To the Incoming College First Year,

You’re about to be on your own. I know it sounds scary, but trust me, it’s the best feeling in the world. This is the year you’re gonna learn that you are truly the only person who knows what’s best for you, and how to do laundry. And you’re gonna learn that your parents aren’t always right but that distance will make you love them even more. Three phone calls a day to your parents is OK, and so is crying (relax, you’re human).

Your classes are going to be hard but that is your one job when you’re at school, unless of course you work elsewhere. The work will feel endless at first, but you will come up with a plan to manage it. Managing your time in school between alone-time, friends, activities, and school work is the first challenge you will face. Orientation will end and the work will hit you like a brick wall, but embrace that challenge. Get a planner and write all you have to do/want to do down. Make a list of your goals and a list of daily rituals you want to accomplish every morning (gym, write, read, etc.). Make sure you find some sort of outlet/meditation that you will enjoy and that you can reward yourself with after writing five page papers.

Write those five page papers somewhere where you can get inspired. I personally like sitting outside when it’s nice. Sure I get distracted, but those distractions only lead to wilder, more original thoughts. Explore the libraries and student centers at your school. Find a place of study that feels like it was made for you, with the right volume and scenery.

You will also have a lot of free time but it is up to you what you do with that. Parties will tempt you and FOMO will forever haunt you, but it is up to you to decide your limits. Make sure you know what you want, and that if it is going out to parties, you are with people you can trust. Just because a party is going on, doesn’t mean you have to go. I promise, most frat parties are sticky, sweaty, and loud. It’s really fun, but they do get kind of old after a while (usually by the end of freshman year), depending on the people you are with! There will always be other events to go to and projects to work on, so make sure you know your options (Facebook events saved my life.)

That leads me into the more serious topic of never being alone. Whether you are walking alone at night (any gender) while on the way to get food, or if you are in a frat house, never go alone. The world can be dangerous and you must always have a charged phone in case of emergency. Remember you are in the REAL world now, not the town you know and are used to. I know you are thinking one thing while reading this, “Mom?”. But seriously, don’t make your parents worry or lose trust in you.

Drugs will be everywhere. The cleanest people you’ll meet will be doing hard drugs. This is something you can escape but it’s up to you to judge your friends. I would suggest exiting the room if you can while people are doing drugs. You never want to be an accomplice, even if you weren’t participating, you still witnessed it happen. Just stay away from illegal activities, that is all I have to say. It should be obvious but in the college world, it’s harder to get away from.

Alcohol will take time out of your day, and also help you lose friends. If you want to go to a party, you don’t have to drink. Trust me, it’s not that great. You end up feeling shitty the whole next day, when you could be in the light and having a beautiful day. You see there are people that move from the light to the darkness (drug addicts, when one consumes alcohol, etc.) and there are those who move from the light to the light. I’m sure you’ve been to a few parties in high school, but when there are parties five nights a week, the temptation to always be drinking is real. Alcohol messes with your judgement and you’ll do things you otherwise wouldn’t whilst in the “darkness” You can bring a water or soda to carry around at the party to “fit in” if need be. You’ll thank me in the long run.

Find your passion. The great thing about the huge world of college is your ability to find like-minded people by just putting yourself out there. Everyone in college is somehow a lot more friendly and mature. I think everyone grows up a little once they are thrown out of the nest. They realize that they actually have to be kind if people are going to enjoy their company, so they change a bit. Ask around, change your major five times, and don’t be afraid of the unknown. In fact, never let fear hold you back from anything. Even the professors in college want to help their students, so never think you are alone. Find someone wonderful to mentor you, whether it is a professor, TA, or advisor. These are the people who want you to succeed and keep up the hard work. They may even offer you knowledgable, life changing advice.

Friends will come and go, but that is life. I guarantee you that you don’t need to pay for friends and that the best people you’ll ever meet are waiting for you down the hall. You are going to meet the people you wish went to your high school this year. It’s truly magical how things work out in new environments. However, greek life is still appealing to many and you should definitely check it out through a few events if you haven’t. Personally, I am much more of a ‘loner’ so i prefer to spend my free time working on myself, rather than being told what to work on- but that is PERSONAL. Like I said earlier, college offers more opportunities than you can imagine, so make sure you know about all of them, not just what is popular/mainstream.

Most of all, do what you can’t. Your whole life you have been told what is right/wrong and what you can and can’t do. This is your chance to prove yourself wrong. Take advantage of your inspirations, ideas, and surroundings. You are nothing to your new life in college. You are no one to the people you haven’t met yet. Be whoever it is you want to be, this is the start of your new life as a college student. You have made it this far, I bet you can do anything you dedicate yourself to.

Remember :“If you want to get to the castle, Groceries, you’ve got to swim the moat.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

I will continue these tips in a part 2 coming soon!

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