What Your Freshman Year of College is and isn’t
Here’s the thing: your freshman year of college is such a unique time in your life. You’re out on your own for the first time, and you suddenly have so many choices and so much freedom in front of you. It’s exhilarating and incredible and new, and that’s why we look forward to it from the time that we’re young.
However, I worry that we that we hype it up too much. Because let’s be real, it’s not all sunshine and roses. It’s hard and it’s stressful and it’s so easy to feel like maybe you’re not doing it right because it’s not exactly what you imagined.
That’s why I’m here to set the record straight and let you know what to expect and what not to expect from your freshman year.
It is a chance to be an adult and make your own choices. You’ve had parents watching your every move, telling you want to do and what not to do. And now, suddenly, you don’t. You’re alone and you can do whatever you want, and that freedom is glorious. You want to have ice cream for breakfast and stay up until sunrise? There is no one to stop you.
However, it is not actually that easy being an adult. You learn really quickly that your parents do things the way that they do for a reason. You had a curfew because it really sucks to go to an 8 am after staying out late the night before. Also, having to pay all of the bills and go grocery shopping and take care of your car when it breaks down in the middle of the road is hard. Being an adult is stressful. It’s okay to not completely jump into adulthood all at once and to call your parents for help every now and then.
It is a chance to make a new start. You’ve spent most of your life with the same people. You might have even graduated with the same people who saw you call your teacher mommy in in kindergarten. In high school all of your classmates knew you and had already formed opinions of you. In college, none of that matters anymore, and you get the chance to start fresh. You can be whoever you want to be.
However, it is not easy to change everything about yourself. You’re not going to be a new person the second you move into a dorm room. You tell yourself that you’re going to wake up with the sun and go for runs and be the fit, organized girl you always envied. And yet, two days later you will find yourself staying up late and never going for a run because that’s what you’re used to. It’s hard to make new habits. You totally can, but know that it takes a lot of effort. A new town isn’t going to instantly change you.
It is a place to make new friends. You’ve got a whole campus full of people just waiting to meet you. College is where you make a lot of your lifelong friends, and that prospect is so exciting. While you’re away from your family in school, your friends become your family, and you become incredibly close. College friends are kind of a magical thing.
However, it is not guaranteed that you will find your group of people immediately. You might not hit it off with your roommates or like anyone you meet in class. You might feel lonely some nights because it feels like you haven’t found your tribe. Don’t worry though, because as long as you’re willing to keep putting yourself out there and meeting new people, you will eventually make friends. I didn’t meet my group until halfway through my sophomore year, but now I can’t imagine life without them. Give it time and effort.
It is a chance to get out and do exciting things. You’re suddenly surrounded by thousands of young adults, and they create things to do. There will be parties, of both the large alcoholic and the intimate board game varieties. There will be late night fast food runs, and random trips to Walmart. There are movies to see, concerts to go to, countless activities to do. Whatever your speed is, there will always be fun things to do.
However, it is not required to have crazy adventures every weekend. It’s not even advised. You’re going to have to say no to an outing in order to study for your big econ test. And there are going to be nights you just want to take for yourself. Do not feel bad if it feels like the whole campus is out partying and you’re sitting on your couch watching Netflix.
It is less time in class. In high school, you were spending seven hours a day in class, and now you only have class for three hours a day. And you get to pick when those classes are, for the most part. Suddenly you have a crazy amount of unscheduled time on your hands. It seems like you can join a million clubs, get a job or two, or do anything but school!
However, it is not easier than high school by any means. You spend less time in class because your professors expect you to spend that time studying on your own. You may not have any required homework, but when your first math test rolls around, you’re going to wish that you had spent the extra time doing the practice problems. The professors expect you to put a lot of time and effort into your own studies, and it’s not a walk in the park. Let me say it again: college is hard.
It is important to focus on academics. You’re paying thousands of dollars for an education. It’s important to not put that money to waste and to study hard. The point of college, after all, is not the partying or moving away from home, it’s the incredible opportunity to learn.
However, it is not like academics are the end of the world though. College is hard. You are going to get a B even if you were a straight A student in high school. You might even fail a class. It’s okay. College classes are hard, and it’s not the end of the world if they don’t go as well as you were expecting. Put effort into your classes, but don’t let them overwhelm or ruin your life.
It is an amazing new step in your life, and you should be excited (though being a bit nervous is okay too) for it.
However, it is not the most important or the best time of your life. At least I hope not. Some parts of college have been incredibly rough, and I’ve got lots of years ahead of me after graduation. I really hope that this isn’t the peak. It’s a great time, but it’s okay if it’s not the absolute best time of your life. It’s be hard and that’s totally okay.