After going through what I consider to be one of my most stressful years, I want to help all you soon to be freshman with some advice that I really could have used before starting college. Some of this may be stuff you've heard before, but hopefully you'll take something new out of what I'm going to say to you.
One // The Freshman 15 is Real
Yes, it is most definitely a thing, however, that 15 pounds can go both ways. Of course I saw my fair share of people steadily gaining weight from all the dining hall visits during the semester, but I also realized that I had lost about 10 pounds within the first 3 weeks of school. I was actually pretty happy when I found out that I lost weight, but I also know that I was barely eating 1000 calories a day (maybe) during those weeks since my body was literally feeding off of my stress. I was tired, sad, and homesick, and it showed through my appetite. So please ladies (and gentlemen!) make sure you watch what you eat and make sure you are getting enough to eat!!! Overeating is a poor way to live, but starving yourself is just as bad, if not worse for your health.
Two // You Will Cry
Whether it be over missing your parents, feeling like you don't have any friends, being frustrated over a paper, you will shed some tears in your first year of college. I had a really tough time my first semester because it was my first time truly away from my parents and I wasn't sure I had chosen the right school. During the end of finals last semester I even cried in my Italian class because I was so stressed out and forgot to print something! But you know what? I survived, I'm okay, and it happens to everyone. My Italian teacher even told me how I was the fourth person to cry that day. Just know that things will get better, your stress level will go down, and college is a great place. If you miss your parents, call them, chances are they miss you too. If you think you don't have friends, don't worry, you'll make them! Papers eventually have to be turned in and projects will get done. Crying is a regular part of college, and hopefully some of those tears are happy ones!
Three // For the Love of God Don't Walk to a Party in Heels
Just don't do it. Unless you have feet made of steel and the willpower of Wonder Woman, wear flats to the party that's a mile (or five) away. Once you get there feel free to wear the heels, but your feet will thank you for not dragging them along in those stilettos you planned to wear. I've watched people do it, I've attempted it myself, and it just isn't fun. You will start off your walk with that confident attitude of "I can do this!" but I'm telling you two blocks in you will be
limping walking like a zebra that just got its legs chewed on by a lion. Please just trust me on this one and save yourself the pain.
Four // If You're Considering Going Greek....Do It
I was kind of iffy on whether or not I wanted to be a part of a sorority, and because I wasn't sure if I was even going to stay at my school I didn't rush. After seeing how much of a community it builds through the experiences my friends had, I wish I did. Especially since I am staying at the same university, I wish I would have started at a sorority so I could have the true four year experience. I'm rushing this year and am completely excited! Plus, they're really the only way you get to have dress up dances during college. Formals and semi-formals are super fun! (I went to one of my friend's formals, I'm not just saying this to say it.)
Five // Learn How to Express What You Want
I'm mostly talking about how to express what you want with your roommate. I have heard way too many horror stories of bad roommates or annoying situations where there was a disagreement over something in the dorm, but nothing was being done about it. If you want something done, you literally have to ask. Your roommate can't read your mind, and may think something is wonderful when you absolutely hate it. My roommate and I never really had an issue because of our wonderful communication, and I think that's what made us become super close friends. We never had a fight because every time something changed in the room we asked each other's opinion of it before it became a permanent change. For example, one weekend I went home and my roommate changed around her bed area. She told me to tell her what I thought of the change when I got back to the dorm, and you know what? I absolutely hated it! And I told her that (okay I said it in a nicer way, but either way I said I really didn't like it and thought it would be best to change it back or we could work together to find something that works). No feelings were harmed and the furniture was eventually moved into a position we both felt comfortable with. However, you may be stuck with a person who will not turn out to be one of your best friends, and that's okay! You still need to figure out how to have open communication with them though. If you don't like having alcohol in the room, let her know before it happens so you don't get bombarded with the excuse "But you didn't say anything." If you tell them and it still happens, remind them again that you aren't comfortable with it and make sure your opinion is known (but don't come off like you own the room, you don't want to be known as the tyrant of a roommate!). In general, if you have a problem with something in the room, tell your roommate straight away before they get comfortable with the issue.
