It’s weird to say that I will be graduating University soon. After watching too much way too many movies, I thought college/university was a time for sorority parties and meeting my lifelong significant other (side eye). While both those things didn’t happen for me, my experience has been a good one and comes with very little regret. Could it have been better? Absolutely! and if I could improve it, I would do so by telling my freshman self the following 7 things.
Get Involved and Figure out your interest
University is a time to figure out who you are and where you want to go. At this point in life, failure from trying new things comes with very little risk. So, start the club you’ve always wanted to, join the marching band, create your own space and use your voice. All these things will make you stand out and make your experience more meaningful. This is the part of university/college that brings the fun memories and introduces you to really amazing people.
Work experience is more important than grades
College/University is the perfect opportunity to try a variety of skills and gain relevant career experience. Volunteer in areas that match your skill, look for on campus jobs that can give insight to where you’d like to work, register for the internship program at your school and use your summers wisely. This puts you way ahead when entering the workforce not only in terms of experience but in terms of salary as well. On the other hand, if you are hoping to go on to graduate school make sure to talk to your professors and form a good relationship with them early on, look into research internship programs and take advantage of any research conferences happening in universities around you, use this time to ask important questions.
Classes will be hard but not impossible
I look back to myself as a freshman and the endless tears I shed over my papers in my room, the panic attacks that happened when I was certain I would fail a class, and the absolute dread that overcame me when I walked into one of my exams and knew not one answer to any of the questions (seriously I think the T.A felt bad for me and gave me a mark for putting my name and the date). However, looking back I can say that I was able to pass all my classes when I got my act together and started using the resources available to me. I started going to office hours, I started using the mentorship center at school, forming study groups and just googling class topics and watching YouTube instructions. All these resources were free and they helped tremendously.
Freshman 15 is very real
Like most student moving into University for me meant a small sense of independence. I got my first credit card and my first real job working at a call center, in essence, I was a very rich girl(not really). This meant that I now had the funds to live on a diet of snickers and coca cola – something I would not advise anyone to do. As you can guess that didn’t go well for my waist line or health. So, take care of yourself and eat healthily. Gaining weight is not the bad part, it’s how you gained the weight, and usually, with freshman 15 it happens due to a mix of stress and unhealthy eating habits. This can affect your mood, self-esteem and mental health. So take the extra effort to get moving and make healthier food purchases.
Take care of your mental health
I reached my breaking point this year and finally went to counseling. I committed to four months of counseling, offered by the school and my life has been better for it. Honestly, I wish I had done it sooner and not had to battle anxiety and depression by myself for 3 years. Looking back, I think about all the things that I missed out on because I was too scared to get help. I would tell my freshman self to “Just Go! and even if it’s only one session you would feel a lot better for it.” University/college is stressful and takes a toll on you mentally and physically but, If you are not in the right mindset you won’t accomplish much. Many schools offer counseling services for free so please make use of it.
Manage your time wisely (Especially as a Freshman)
(Repeat after me) “Exam time is not the time to start a new series on Netflix!!” It helps nobody but Netflix. Managing your time doesn’t mean you spend all your free time buried under a pile of assignments. You can still have fun in college, while still being high-achieving in school. It’s all about your priorities and spending countless hours on YouTube and Netflix will not set you up for success. Make sure to use a planner to keep track of deadlines, set aside a specific time to work on assignments, unplug during those moments and make sure to include some rest time as well.
Say yes to opportunities
This is my most important advice, say “yes” to opportunities, there is a whole world of opportunities out there available to university/college students. You just have to reach out and take it. Don’t be afraid that you are not qualified enough or good enough. Now is your chance to learn and you’ll never get better if you don’t say yes. Looking back this blog is here today because of a series of yes’s I made and the moments where I stamped on my fear and said: “let’s do this”. I have been rejected from countless opportunities but, I never regret the ones I have said “yes” to, only the ones I let slip away.