Congrats, you’re about to enter what is going to be the most emotionally exhausting and yet simultaneously exhilarating four years of your life. When you leave these doors for the last time you will be a completely different person from when you first entered. This a time for personal growth and new experiences. You’re going to have a great time, but you’ll surprise yourself by how often you don’t feel so awesome. This is what college is really like.
Your Dad will warn you about roofies and remind you not to accept drinks from strangers. Your Mom will painfully re-explain the importance of contraception. Your grandparents will encourage you to get good grades. They say everyone learns from their mistakes, but everyone can benefit from guidance.
- You’ll do many things you vowed you wouldn’t. I always assumed college would be the point in my life where I’d have a threesome, but my finger stays standing when playing Never-Have-I-Ever. There are certain risks you expect to take in college, unsteady keg-stands for example, but you always believe you’ll stay true to your core. Your values will be temporarily swayed and in many instances altered entirely. I got back together with an ex I had sworn off for life, I narrated my love throughout my entire college experience on my blog– I was a C student in high school English.
- You will regret not studying abroad. There are a million reasons why you “can’t” study abroad. There are also a million solutions to said problems. A few of my friends pursued degrees that made studying abroad nearly impossible. While some of them were unable to spend a semester abroad, many of them did winter-break courses, pursued volunteer opportunities, and managed to see the world regardless of their major. No money? Get a job, take out loans, sacrifice birthday/christmas gifts. No time? This is the most time you’ll ever have. You can’t casually take off 3 weeks from your entry level job. Use skyscanner.com for the most amazing deals on flights. I’m going to Europe for $400 round trip.
- You’re going to really begin to discover your sexuality. Its OK to hookup with someone, it doesn’t make you a slut. Its also okay not to, it doesn’t make you a prude. Just because you spend the night talking to a guy doesn’t mean you’re obligated to fuck them. You don’t owe anybody anything. If they make you feel like you’ve wasted their time, just be glad you didn’t give them anymore of yours. Unlike high school where sex was something that you had to hide, at least from Mom + Dad, college is somewhere you can embrace it. Of course I don’t recommend banging the entire baseball team, but having sex for fun is not something to be ashamed of. Also, take advantage of the fact that all your booty calls live in the same building as you– this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
- Use condoms with new sexual partners. Pinch yourself. Now pinch yourself with a thin layer of plastic over your skin. Most likely the feeling is very similar. If you find yourself in a twin XL with tonight’s bae who simply “can’t” with condoms, don’t let their potentially disease ridden P near your V. If they can’t get hard with a condom on with you, thats probably what they tell every girl they bring home. Pretend to fall asleep when they use the bathroom, or be honest, or something.
The most prominent STIs in college are treatable, and often completely curable. Would you rather take a pill that immediately rids you of anything nasty in your system, or find out through the grapevine that you’re the one spreading it. Get Tested.
- You’re going to feel like an emotional wreck at times. The rollercoaster of feelings is pretty much unavoidable. Your dorm building is a cement bubble. See things as they are, try to examine your situation from an outside perspective. Your emotions are very much real, but note that your environment has an impact on the way you’re feeling. So-and-so from down the hall is most likely not your soul mate. Don’t let a little bruise on your ego/heart ruin your year.
- The longer you put off “getting involved on campus”, the harder it will be. School groups may seem “lame” when you’re attending your first meeting, or when you’re at an extra curricular fair. You won’t feel dorky when you’re listing your extra curricular activities on your Linkedin profile. If you get involved early you’re much more likely to grow within the organization. What is the point of living on campus if your only involvement is drinking at sporting events? Take advantage of the resources that surround you, career fairs, and the many opportunities to get involved on campus. It is never too early to start an internship.
You can’t time opportunity. Your dream internship might come your freshman year, don’t pass it up. The only person preventing you from making power moves is yourself.
- Doing good in school is really cool. Obviously you’d rather spend your nights drinking and your days napping, but when graduation rolls around you’ll be wishin’ you didn’t spend a full semester completing the entire Desperate Housewives series. I have a few friends who were able to balance out school and partying and miraculously graduated with honors– but many of us have to make sacrifices. Trust me, they are worth it. One bad class can kill a GPA and force you to take summer classes (represent.) Fortunately you have a clean slate and a ton of new friends to hangout in the library with. The easiest way to do well in school? Just go to class… If you go to class the chances of you failing are extremely slim. More so than ever your professors will have compassion for you.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people. Social media makes it frighteningly easy to compare your life to others. Unfortunately, it’s easy to feel like you don’t measure up. Your college experience is yours and it may include one-night stands and blackouts, or it could be filled with late nights at the library with people who share similar priorities as you. Some people will really love college, and others will transfer home the second they can.
