Starting college comes with a multitude of emotions that run the gamut from happy and excited to anxious and scared. I remember thinking I knew what to expect, but realizing that you can't know what to expect from something you've never experienced before. Here I have advice for you from twelve different women (including myself) that have been where you are before and actually do know what you should expect. From the best advice they've gotten about college to things they wish they knew before beginning college and the best advice they can give from their experiences we've covered everything from dating to social life to school work. If you're entering your freshmen year of college (or really any year) and are feeling everything from overwhelmed to elated feel free to email me (email@example.com) with any questions; I'm entering my fifth (and final!) year of college so I have quite a bit of experience under my belt and I would love to help you out!
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE: This sounds like silly advice because it has nothing to do with academics, but I wish someone had told me how different college "dating" is than high school dating. When my long term boyfriend from high school and I broke up sophomore year of college it was like I'd fallen down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole. It took me too long to learn that college boys are generally less well intentioned than high school boys. Alcohol and parents hundreds of miles away (instead of in the next room) undoubtedly contribute to that difference. It's important to value yourself if you want others to value you. (Find more from Jordyn over on her blog, The Fairy Princess Diaries!)
BEST ADVICE I RECEIVED: When I first started at Villanova the campus ministry intern that worked with my one of my classes told us that college was going to fly by faster than we would ever believe. As a freshman in my first month of school, I could already tell that this was going to be incredibly true. He told us one thing he was grateful for was finding his "spot" on his campus. This spot was a place that was naturally beautiful and a place where he could go to be alone or with a friend to be at peace. That day he sent us out of class and encouraged us to begin looking for our own spots on Villanova's campus. This little thing was so important for me as I started my life at Villanova. Having my own spot gave me the chance to escape the chaos and the stress of life at school. I made the choice to not tell my friends where my spot is because I like it being my own place to reflect, but you can make your spot whatever you like for what's comfortable for you. The next time Dan came to our class, he told us to keep our spots close to us, whether we decide to change them throughout our college lives or not. His last piece of advice was to set aside time the morning of your graduation to go to your spot and spend time reflecting on your time in college. This is something I have yet to do, but I have no doubt that come graduation in May, I will be forever grateful of his advice.
WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE COLLEGE:
1. Go to every social gathering that you can. Even if it's a dumb meeting with the girls in your hall, it's guaranteed that you'll meet a friend or two. I met one of my very best friends at a floor meeting my roommate literally had to drag me out of the room to go to.
2. Be friendly to EVERYONE. It's not like high school where you get the reputation of being fake or "that girl" that tries to make nice with everyone. Smile at someone you've never met before, start conversations with the girl next to you in class, and ask someone sitting by themselves in the dining hall to join you. You won't regret it.
3. There are no re-takes on exams or assignments. Give 110% the first time around so that you don't get your grade back and wish you had studied more or spoke to your professor about a topic you didn't understand.
4. Utilize your professors, especially during office hours. Most of them are very friendly and appreciate any effort that you put into their class, your grade will reflect this, trust me.
5. The library is your friend, but it's not for everyone. Try and find a quiet place to study that works for you. It may be a bench in the corner of campus, in a study lounge, or even the student center. Everyone has different habits and different environments they like best for studying. Find what works for you best, and stick to it!
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE: It takes some time to find your core group of friends. In the beginning everyone wants to get to know you and it is hard to find the people you fit in the best with, but don't worry as long as you put yourself out there, your friend group will form naturally. Join a lot of different clubs and organizations without overextending yourself. It is important to join activities that you are interested in because it is a great way to meet people, just be sure to only take on as much as you can handle! Time management is key!
Do your homework in the afternoon (and on Saturdays). In college you may only have a few hours of class and many hours of free time per day, which is a big adjustment from high school. Getting your homework done while other friends are in class is key to balancing school work and social life. If you have most of your work done before dinner time you are sure to not miss out on time with friends!
WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE COLLEGE: I wish I knew how tough things could get and how we have the strength in us to overcome it. Not only will things be challenging academically (you just wait!), but your relationships will be tested, you will be let down, and your heart will get broken. However (so much doom and gloom, I know #positivity), you are strong enough, kind enough, and intelligent enough to face it all. By building your network of support and trusting in your own capabilities you will not only survive, but thrive. Each and everyone of us has the power to shape our futures and influence our emotions if only we take the initiative to do so. (Find more from Alyssa over on her self titled blog, Alyssa J Freitas!)
