I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we said we have no regrets, or had nothing we would change in our past. For example, I wish I could have a “redo” of my college years – specifically my freshman year. That made me wonder how current college students or recent college graduates would respond when asked, “If you had your freshman year to do over, would you change anything?” I enlisted the help of my college-age kids and a few other young adults to see what advice they could give high school seniors. Here is what they had to say.
- Get involved! Whether it be clubs and organizations, Greek life, or intramurals, the best way to meet people and be part of college life is to get involved. It’s not good for first-year students to only go to class, the cafeteria, and spend the rest of their time in a dorm room. Also, no matter how “lame” the orientation activities seem, attend them! Students who attend will get to know each other and you may feel left out.
My daughter joined a sorority and although she was apprehensive prior to going through rush, she said it was one of the best things that she ever did. She met dozens of girls prior to the first day of classes, and it was so comforting for her to see familiar faces around campus.
Intramurals are also a great way to meet people in a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Several of the students I questioned said that they wish they were more involved with intramurals. Even if you were never the athletic type, there are competitions for all kinds of students and it’s a great stress reliever!
- Be open minded! Obviously not everyone on campus will have your same likes, interests, religious background, and upbringing. Although it’s comfortable to hang out with people you relate to, don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons and connect with students who are different than you. You might begin to see things differently and you’ll learn a lot about this world by embracing diversity. Honestly, how boring would it be if everyone liked the same things, looked alike, and had the same beliefs? Don’t be afraid to try new things such as food, activities or even classes. It’s all about finding your place in this world and what better way to figure that out than to explore the unknown.
- Be yourself! Some college freshmen feel the need to become someone or something that they are not. Don’t be fake with people, and don’t be ashamed of who you are or where you’ve come from. This is a new beginning for you so hold your head high and know that you are just as worthy as the next person! This is your opportunity to be yourself, grow, and pursue what interests you – on your own terms!
- Go to class!! This new found independence is pretty awesome, but you have to be responsible and disciplined! There are no parents to wake you up, make breakfast for you, or remind you to study. In order to stay on top of your classes, you have to GO to them!! Professors take notice of who is coming to class late (or not at all) and it could affect your grade adversely!
- Get to know your professors! During the first couple of weeks, make the effort to introduce yourself to your professors. You may not think this is very important, but if you get to know them and use their office hours to ask questions, they’ll know that you take your studies seriously. Knowing your professors could benefit you when it comes time to request a letter of recommendation. I gave this advice to my kids and although they were reluctant at first, they both expressed the importance of being a person that the professor recognizes!
- Take your own path! It’s important to realize that not everyone’s path is the same! Don’t take unnecessary classes because your friend talked you into it. Don’t stress because you couldn’t decide on a major and now you feel as though you’re behind others your age or choose a major because you were too scared to pursue what you really want to do in life. We all grow at our own pace and with our own learning style. So don’t worry too much and learn to enjoy the journey!
I’m hoping that hearing this advice from students who have been there/done that, will help you to be a little more prepared when you enter college. Good Luck seniors and enjoy the ride!