With the end of the academic year fast approaching, it is of course the time for me to neglect studying for finals for a brief moment in order to sit down and reflect on my first year of college and, of course, write about it.
I write this with my friend graduating highschool in a few short weeks in mind, so Emily, this is all the best advice I can give you about senior summer and freshman year.
The Summer Before College
The summer before I went off to college was easily the weirdest summer I’ve experienced. It was wonderful and terrible and weird and stressful all at the same time. All I can say is travel somewhere you’ve never been (*cough cough* Paris *cough cough*) and get as much sleep as humanly possible. Oh, and work enough to save up some cushion money for the first semester or even the first year so you can prolong the time between your first day of classes and that fateful day you go get a job and your life in college gets infinitely harder.
move in day
Ah move in day. It’s a hot fucking mess, that’s for sure. Literally everyone and their brother will be on campus, around the dorms, in the parking lot, basically if you’re on campus, there will be a TON of people. So do what I did: find any excuse to move in at least a week early and then get the hell out of dodge for move in day. Maybe drive to Edmond and get a tattoo that day (not saying that’s what I did…). Whatever you do, get off campus that day and avoid the helicopter moms telling freshman everywhere how to set up their dorms.
class, coursework, and academics in general
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and I’ll probably be saying it when I’ve long since graduated and no longer even have to worry about it, but FUCKING GO TO CLASS. The biggest mistake I made in college was not going to class enough and I am absolutely paying the price for it now. I know it’s nice outside/cold outside/raining, I know you have homework/sleep to catch up on/other excuses. But go to class anyways. It won’t last forever and you can take a nap as soon as you get back, I promise. They may dismiss early, your professor might not even show up, or likelier than not you’re going to learn something you didn’t know and wouldn’t learn from your textbook AND you get the attendance grade for the day. Just go, you’ll never regret the times you go to class, but you will always regret the times you didn’t.
As for homework, I have a few systems in place that tend to work pretty well.
- My friend Hailey and I like to sit down on the first few days of class during the beloved and short lived syllabus week and plan out major assignments and readings for the entire semester for all of our classes. So invest in a planner and some page flags, print out your syllabi, and go to town. I like to color code mine by class so I can keep each course separate and not get confused when I just see the word exam written on certain day. I promise you this will save you so much time in the long run and you’ll thank yourself when you don’t forget an exam, paper, or even just the reading for the week.
- Set up your planner so that you’re always a week ahead. Set up assignments by due date in the month view, but then in the week view put all readings and minor assignments as a week ahead, that way you’re never truly behind. I did this at the beginning of second semester and it worked pretty well until the asshole part of myself convinced me that I could slack off because I was a week ahead, causing me to have to do two to three weeks worth of reading and assignments all at once in order to catch up. (side note, this does take quite a bit of self discipline, but it’s totally worth it and I believe in you. You can do it.)
And when it comes to general academics, just please for the love of god remember to study. I know Netflix looks enticing, but you are definitely not paying this much money just to sit in your dorm and watch The Office. Get your backpack, go to the library, and study for at least an two hours a day. This will make studying for finals so much easier and you’ll be so thankful for early semester you getting her shit done and generally making your life easier.
You’re here to learn, and you can’t do that without actually going to class, doing your work, and studying to retain information, so please just remember that.
alcohol and partying
Wow, where to even begin on this one. Let’s face it, you’re eighteen and you shouldn’t be drinking in the first place, but you’re probably going to. But be smart about it. Don’t go out in public either after drinking or to drink. It’s just not a smart move. Try to avoid frat parties, they’re nothin but trouble. And please please please don’t go to someone’s house if you don’t know them. I know it seems like every college student is invincible and nothing can ever happen to them, but I’ve seen too many good friends get into serious trouble, life threatening situations, and circumstances that I always thought happened to other people, never to my friends and never to me, and they will haunt me for the rest of my life, and I really don’t want you to experience that or even some of the things I’ve experienced myself. Please, be smart, be cautious, and always be aware that something could happen at any given moment. If you’re debating between going out and staying in, it’s almost always better to stay in. I’ve never regretted the nights I stayed in and studied, but I will always regret some of the nights I went out.
If you have to get a job while you’re going to school, just be warned, your whole life as you know it is about to change. You’ll have to manage your time so much better than you were previously, and what little free time you do have is going to be more precious than gold. All I can say is find a job on or near campus that you don’t hate that pays at least minimum wage and tough it out. Don’t make more than fifteen minutes of a commute, it isn’t worth it. If you’re going to work nights make sure you have sufficient time to sleep and study. And for the love of god, don’t work two jobs.
Oh god, this one is a little harder to write about. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am definitely not the best about this subject. But I have learned a few lessons this year regarding what you should and really shouldn’t do.
If I could go back and start my year over again I probably wouldn’t date at all freshman year. Just like your parents will tell you, this is truly the time for figuring out who you are and who you want to be, as well as being the time for finding your footing as a college student, and you absolutely do not need a significant other to do this.
Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my parents and I didn’t know then what I know now, so I did pretty much all of the wrong things. I dated a frat boy. I dated an older man. I dated someone (okay, someones) in my coed fraternity. I gave all that I had to people that didn’t want much from me and generally did not give a shit about how I was feeling and my emotional well being. I settled for much, much less than I deserved. I let the opinion of who I was dating dictate my self worth, and I let myself get taken advantage of time and time again. It wasn’t pretty. I wasted so much expensive mascara crying over people that did not lose a wink of sleep over me, even after I told myself I was worth so much more than 1) a one night stand 2) a shitty boyfriend, or 3) being someone’s ‘friend’ with benefits.
So all I can say is if you must date, be selective. Have high standards for yourself and stick with them. Don’t say yes to whoever flashes a smile your way because nine times out of ten it’s going to end with you on the phone with your dad at one in the morning wondering what you did wrong and why you deserved to be treated this way.
Just be oh so careful with who you entrust you heart. Make sure they deserve it.
All in all, its been the best and worst year of my life. It’s been such a challenge and I would do so many things differently if given the opportunity, but what can I say: it was freshman year. It’s supposed to be weird and terrible and wonderful all at once, and if it’s any reassurance this is how everyone feels at any given time. You just have to tough it out and hope the university doesn’t swallow you whole.
While my first year was absolutely not how I thought it was going to be and I’m definitely coming out the other side bruised and beaten, I’m still coming out the other side, and I’m not broken. I may not have all of my ducks in a row quite yet, but they are all at least in the same pond, and this wonderful life is still worth living.
oh, and I chose that to be the featured image as those are the two faces you will make the most this year, so get ready for that.