Back to School Series: Advice for College Freshmen

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Let me ask you this, how are you feeling?  Excited, anxious, worried, nervous?  Believe me, I’ve been there…

With me being the awkward, anti-social human that I am, college seemed terrifying!  But I can promise you, it really will be the best four years of your life!  I moved into my air condition-less freshman dorm a week early due to cheer practice, and my very first night I was one of only three people in my entire dorm.  At that point my room was 85 degrees (without a microwave), so I walked downstairs to make some popcorn in shorts and a sports bra with my hair being a greasy disaster.  Thinking I was alone, I was humming and awkwardly “dancing” (if you can even call my moves dancing) waiting for my popcorn to pop, as my DA creeped up behind me and scared me half to death with his presence!  That was my very first night, and oddly enough I knew from that moment on that I would love college!

Being a current junior, I’ve learned and experienced a lot during my previous two years!  I’ll be honest in saying 99% of these experiences are memories and moments I will cherish for the rest of my life, with the 1% being moments like the final exam I accidentally showed up 45 minutes late to, and later bombed because I couldn’t focus and my brain couldn’t comprehend what I had just done!  But hey, we’ve all been there, and quite honestly I can’t help but laugh looking back at it!

I definitely do not categorize myself as a stereotypical “college student”, as I rarely attend parties and most of the time I’m in bed blogging, planning, or binge-watching Netflix at 10 pm on the weekends!  My “college experience” has focused primarily on discovering myself, making my life-long best friends, and finding out what is truly important in life, and I can say for certain I believe I have accomplished all of those things in two of the quickest years of my life! So upon entering my junior year, I wanted to share my advice, tips, and inspiration for all of you just beginning your incredible journey!

  1. It’s okay if you and your friends go to separate colleges  In fact, I find this quite refreshing!  My current boyfriend (Doug) and I are attending separate colleges a few hours apart, and all of my high school friends and I parted ways as well.  I thought it would be unbearable being away from Doug and my friends, but it gave me the opportunity to branch out and find my own path!  And even though Doug and I are a few hours apart, our relationship has only grown stronger through these past few years as we were both able to truly “find ourselves” and discover our own paths while still visiting each other almost every weekend!
  2.  Leave your door open  By this I mean, allow yourself to meet people and make friends in your dorm!  Attend your transitions meetings (aka: the huge events where college freshmen meet each other), and allow yourself to reach out and introduce yourself!  You’ll be living with these people for the next 10ish months, so definitely make an effort to create some friendships!
  3. Get involved  Join a sport, join a sorority, or join a club you’ve been thinking about!  Every single college has a “campus life night” where you can walk around and get information about every single organization on campus, so don’t be afraid to attend and to ask questions!  My freshman and sophomore year I was on the coed cheerleading team at my college, and now I am a current Delta Zeta and I’m involved in multiple on campus organizations!  Getting involved is the perfect way to meet like-minded individuals, and make some amazing friendships!
  4. Walk your schedule  My freshman year I had multiple classes downtown, and a few classes all of the way across campus in buildings I didn’t even know existed!  Grab a friend, grab some coffee, and tour both of your schedules!  Visit each building and find your specific classroom numbers, and hop on your local bus or transportation system to get the feel of it before classes actually start!  Figure out approximately how long it’ll take to get from class to class, and plan accordingly!  During the first few days of class, I always leave obnoxiously early just so I have plenty of time (but at the end of the semester I definitely push it to the last possible minute)!  
  5. Use a planner/agenda  I cannot even explain how crucial this is!  Using a planner for academic purposes will help you stay organized and on top of your assignments, and you’ll always be aware of what’s to come in the upcoming weeks!  I use three planners for my day to day life, check out my favorite ones and what I use them for in my Find Your Perfect Planner series here, here, and here!
  6. Read the syllabus  I find it very important to actually read the class syllabus before you fully commit to the class, because I always like to make sure the class I’m about to take fits with my learning style.  Some professors may have you teach yourself the material and are only there for questions, while other classes may be set up in a very structured learning setting where the material is covered at a much slower pace.  I’m someone who prefers the traditional class setting, so I always read over the syllabus to make sure the course requirements and course information matches what I expect.  Yes, some classes will be much harder than others, so definitely read over the syllabus to find out how to study/handle the material in the best way!
  7. Find productive study areas  While a lot of us like to study in our apartments/dorms/bedrooms, it may not be the most productive!  Find a study area on campus that works for you, and maybe even ask a few friends to join you for a study session!  My favorite place to study is in our beautiful library, and I always find I get the most done in an efficient amount of time while I’m there!  Also, don’t be afraid/embarrassed to attend your professor’s study hours or study sessions!  They’re there to help you, and you’ll be learning study tricks and nuances from the people who are creating your exams!
  8. Avoid going home “every weekend”  We all have our bouts of homesickness, but try to avoid going home every weekend!  Weekends are your free time, and I guarantee your friends are going to want to make plans and get together with you!  College is all about branching out and figuring out “adulthood”, so don’t be afraid to go out and try new things with a group of friends!  Don’t get me wrong I’m all for occasional home visits, but your college is your new home and you don’t want to miss out on any opportunities!
  9. Be yourself, and enjoy every moment  College goes by faster than you would imagine, so try to take full advantage of every opportunity you can!  You’re not in high school anymore, people don’t care and won’t judge you over insignificant nonsense!  So don’t be afraid to be yourself, and to awkwardly dance half-naked at midnight in your dorm’s lobby while waiting for your popcorn!

Welcome to the greatest four years of your life!

xo, Tessa

Today’s Inspiration

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