Passing Notes: A Freshman Year in Review

Monday, May 09, 2016


Dear Incoming Freshman,

I'm writing this up in a local Starbucks (mainly for the free WiFi) to pass on my advice from this roller coaster of a time called my freshman year of college.

I hate to say it, but what they say is true. Your freshman year will be over before you know it. You'll look up and the next thing you know, the days of late night movies, bathroom dance parties, and midnight cram sessions will be over. So my biggest piece of advice to you is this. Make the best of the time you have, because it'll be over before you know it. 

On my first day of college, I couldn't imagine seeing the end of the year come. Honestly, the things that will happen to you during your freshman year will be unimaginable at the beginning because ultimately, you're gonna change a lot as a person. You're gonna meet people who inspire you and you're gonna do things you would never see yourself doing, because college is a time for change and growth. It's gonna be scary because you can see how much you are changing, but you will eventually realize that change is for the better.

Referencing my post from the beginning of the year, you'll probably see a lot of similarities in the tips I give, but that just goes to show that some things don't change, although they do become easier. Here are just a few of the many little life lessons I would like to pass from me to you.

1. Hold on to "Your People"Like I said, most likely you are going to be meeting some people that will remain your friends for life. You may not hang out with them 24/7, but these are the real deal, genuine friends. These are the friends who have seen you at your best and at your worst, and won't hold any of it against you. These friends will always be willing to lend an ear or a hand, and they will always be there to bring you back to earth and make you a better person. Just a little shout out moment to my friends from the Honors floor. They are some of the most important people I've met this year and I can even call them family. Without them, I don't know where I'd be now. Love you all!

2. Care About Your Grades, Even a LittleEspecially in my field, no one is going to care about your GPA, besides you and your parents for the most part. But! That doesn't mean you should slack off and barely get by. Your GPA may not help you land a job, but it does matter when applying for scholarships that can help finance your time at college. You should always push yourself to do the best you can in your classes, because after all you, hopefully, are going to college for something you like! Although, I wouldn't stress if you don't ace every test because a few points here or there are where you can ease up, unlike in high school, where every GPA point mattered. On a similar note, go to your classes. As one of my wise teachers said this year, imagine handing in your tuition money for each class in cash every time you walked into class. You really don't want to be wasting money just because you don't want to get out of bed.

3. It's Okay to Be HomesickIf you go to college out-of-state, or even remotely far away from home, you are going to experience some sort of homesickness. Maybe not for the town you lived in, but for the people, the familiarity of knowing where everything was, maybe something as small as the crickets you heard every night. Being away from home for an extended amount of time is going to be so rough, but you'll know inside if it is the best thing for you. For some people, it won't be okay, and that's okay too. I know for me it was really hard especially before starting the Spring semester, but also know that most campus' have resources to help you cope with these feelings.

4. Manage Your MoneyThe day your world explodes just a little is when you realize how much money you don't have. College tuition and expenses are just a big looming giant on everyone's back burner, but noticing the day to day expenses are really scary. It'll be easy to just swipe your card and pay $5 for a latte or shell out a twenty for dinner one day. Now, I'm a huge believer in "treat yo' self", but make sure "treat" doesn't turn into an every day thing, because then it's not "treating"...catch my drift? There are plenty of ways to live as cost effectively as possible without eating ramen every night, it's just all about knowing what you have, and making sure you don't spend more than you have.

5. Get Out and ExploreI was very fortunate to be going to school in a lovely little city where there are plenty of things to explore. It may be different for you if you're going to school in a smaller college town, but I'm sure, wherever you are, there are things to do. This may not mean having all the attractions of a big city, but it could mean taking a walk on the weekend to a local park, or visiting the shopping center of town, and seeing the locals interact. It's important not to be isolated in the little bubble of your college campus, because there is so much more to see, and these are the memories and experiences you will gain the most from in the end.

6. Keep in Touch With Your FamilyOnce your schedule gets really busy this one is going to be really tough to keep up with, but at least send a text to a family member once in a while to let them know you are alive. You never know, you may feel a huge urge to just FaceTime your family one day, just because.

7. Everything in Moderation It's going to be very easy to jump into the college life too fast. You're in a new environment, away from any parental figures, with substances and experiences galore. Remember, be aware, be smart, and live it up a little. For example, that doesn't mean eating salads all week only to have ten donuts on a Saturday. The healthiest life is a balanced one.

8. Be Smart About Your ChoicesOn a similar note, you're going to want to task risks and go outside of your comfort zone, which I totally encourage! Although, always evaluate the pros and cons before diving in head first. It may sound fun to go take a walk to the riverfront at 3 AM with cold pizza, but are the streets really safe at that time of night? Do you have classes the following day? Make your own choices, but be smart about things. When going to a party, bring a friend, don't drink more than you can handle. Learn your limits and boundaries in everything, and don't base yours off of anyone else's, because every person is different.

9. Put Yourself First  - Ultimately, this time is about you. It is your time to explore, grow, and experience. Don't ever lose sight of yourself. Let others impact you and inspire you, but never take you out of yourself. Know when you need a break from social events, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with cancelling all plans to take a night off for yourself. Go have a movie night or get in bed early to read that book you never got around to do. Taking time to spend with yourself is the best advice I can give, because it allows for self-reflection and recouping time. Treat yourself well both physically and mentally, because the last thing you want to do is burn out mid-semester.

10. It Will All be Okay in the End 'Nuff said. At times life will suck and you'll mentally want to throw yourself into a river with a cinder-block, but know that that feeling will soon pass, because the good things will definitely outshine the bad. You are so ready, and you can so do this.

Looking back on my freshman year, I have so much more to reflect upon. I've seen so many things, been so many places, and met so many people. It's just a big conglomeration of events and experiences that made up my year and changed me as a person. While I'd love to spend all day recapping my life, you don't need to hear every little bit, because ultimately, you're going to experience this all yourself, in your own way and time. I can write you a big guide book to surviving freshman year, but even if you study it page to page, you only way you will learn is through living it yourself. So, take my tips into consideration, but with a grain of salt. We all live our lives on different paths and no one takes the same route, so be smart, be kind, and be open. This is a beautiful time to be alive, you're going to learn so much about yourself and the world, so enjoy all of it.
 - ML


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