As a freshman in college, the past few months have brought great change into my life. Now that I finally feel a bit more settled into my new lifestyle, I have compiled a list of the ten most important things that I have already discovered during my time here at Bentley University.
I’m sure I have much more to learn and discover, and I cannot wait to experience this next stage of my life.
1. Freedom Is Scary
Yeah, the independence is liberating, but it’s also a little scary being on your own. Sometimes you open your drawer and realize there are no clean clothes left. No one will really know if you take the dirty jeans from your hamper, right? When your button falls off, Mom isn’t around to fix it, and you realize that you probably should have learned to sew last summer. And when your laptop spazzes, Dad isn’t around to fix it with one click. The first time you get sick, you will convince yourself that you have a deadly infection that you read about online, but I promise you will recover faster than you think. It’s going to take a while to get used to the newly gained independence.
2. Freedom Is Also Fun
Yet, the freedom is also exhilarating. It starts even before you even get to college, when you pick courses during the summer. That’s when you realize that college isn’t the 7:00am to 3:00pm classroom you’re used to. Here, you pick your own schedule. You eat when you want, sleep when you want (provided you don’t skip class!) and basically create your own lifestyle.
Even with the general required subjects, you pick courses that pique your interest. Classes like Human Trafficking and Global Slavery and Behavioral Health in Natural Disaster Zones are just some of the cool topics you get to explore. You don’t have to quarrel with your brother about what TV show to watch, or yell at your sister for taking your shirt again. Living life on your own can be exciting.
3. It’s Okay to Eat Alone Sometimes
To be completely honest, my worst fear for college was walking into the cafeteria and having to eat alone. There’s just something scary about the notion of being surrounded by upperclassmen that all sit in their respective friend groups, while you eat in solitude.
But guess what? No one cares. Plenty of people go to the cafeteria by themselves, and it’s totally okay. Everyone’s on their own schedule here, and while it’s great to chat with friends over a meal, it’s not a social necessity by any means. You should be making some personal time for yourself anyways, so this might be a good time to do so.
4. Upperclassmen Are Not Scary Giants
When you first get here, it seems like there is a divide between you, as the freshman, and the upperclassmen. It’s almost as if they’re adults who have their lives together, and you’re still the children learning how to get around, but that’s not how it really works.
In fact, you may even have classes with some of them and realize they’re friendly and helpful. Although you may feel like you might as well walk around with a “freshman” label on your forehead, you will not be singled out. (Unless you call the Bentley cafeteria Seasons 921. Then you will definitely be pegged a freshman. Don’t do it! J)
In all seriousness though, there really is minimal difference between you as a freshman and the rest of the student body.
5. You Don’t Have to Be Best Friends With the People You Meet During First Week
You will meet so many people in college. At first, everyone you meet will become your friend. Completely understandable; it’s so easy to make friends here: just smile, say hello and you’re already there. You’ll exchange contact information and coordinate meals and workshops with these new friends.
But when classes begin, you may find yourself spending less and less time with these people. That’s okay. Part of the college experience is finding friends who bring out the best in you, and while the people you meet are all amazing, it’s fine to expand your horizons until you find a group that you feel comfortable with.
6. You Have to Manage Your Free Time
Without the structured schedule, you’ll probably find yourself with more time on your hands. Honestly, I repeatedly find myself debating whether to take naps in between my class times. However, this obviously isn’t proper use of my time.
If you find yourself idle during free time, try and do something productive instead. Join a student organization, engage in service learning or get ahead on homework and projects. Time management is key, and careful organizational skills will reduce overwhelming stress before deadlines.
7. It’s Super Easy to Spend Too Much Money
Whether you’re a finance major or not, you’ll quickly realize how fast money slips away when you’re at college. Everyone who always said that money doesn’t grow on trees was right. It’s easy to use the debit card for some harmless online shopping, but you’ll find that the expenses add up. The vending machines are always tempting, as well. Make sure you budget properly, and keep track of where your money is being used. If reasonable, you may even want to consider getting a job to make some cash.
8. It’s Okay To Be Homesick Sometimes
For many of us, it’s the first time being away from home for such a long time. It’s inevitable to miss home sometimes. Currito’s makes some tasty burritos, but you’ll miss Mom’s homemade casseroles. Your dorm here has been decorated to fit your personality, but you’ll miss your own bed back home.
This is normal!
When you find yourself homesick, know that many of the people you miss are just a phone call or text away. Our parents miss us just as much as we miss them, and hearing from us always brightens their day. Video chatting and seeing your family’s faces also helps in mitigating the loneliness.
Want some more tips for dealing with homesickness? Read Espie’s blog post.
9. Reaching Out for Help Is NOT a Sign of Weakness
Yes, we are adults now. But just because we can make our own decisions doesn’t mean we can’t reach for help sometimes. At Bentley, there are many people we can go to if we ever need anything. The Center for Health and Wellness can get you the correct medication if you’re feeling sick. If you just need someone to talk with, the Counseling Center provides confidential services to just listen and help you out. Of course, your friends are also there for you.
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. Rather, it demonstrates that you have the initiative and drive to improve, which is actually a strength in itself.
10. This Year Is Going to Be What You Make of It
Well, this is it. You’re in college, what many people call the “best four years of your life”. And you know what? It’s completely up to YOU what you make of your time at college. Universities provide us with all the tools needed to succeed, but it’s entirely in our hands to shape our future.
So work hard, have fun, and be happy. The year is going to be a roller coaster, but it will definitely be worthwhile.