- It’s okay to lose touch, and it’s unavoidable. People always say that by the time you graduate college you’ll be able to count your friends from high school on one hand. This doesn’t have to be true, but by the end of freshman year you’ll have a good idea who is a lifetime companion, and who is a birthday-text friend. Most likely there will be no hard feelings and birthday-text friends can be the most fun to randomly run into out at night.
- You don’t have to gain the “freshman 15”, but don’t worry too much about it. Don’t let weight gain stop you from playing flip-cup with the FREE bud heavy at the party. However, there is absolutely no need for a chaser that has over 100 calories. Snapple juices? Are you kidding me, 19 year old self? Don’t sacrifice the drunk Dominos, but when you’re sober at least keep your calorie intake in mind. It’s really that easy. Also you have a free gym membership…
- Different alcohol combinations will have a different impact on you. I’ll tell you a little (not-so) secret: tequila makes clothes fall off. Songs have been written about it, and I have lived to tell the tale. If you drink vodka redbull you will most likely wake up with/next-to a handful of regrets. Jungle juice has never once been a good idea. Never. Discovering a love for cider will expand your waistline by an inch or so. Wine will result in romantic…. nights with yourself binge watching HBO. Stick to one alcohol throughout the night and you will most likely remember the events of the night. Shots will get you much drunker, much faster– but most likely your body doesn’t need that much to get drunk. I don’t care if you have a “high tolerance” (and truthfully don’t believe you.)
If your stomach is unsettled and some bro declares you lame because you won’t down the lemon drop, hand the shot to the person next to you. Most people are stoked to receive shots, very few are fans of witnessing someone vom all over the dance floor. Be true to yourself.
- Be open to self improvement. Everyone’s shit stinks, at least a little. You might be cool to most 18 year old’s standards, but in the real world you have a lot of work to do. Expanding your mind and doing things that challenge you will help you evolve as a person. You’ll find your study and work habits will benefit from alterations, and that your peers will teach you new techniques to adapt.
- You’re not going to be a flawless roommate. Nobody is the world’s best roommate. The cleanest, most polite, considerate roommate is actually annoying because you always feel an enormous amount of guilt for your mess. This is why I’ve found it best to ask my roommates to be straight up with me before we move in, I’m transparent about my nonchalance when it comes to organization, and encourage them to speak up before the anger build up. It works.
- Don’t go to war for your LDR. The chances of your relationship overcoming 4 years of college is so insanely slim. You’re probably not the exception. Fight for who you love, but don’t jump on a flight to spent a weekend at their school to “save” what you have. Every situation is different and most likely you already know if whether or not what you have is sustainable.
- You’ll like someone who has no interest in dating you. You can throw yourself at someone and they’ll still politely imply they aren’t interested. You’ll insist you’re only looking for something casual and in the moment you’ll believe yourself. Welcome to the era of your life in which blurred lines will take precedence over commitment. At some point you’ll be convinced you’re meant to be with someone that is indifferent about your company. It will always hurt.
- Your # doesn’t matter. If I really wanted to count how many times i’ve been to my favorite restaurant. But it would be pointless, because the numerical value isn’t what was important, it was the experience. I haven’t had any (truly) traumatizing sexual relationships. I stopped counting about a year ago and it’s insanely liberating.
- There will never be an 8am you’ll want to go to. Looking through the class catalog I’m sure you’ll see plenty of courses that speak to you. Class at 8 means waking up at 6:30. Waking up at 6:30 (should) mean going to bed before midnight. Little did you know when creating your schedule that monday nights are (hypothetically) the one night you have to go out each week. You’ll have to skip at least a couple classes, you need to show up to some of your friend’s DJ sets. You’ll accidentally miss a quiz, and you’ll struggle to make it up the rest of the semester. Choose the earliest time you think you’ll realistically wake up for. Take a class an hour later. Don’t overestimate your ability to resist peer pressure and wake up in the morning. And never ever ever ever forget to check ratemyprofessor.com (you will seriously regret it.)
- Take advantage of being a freshman. This is probably the last year you’ll be able to round up your crew in Togas (unless you’re going the Southern-Greek route.) Group halloween costumes FTW. This is probably the last year everyone will find it sensible to get ready in the same room and schedule a prom-length span of time just to take pictures. This is your opportunity to do “dumb” stuff because you truly don’t know any better. Live it up, drink it down– but don’t wear heels to the house party in a basement.
Some people thrive in high school and others thrive in college. It’s always more admirable to be the person who is constantly evolving, not reminiscing on the past. Make it an effort to discover yourself, what you’re passionate about, and who you want to become. At the same time, live in the moment and cherish every second, it ends sooner than you can imagine.