written by Julia McClellan

Expectations run rampant through our brains before we dive into our first year of college. You wonder who you’ll meet and if they’ll like you. You wonder if you picked the right place. You wonder if your roommate will become your best friend or your worst nightmare. You wonder if you can handle college classes. The list of unknowns are endless. This is what I learned after completing my first year of college:

  1. Everyone’s college experience is different.

Just because your older friends liked or hated college doesn’t mean you follow suit with their emotions. Your college experience is uniquely yours. It is a time for you to grow as a person and decide what you really believe in. Don’t expect to feel a certain way, take each day in stride. That is a much easier mindset than worry.

  1. Do what you can to have your major figured out.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but everyone asks your major as a small talk introduction to one another. Sure, give them the idea you have, but don’t let the copious amounts of repeating the major make you feel stuck. You have generals for the first two years. Go to the clubs your major has on campus and see what they’re all about. Most colleges have a career center so take advantage of that. You can also meet with a career coach like Coach Sally!

  1. Don’t compromise values to fit in.

If you don’t want to do something, don’t. People will not hate you for being different. You might actually gain someone’s respect. If playing board games or baking cookies sounds a lot better than partying, you do that. More power to ya.

  1. Be a friend.

College is a time to learn about you, but don’t let that take away from you caring for others. You will be fulfilled in your kindness to others. Everyone else is struggling too, don’t be too self-focused or you will miss the opportunity to help someone.

  1. Don’t just find ways to get A’s.

Be analytical! Actually try to learn, don’t just mindlessly memorize. Way more topics would relate to your life if you let them. You will have loads of fun, but remember you are there to learn.

  1. Try to embrace the changes.

Your daily life changes a lot the first day you step onto campus. Where you live, who you know, your workload, and the general atmosphere all shifts. It will be a lot to take in, but pinpoint the changes and appreciate them. Home will always be there when you want to go there, you have not lost your roots.

  1. Balance your time.

Decide what is important to you and prioritize it. This is one of the most important things to do. You will feel so much more free to enjoy life if you set apart time for what is important to you. Find some time to be alone, reflect on where you’re at and never feel dumb asking someone for advice.

  1. Keep a journal.

Write down all the random struggles, strange confessions and good lessons learned. At the end of the year, it will be a joy to look back at all you have done and accomplished. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn from your mistakes and maybe chuckle at some of them. College isn’t as scary as it sounds, just enjoy this season of life.