Six // First Semester is Hard, and You May Feel Like Transferring
I actually filled out and sent away transfer applications last year. I was convinced that I wanted to leave and go to a school that I turned down senior year and it was driving me insane. I got into the school I sent my new application for and honestly cried for weeks about what to do, but ultimately decided that I wanted to stay because I had made great friends and the idea I had of the school earlier on in the year wasn't how I had come to know it. A couple of my friends had even talked about transferring during first semester, and we often had long conversations about it. When I went back to my high school and talked to one of my favorite teachers about me filling out transfer applications, she told me she did the exact same thing. She said she was miserable first semester, but by the end of the year knew that she just couldn't leave. It's way more common than you would think to feel this way about your school. But, these feelings could also be genuine and you really might want to go to another school, and that's perfectly fine too! Choose what's best for you, but just know that doubting your choice is extremely common during that first year.
Seven // Don't Be an Awful Neighbor
If you share vents with those in your hall like I did, things will get loud sometimes. It's unavoidable as everyone is doing their own thing and a lot of people don't remember to think about what others are doing. People are taking naps at 1pm on a Wednesday, but people are also hanging out with friends at the same time. Just be careful you aren't yelling at the top of your lungs with your friends and you should be alright. When I was in my dorm studying, it would get loud because it was the middle of the day. But you know what? It's not quiet hours and people don't have to stop making noise for you. So be a good neighbor and put in some earphones or go to the library. If it is quiet hours though, don't yell through the vent for people to shut up (it happened multiple times in my dorm, and it pissed me off every time) just kindly knock on that person's door and say you are trying to sleep or study, etc and ask them to be a little quieter and thank them. If it's the weekend though, let's be honest no one is going to be quieter because they are probably drinking. If it's 3am on a Sunday and you have a big test the next day and you can hear a group singing Happy Birthday and screeching their lungs out, call campus police and just shut it down. It happened to me and I will tell you that you're grade is more important than feeling bad for one night. Campus Police may take your name and room number, but they won't give it out, so don't worry someone will get mad at you personally. If you're the one making those loud noises at 3 am, I promise you, people don't like you, and we know whose voices are talking. Don't be those people.
Eight // Take Advantage of Gym/Fitness Classes on Campus
You will only get free fitness classes for so long! Please take advantage of them!!! After eating
a thousand too many dining hall cookies and feeling like a slob, you're going to want to feel better about yourself and you have a gym right on campus! GO. TO. THE. GYM. It's there for a reason. It may be packed, but there are normally open machines if you look around or wait for 5-10 minutes. But even better than just going to your college's gym, there are actually fitness classes you can take every week! I'm not talking about the ones you get for credit, I'm talking about the ones that they have flyers for in your student union. My school has zumba and yoga classes available for all students that are fun, FREE, and make you burn a good amount of calories (so go ahead and eat those dining hall cookies, because they're delicious). Take a friend or a group of friends and make it a weekly thing. Afterwards go watch a movie and make it a girls night. When you're out of college and don't have too much money to your name, you're going to be dreaming of the days when you had this essentially free gym membership and you didn't use it.
Nine // Talk to Your Professors....I'm Serious
If you're planning on grad school or having an internship, this is especially important. These places will ask for letters of recommendation, and your professors are the ones who will be writing them for you! It's going to be a little awkward at first, but honestly, they are there to help you and guide you through their class. Go in for office hours before you are having trouble just to introduce yourself and make a good impression. Even if you don't really have a question, ask them one, it shows them that you care. If you are lucky to be at a school with smaller classes like me, your professor will probably learn your name and it will be easier for you to do this. If you have larger classes, you have to make yourself stand out from the rest of your peers so you aren't just another face in the crowd to them. If it helps, when you get to know your professor, they will probably take your work more seriously if you've asked questions and make more in depth comments on that ten page research paper so they know what you need to improve on. Become friends with your favorite professor, especially if they teach the classes in your major. They can help you with your goals and help you figure out what you want to get out of the classes you're in. Just remember that professors are there to help you, and seriously love when students take advantage of office hours. (I once had a teacher who asked every class why no one was coming to his office hours, he pointed out the two students that did go, and they were getting called on less in class and getting better grades.) So please get to know your professors!
If you guys have any other advice for incoming freshman please write it in the comments! Also, feel free to email me about my college experience so far or anything else at firstname.lastname@example.org and use the hashtag #theclassicbrunette if you want to get my attention on instagram!
P.S. Sorry for this post being so text heavy!