Looking back on my first year of college, I find myself cringing at the countless mistakes I made and presumptions I had about what Freshman year would be like. With this, I can't help but notice how much I learned from those mistakes and what I would do differently if I knew what I know now. Here are some things I wish I knew before going into my Freshman year of college.
The Freshman 15 Isn't Just a Myth
I hate to break it to you, but the Freshman 15 is actually a real thing; and it happened to me. As an athlete throughout my entire high school career, I was in really good shape and sports helped me maintain my weight. With this being said, I ate whatever I wanted and rarely worked out the first semester of my Freshman year. I dismissed the infamous "Freshman 15" as a myth, and didn't realize that I would actually gain weight. Here are a few things I wish I knew that could've avoided this:
- You will have to exercise or at least eat healthier. Even if it's only a short jog on the treadmill everyday, exercise will benefit you physically and mentally.
- Ordering Domino's at midnight ever other day may sound like a good idea in the moment, but it will slowly contribute to that unwanted weight gain. Everything in moderation! Treat yourself every once in a while with take out but try to avoid doing it all the time.
- Keep healthy snacks in your room. Having chips or cookies in your room makes it easy to overeat when stress or boredom creeps up on you. This can be avoided if you keep healthy snacks on hand, and will encourage you to eat more filling and balanced meals at D-Hall or Hawk's.
Everyone is Just as Nervous as You Are
Although some of the other Freshmen may seem more prepared than you or less nervous than you, it's important to remember that everyone is going through the same thing. You are not the only one who is living somewhere new with people you've never met before. Everyone else is likely just as clueless as you are. Don't let anyone fool you if they appear overly confident and calm because chances are; they are trying just as hard as you to appear put together. You got this! Remember that you aren't alone!
It May Take a Few Tries to Find the Right Friends
You probably won't be friends with the same people you were friends with on the first week of classes; and that's OK. When you start school in a new place with a bunch of strangers, oftentimes your first friend is either your roommate, someone in one of your classes, or someone who lives on the same floor as you. This can work out great, but as the semester progresses, you may end up realizing that you don't have as much in common with them as you initially thought. I started off being friends with a lot of people in my Fall semester classes during Freshman year simply because I saw them so much and they were some of the first people I met. Now, I still have some of the same friends but also some new ones that took a little bit longer for me to meet. Don't panic if you feel like you're having a hard time finding people who you vibe with. Join clubs or take classes that interest you in order to meet people who have things in common with you. It's important to remember to be authentic and true to yourself when it comes to making friends. If you feel like you have to act different or fight for acceptance from people, then they probably aren't the right friends for you. It takes time to make good friends, so don't expect to find your core group in the first week of college.
It's Completely OK to Be Undecided About a Major
I went into my Freshman year of college with an Undecided major. I felt so much pressure from those around me who seemed to have their whole life planned out. They knew what career they wanted to pursue and exactly how they were going to attain it. I often didn't even know what I wanted for dinner, let alone what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It's easy to let the skeptical voices of friends and family haunt you as you enter college without a plan, but I'm here to remind you that being Undecided is OK. You're young and have until the end of Sophomore year to decide on a major. If you think college is right for you but are unsure of what exactly you want to major in, take your general education classes and discover what you like. I went in thinking I might want to go into Psychology, but after taking some English classes I ended up choosing to be an English major after a year and a half of discovering what I like. So if you are clueless about your future; don't sweat it! It will all work out.
Have Fun and Make Memories
Depending on your major or the classes you're taking, school may seem ten times harder than it ever was in high school. With this being said, it's easy to invest every last drop of your energy into late-night study sessions and full days of homework in the library. However, college is one of the best times for making memories and finding yourself. Homework and studying are extremely important and obviously essential to earning a degree, but don't work yourself too hard to the point of exhaustion and discontent with life. It's crucial to make time for yourself to have fun and live out the remainder of your youth to its fullest. Go to the party, take an hour break from studying to have lunch with a new friend, and hop on the L train until you're in a place you've never been before. Life is short! So work hard, but play hard too.
I know that a lot of these points seem obvious and straightforward, but they are easy to forget when the nerves of entering college take over. These are just a few quick reminders that college is a new, different, and sometimes scary experience for everyone. You aren't alone and have some of the best four years of your life ahead of you. It's okay to feel lost and it's okay to make mistakes. College is quite literally a learning experience in all meanings of the expression. Make the most out of it, work hard, and enjoy it!