It’s back-to-school season, which for many people means making the big move to college for freshman year. It’s stressful, terrifying and exciting all at one time. But it’s college, which are the real best four years of your life.
I was a really naive and innocent 18-year-old. I didn’t grow up with older siblings (or any siblings for that matter) and I wasn’t super social in high school. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was sheltered, but I had a lot to learn. But doesn’t everyone?
And you don’t always learn these things from personal experience. Lessons also come from watching and witnessing others’ habits and lives.
A letter to my freshman year of college self…
Featuring photos straight from my freshman year, untouched, unedited.
Dear 18-year-old Kate,
You’re moving to Blacksburg, Virginia, to spend the next four years at what you will soon believe is the best place on Earth. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t be (too) scared or nervous. Be excited. There’s a whole new world coming.
Read your class schedule correctly. Double-check it before you leave for your very first college class. Triple-check it, even. Don’t walk into the wrong classroom and make yourself late.
Forget about boys from home. They’re not worth your time. Ever.What would you tell your freshman-year self? #college Click To Tweet
Learn how to live with roommates. This will be especially difficult for you, because you’re an only child and never had to deal with sharing space with siblings growing up. Learn how to deal with roommate conflict–the good, the bad and the ugly–and do so amicably. There’s a time and place for cat fights, and roommate drama shouldn’t be one of those places. This is a skill that will take you very far in life.
Just get through those two little math and science classes. You won’t have to take math or science ever again after freshman year. Don’t stress yourself about making A’s. Just get through them. B’s are okay, too. You’re an English and communication double-major for a reason.
Freshman year boyfriends will happen. They’re not all bad. In fact, they may be very good. You’ll learn a lot from your first college boyfriend, like how mean your last high-school boyfriend actually was. But you’ll also learn how different dating can be in college because of the freedom, and that you deserve to be treated like a princess. Or you might learn that college guys aren’t actually as mature as you hoped they’d be. They’ll get better, though.
Don’t count on that first relationship lasting forever. It won’t. The breakup will suck–plain and simple–but treat it as a learning experience. You’ll be a much stronger person afterward. Everything in college is a learning experience.
Go to football games. Go to basketball games. They’ll be some of your best and favorite memories down the road.
You’re not above others because you don’t drink or go to raging parties. Ease up on the judging. You’re not perfect, either. But you can be a very dependable designated driver or designated walker.
Let the tired, hungover girl in your communication theory class follow along with your notes for a day. Reach out to her again the following week. Save her a seat when she’s late. She’ll become one of your best friends later.
Keep your friends close, your frenemies closer, and forget your enemies.What #advice would you give to your freshman-year self? Click To Tweet
Enjoy your nights alone in your dorm room. Drink your tea and turn on a movie while making study guides and taking notes. Being an introvert isn’t always a bad thing. But don’t be an introvert all the time.
College is the time for trying new things and pushing yourself. Do it. Join a music ensemble you never would have tried otherwise. Volunteer at special events and community service functions. Take that sociology or mythology class solely because they sound interesting. But also know when it’s time to dial it back or when something isn’t quite right.
On a similar note, your hair is fine the way it is. Do not try to go blonde again. It will look very bad when your dark brown roots start growing back.
Also, lose the tie-dye sunglasses.
Don’t let anyone pressure you into anything if it makes you the slightest bit uncomfortable. Learn how to firmly stand your ground and walk away when you need to.
Dress nicely often. You don’t have to dress to the absolute nines every single day, but put yourself together. You never know who you will meet or run into on campus.
Get enough sleep to feel functional and healthy. Once you fall behind on a sleep schedule, getting back to a normal one is a chore and a half.
And last but not least… Listen to your mother. She knows how life goes. She also knows you better than you think she does.
What advice would you give to your freshman year self?