My older sister Kate has always been my best friend and biggest role model. She’s two years older than I am, so I’ve been lucky enough to have her go through every major life step before I did. From learning how to swim to driving a car, she was always there with advice and support. As a high school graduation present, she gave me a list of 51 things she wished she would have known when she was a freshman in college. For everyone who isn’t lucky enough to have a sage older sister, I thought I’d share a few highlights of her college wisdom along with a few of my own experiences.
1. Never hit the snooze button more than once. You have a roommate now who will start hating your wake up tone.
One time my roommate took a shower in the morning and forgot to turn her alarm off first. Enrique Iglesias “Hero” then played for the next 10 minutes. It was the worst morning of my life.
2. Be nice to food service workers and Department of Public Safety (DPS) workers
The food service workers here are awesome. Not only do they have to put up with a constant flow of hungry college kids, but they’re willing to share a joke or a story if you take the time to ask how their day is. Kate claims DPS officers have given her rides in their golf carts, but this has yet to happen to me.
3. Discomfort means growth
If I never went outside of my comfort zone, I would seldom venture outside of my dorm room. However, I forced myself to join organizations I was interested in even if my friends didn’t, and went to lunch with people I barely knew. Exposing yourself to new people and situations is the only way you will grow.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re in college. Have fun.
You’ll probably fall off the treadmill at the gym or drop your plate of food in the cafeteria once or twice. It is not that big of a deal. You are not that big of a deal. Move on.
5. Don’t take things too lightly. Grades and reputation DO matter.
It is also easy to want to sleep through every single class and eat four bags of popcorn a night. Don’t do it.
6. One spray of hairspray to the face keeps your eye makeup from running or smudging.
This does not work if it is raining or snowing outside. Thank you St. Louis weather.
7. People often develop a case of FOMO in college (fear of missing out). You’ll be happier if you don’t worry what everyone else is doing.
In college, I realized I had the option to be with people constantly. However, I had to learn it is an OPTION, not a reality. It’s healthy to be alone every once and a while.
8. “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back suddenly everything is different?” CS Lewis. Change will happen. But it’s both necessary and graceful.
If I had to sum up the transition from high school to college, it would be this quote. Both Kate and C.S. Lewis were spot on with this one. I’m not quite sure when these strangers became some of my closest friends or when I stopped missing my dog so much, but things have definitely changed since the first week of school.
9. You can rent bikes from the rec center
This was a lie. The guy at the rec center didn’t know what I was talking about. Thanks, Kate.
10. Write a letter to a friend once a month. Mail is fun
Sure, you can Facebook and Skype your friends, but there is nothing quite like getting a hand written letter or mixed CD in your mailbox. However, I advise you to keep track of your mail room key. And if you find mine, let me know.
11. Ask upperclassmen stupid questions
Upperclassmen that I met the first few weeks of college were some of the greatest resources I had at school. They had all been through freshmen year before, and were willing to share everything from which teachers to take to what to get involved in.
12. Call your parents. If they talk too much, call before class so you have a legitimate reason to “need to go.”
Even though I’m only twenty minutes away from home, I still miss talking to my parents every night like I did in high school. Several calls throughout the week to tell them little things about my day made being away less hard for both of us.
13. Don’t overload the washing machines or your clothes won’t get clean
Sometimes I use up to three washing machines to do a load of laundry. I have no shame.
14. If you are having trouble getting As on your papers, email your teacher a rough draft a week or so before the paper is due and ask for criticism.
Being a procrastinator, I was generally writing papers hours before they were due in high school. Writing a draft a week in advance not only allowed me to get help from the professor, it also gave me time to revise and edit.
15. Give it your all. College is your time to be idealistic, foolish, visionary, and crazy. Don’t pass that up.
I’ve only been here a year, but I have determined 4 years is an alarmingly brief time. I intend to make the most of it.