memorable if you get involved.
6. You WILL have professors that will scare you into having perfect attendance.
I will never forget one of my first accounting professors that legitimately scared me into having perfect attendance. Ask me what my favorite class was this year? Yep, surprisingly that class. I won’t lie, unless I really couldn’t be in class, I had perfect attendance in most of my classes. That’s because I realized that if I’m paying hundreds and thousands of dollars to be in a class, then I better be there. It’s all about having a good return on investment…
7. “Hey, my name’s Collette and I’m your neighbor”
Life has a funny way of working out, and so does meeting your best friends in college. You WILL meet your future bridesmaids/best friends/3AM ice cream buddies/and new sisters in college. Who would have ever thought that the girl sitting outside my door on FaceTime on the second day of school would become my BEST friend? Mind you, she did nearly scare my half to death when she jumped up off the hallway floor to introduce herself… and then continue to barge into my room two seconds after I was able to unlock my door… so don’t be surprised if something like that happens to you as well. (P.S. I love you Collette.)
8. Save money for off-campus dining.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Yes, you will get sick of your campus dining halls. It’s inevitable.
9. If you don’t party, you’re not weird.
This one may not be for everyone, but I’m here to tell my fellow “non-partying weirdos” that it’s okay to not get black out drunk every weekend in college. I went to one basement party in my entire freshman year of college and I’m pretty sure that I stood in the corner the whole. entire. night. Just because I didn’t drink didn’t make me an outsider and it won’t make you one either. To be perfectly honest, I had the most amazing freshman year and not once did it include spending a weekend hungover.
10. Make sure your professors know your name.
If you had a professor at the beginning of the year and six months later he/she still knows your name, you’ve done something right. Your professors can be some of your biggest mentors and greatest advisors. Don’t forget, you’ll never know when you’ll need an amazing letter of recommendation or internship opportunity down the line.
11. Explore your college surroundings.
I attend school that is in the middle of a mini city. Some of my favorite memories were not on campus but instead, they were exploring different places to take pictures for my blog, going and trying different food around the city, and finding undiscovered areas to go and relax. You’ll most likely be calling the town or city that your college or university is located in “home” for the next four years, so explore it.
12. “Most college students change their major multiple times”
I cannot stress how true this statement is. From starting as a Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management major, to switching to a Business Administration major, to finally ending up as an Accounting major… I can confidently say that I have had more than enough experience changing my life plan on multiple different occasions.
13. Enjoy every moment.
You only have one freshman year of college… enjoy every moment. These will be some of the best year’s of your life so don’t rush it away. I still cannot believe I’m already done with my first year at my university.
14. Don’t change.
Just like in high school, there may be pressures to fit in with a certain crowd, but don’t. Stand up for yourself, be true to yourself, and embrace yourself. This first year of school is all about finding yourself, so once you have figured out who you are and what makes you happy, don’t jeopardize that for anyone or anything.
15. Thank the people who made your dream of attending your first year of college a reality.
Thank you to my high school best friends, my family, my brother, my sister, and my parents for making this past year the greatest ride of a lifetime. I owe it all to you.
~Layne Marie Kingman