Can you believe it’s really happening? Your dorm room is all set up, you’re feeling more comfortable on campus, and hopefully some of the craziness of the first few weeks has died down. Now that you have some time to read, here’s some advice to help you navigate your first year.
Everyone says you’re going to meet your best friends in college. While this happens for many people, know this: these lasting friendships don’t happen overnight. Most lifelong friendships take months and years to cultivate, and you’ve only been in college for a few weeks. If you’re feeling discouraged because you don’t feel like you’ve met your best friends yet, remember this: there are thousands of people on campus and you’ve only met a small percentage so far. There’s still plenty of time - some best friends don’t even meet until sophomore year! Beware of social media- though it may seem like high school friends have already formed their group of friends at college, know that really everyone is still getting to know each other. Be patient with the process of friendship-making and don’t compare the pace of your friendships with the pace of others’ friendships (or the pace they pretend to have on social media).
When making friends, it’s important to be yourself. Your college student body is likely much larger than high school, which means there are more types of people. There are fellow students who are very similar to you that you’ll get along with really well; find those people and become friends with them. Likewise, college is full of different types of people who will introduce you to new ways of thinking; find those people who are not like you and become friends with them also. Don’t be afraid to learn about other people and where they come from; respecting and loving everyone becomes easier when you get to know people who may be different from you. Introduce yourself to everyone in your dorm, in your classes, in your clubs, etc. You never know when you might meet a new (future) best friend.
Now is the perfect time to start becoming the person you want to be and to start doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. In high school, it’s easy to stay within the boundaries of your group of friends or the label you’ve been given, but in this new environment, you have the opportunity to try new things and be the person you want to be. This could mean taking a volleyball class, joining a dance group, or trying out for a theater production. Or maybe it means being kinder, becoming more social, or studying a new subject. Whatever your aspirations may be, now is the time to make them a reality. Don’t let your past or judgment from others stop you from trying new things and growing into the person you want to become.
With your new college schedule, you’ll find that you have a lot more free time during the day - what better way to use that time than to get involved! Extracurricular activities may have helped you get into college, but they’re far more than just a resume booster. These activities are so important in college because they help cultivate new friendships, increase your involvement on campus, and take your mind off of schoolwork. A sports team can be a great way to keep exercising, while a service club can help you focus on others instead of stressing about homework; no matter what the activity, getting involved will help you feel more connected in your university experience.
Don’t be afraid of the library. Throughout most of your life, you probably did your homework at the kitchen table or a desk with the door closed. Your shared dorm room can be a major source of distraction, with your roommate trying to watch TV or catch up with a friend on the phone. Luckily, the university library is just down the road! The library is the perfect oasis where you can concentrate on getting your work done. Many libraries have various floors, with some as designated quiet zones - spend time figuring out which space best fits your individual learning. It might sound nerdy, but it will pay off when you get good grades in your classes.
Call your parents. They spent the past 18 years caring for you and worrying about you - they want to hear about your new life on your own! Send them a picture on your first day of classes. Text them funny stories about your professors, your friends, and your adventures of doing laundry in a shared laundry area. Let them know how much you miss having dinner with them while you’re at the dining hall. Call them on your way to class just to say hi and see how their day is going. It’ll mean the world to them.
College can be the best four years of your life - it all depends on your attitude, your commitment and your decisions. Heeding this advice will help create the perfect foundation for a successful first year and a memorable college experience.
Good luck and have fun!