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE: Make sure that when you start college, if there's any club/sorority/etc. you're interested in joining, don't be afraid to go for it and take yourself out of your comfort zone. My best memories are those where I have pushed myself while doing something I love and I have also met my best friends that way too.
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE: As a brand new high school graduate, you will inevitability be told “college will be the best four years of your life,” what this consequently does is create the idea that college will be the peak of your life and add pressure to make your college experience perfect. What people will often fail to mention to you is that college also brings some of the worst times in a young adult’s life. You will experience high and lows, sometimes within the same day if not the same hour. I cannot stress enough how ok it is to feel this way. Before you go assuming that everybody on campus is so much happier than you are, talk with friends about what you are experiencing. Everyone will feel either directionless, confused, or sad at some point within the four years they spend in college. Use every experience, good and bad, to find yourself. At the end of the day, college will allow you to grow and become who it is that you decide to be and every experience should be embraced as a piece of this.
WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE COLLEGE: When it comes to roommates try and keep an open mind. With random roommates you never know what you are going to get - you may be best friends with them, you may just be cordial or you may not get along. Any which way try and be considerate and make the best of it because it's your living space and you need to feel ok in it. Just try make the most of any living situation and remember it only lasts a year!
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE: I wish I knew that studying for exams is essential. No matter how well you did in high school, college tests are extremely different and you really need to study to be successful!
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE: Be open minded to all the new people you're going to meet. Also try new things, join clubs, give Greek life a shot, just do as many new things as possible. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!
WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE COLLEGE: 1. Having everything you own in one room is a new concept; don't overpack or you will feel like the walls of your tiny room are closing in on you.
2. Everyone feels just as awkward about making new friends as you do. All the orientation ice breakers will feel uncomfortable for everyone, but you will all laugh about them together by senior year.
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE:
1. Go to your professors' office hours at the beginning of the semester and keep in touch throughout the years. Even if you go to discuss a class topic, you will get to know them and they will get to know you. It will also make going to them for help much less uncomfortable when you miss a class for sickness or oversleeping.
2. Pick clubs and activities that suit you, not just the ones everyone does. I interviewed for the group that gives campus tours because it was incredibly popular and didn't get it. Later on I realized that I don't like public speaking and I am incapable of walking backwards; essentially, it was for the best I didn't get chosen.
3. Make an effort with your friends. It is easy to get used to making friends who live near you, but it is also great to have friends in other buildings and classes around campus. Also, you might not be near them later on and after college, when making an effort to see them will be necessary, so get in the habit of setting aside time to see people.
BEST COLLEGE ADVICE: Be open minded with everything, from what you're studying to how you're studying, friends, dating, your schedule, your social life, and everything in between. Before I started school I thought that I had everything planned out, but my Dad encouraged me to go in undecided and I begrudgingly obliged. While I wasn't happy with it at the time it turned out the be the best thing I ever did because what I thought I wanted and what I actually wanted were two completely different things. By going in undecided I was able to take a bunch of different classes in different areas of study and eventually found something I loved (this was also a great way for me to fill up core requirements and free electives, which has helped me out later on in school). I always tell people entering college that unless you have your heart set on studying something you love try going in undecided, taking classes in everything that interests you, and keeping an open mind because you might realize that you want something different or it might just solidify that what you wanted is the right choice for you.
Then try to take this approach and apply it to all aspects of college. The more flexible you are and the more chances you take the better you'll get to know yourself and know what you like; try getting up earlier or going to sleep later than usual, try studying in your room and the library, make friends with someone you wouldn't normally be friends with, date a guy who isn't your type, the worst case scenario is you waste a bit of your time (but in reality learning what you don't like or what doesn't work isn't a waste) and best case you learn that you like something new or find something different that works for you. By doing this you'll be able to create a schedule that really suits you and you will learn so much about yourself.
You most likely will have more freedom in college then you ever have before and even have some freedoms and opportunities that will end with college, take advantage of everything being a collegiate has to offer. Don't be afraid to go way outside your comfort zone, but always listen to your gut and be smart about the decisions you're making (know when to think something out or when to just go with it). Have fun and try to experience as many new things as possible without overloading yourself. While college will fly by before your eyes (trust me it will) you still do have three, four, five years so don't try to jam everything into first semester Freshmen year because you will just land up extremely overwhelmed and unhappy. Take your time and do what you like, spend some time alone and get to know yourself because this is the best time to do that.
Do you have any college advice or any college questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Make sure to add me on Snapchat - @kthomp22!