Yeah you, with the heavy backpack because you weren’t sure what books to bring on the first day.
You with the confused, terrified look on your face. You with the crinkled up printed schedule in your hand.
You, holding your breath, let it out.
You made it this far already.
You drove or walked all the way to campus, parked, and found your way here.
But now you’re not quite sure where to go, right?
Breathe. Breathe so you can open your mouth and ask for directions. Don’t be afraid of these people who have been where you are, standing there shaking, before.
As a matter of fact, one of these people might share a class with you. One of these people might point out all of the buildings you’ll have class in this semester. One of these people, who seem to know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going, might become your first college friend.
You’ve made it past kindergarten, past middle school (if you did that, you can do anything), and even past high school. And you adapted each time. This is the place where you will adapt, discover your calling, and find out who you truly are all in 4 or more years.
I was you. I laid on my couch, clinging to a pillow, crying and panicking two weeks before my first day of class. I told Dad I didn’t want to go, that I wasn’t ready. But I went. And now it’s nearly over for me.
I’ve learned so much about myself as I drove past all of the speed bumps and obstacles. And I’m still here to tell the tale. So Freshie, take a deep breath and listen up.
Ask the questions.
Where is my next class? What is this professor like? Where should I eat today? When should I get my textbooks?
Ask questions in class. Get to know your professors. Ask about their grading. Read the syllabus because if it’s on the syllabus they won’t email you back.
Find your club, organization, charity or sport. Find your home away from home in the people you get to know, the places you enjoy sitting to study and the subject you love the most.
Be a note taker. At LSU there’s benefits for students who take notes for other students who struggle. You get a letter of recommendation or first dibs on scheduling the next semester. Sometimes, you even meet friends you’ll keep in touch with for a long time.
Explore your interests and make a variety of friends and connections. College can be lonely at times, but always make sure you have people to smile and wave to between classes. It makes a difference.
The best way to learn your way around campus is to get lost. Don’t be embarrassed, laugh at it and learn from it. Those people you saw at orientation are just as stressed and lost as you are. Think of it as being lost together. At least you aren’t lost alone.
The best way to see the best views is to get lost. I found my favorite relaxation spot behind the Union, under the oaks where a constant breeze blows and squirrels roam around picking up any Chick-Fil-A a wandering student dropped.
Get lost and find yourself. College is an adventure in many ways, and it’s worth every stressful second.
Take it day by day.
Some days are going to completely suck. Someone will hit your car in the parking lot, a car will drive by and splash you on the sidewalk on a rainy day, you’ll get a bad grade and you’ll walk into the wrong classroom.
But some days are going to be the best. You’ll meet someone new, you’ll laugh at the bad days, your professor will curve that test you worried about and someone else will walk into the wrong classroom. (If we don’t laugh with each other, what fun is that)?
Learn your pace, and don’t overwork yourself. Take a break between classes. Save the homework for later, and let yourself breathe a little.
Words of wisdom from a Senior to a Freshman:
- Bring a water bottle/travel mug. There’s nothing better to drink than free water all day.
- Dress comfortably, whatever that means to you. Be a mess some days and dress to impress (yourself) other days.
- Buy your scantrons in advance.
- Park close to your last class so you can hit the road at the end of the day, unless you have a late morning. Then you park wherever the heck, and sprint to class (just kidding; half the time your professor will be late, too).
- Compare textbook prices. Buy used. Don’t rent. If you buy them, at least you can get some money back by reselling. Don’t ever rent a book for over $100 that you can’t own. That’s ridiculous and that’s how they trick ya.
- Smile at people.
- Take a few moments to appreciate the beauty around you. All these people with different stories. All the oak trees. The old buildings.
- Bring your lunch if you can, save that money and avoid the 2 ways you can get the “Freshmen 15:” $15 left to your name or 15 pounds straight to your butt.
- Appreciate the alone time. Everyone sits alone in the Union. Use it as study time or time to recuperate.
- Be yourself. Don’t try so hard to fit in where everyone is trying to stand out. Dress how you want, be kind to people and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
- Watch your mental health. You’ll have ups and downs. Take advantage of the places on campus that can help you for free: counselors, etc…
- Don’t shut your family out. They know you best and they’ll always be there. Just because you’re all “independent” and in college now doesn’t mean you should forget the people who got you there.
- Have faith! Pray before your tests and leave some room for Jesus in a busy life.
- Change your major once or twice. (We’ve all done it).
- Tell yourself you got this, because you do. Adapt, accept, and be awesome.
So Freshie, listen to me.
Listen to me because I listened to everyone before me. I still listen to people’s advice because they want to help. And because they’ve been there.
A few years from now, no matter how long it takes, because it’s different for everyone, you’re going to be reminiscing on your first few months and missing them. Sure, you’ll be ready to roll on out and see the real world, but you’ll miss it.
You’ll appreciate every second. And you’ll be damn proud of yourself.
So breathe, smile and let yourself enjoy it while it lasts!