The other day, my alma mater shared my article, "Seven Seniors Keeping it Real" as a Facebook #tbt post. This was a piece I wrote on behalf of my SUNY Plattsburgh Admissions internship, when I was reflecting on my college journey while gearing up for the scary oh-so-real world.
SUNY Plattsburgh's Facebook post suddenly took me back to the sleepy college town, where students live in a bubble of easy classes, house parties and hookups. I could feel the autumn breeze, hear the giggles and taste the beer on my tongue as I flipped through my old college pictures while reading my #tbt blog entry.
As I walked through my freshman dorm room in my mind, I wondered, two years post-graduation, what would I share now? What knowledge do I want college freshman to be armed with today?
1. Do Not Be Someone's Side Chick. Beyonce said it best, "Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks." In college, you will experience all different types of relationships, but always remember you're the main course, the turkey at Thanksgiving, NOT the cranberry sauce.
2. Do Not Feel The Need To Fit In. My freshman year, I did NOT fit in. I arrived to college ready to make new friends, join clubs and ace all my classes. For whatever reason, that rubbed people the wrong way. Remember your college experience is all about YOU, so do every little thing YOU want to do.
3. Study Abroad. At some point during your college time, STUDY ABROAD. I left my second semester of my sophomore year to study in Brussels, Belgium and it changed my life. Before I left, I still wasn't in love with SUNY Plattsburgh. I didn't have a lot of friends and wanted to transfer. Therefore, I decided to get out of there and see a different part of the world! Studying abroad changes your perspective, when I came back to SUNY Plattsburgh I felt like a different woman and my experience changed immediately.
4. Try Everything. Join the college radio, newspaper, Greek life, student government, residence life, everything and anything! This is the time, a grand time, to put yourself out there and give new things a shot! You may even discover a career opportunity out of an academic club.
5. Befriend Your Professors. I was an ambitious freshman and remained a go-getter during my entire college experience. Get to know your professors, chat after class and seek them out when you need help during office hours. Do NOT suck up, but build professional relationships. I still email my favorite professor and it's a joy to hear from her as an "adult."
6. Do Not Lower Your Standards. Freshman year, you will be exposed to lots of different people who only want to hook up and move on to the next. If that's not on your agenda too, keep it moving. I settled for so many people who didn't want the same things as me and felt like shit as I was placed in the "hit-her-up-after-midnight-to-hook-up" category.
7. Pace Yourself. It's super easy to party every night in college, especially your freshman year when classes are easier. For the love of your body, take your time drinking and if applicable, taking drugs. If you do it right, you have the rest of your life to keep partying.
8. Get to Know Your RA. Contrary to belief, RAs aren't waiting around to write you up. As I already discussed, my freshman year was rocky and I didn't have a lot of friends. My freshman RA, Liz, was a bright spot my first year and we're still super close today. She encouraged me to get involved and keep being myself, without her love and support I would've transferred.
9. Take Advantage of Free Services. In the real world, there's no gym membership, health services or on-site activities included in rent. Make sure you go to the gym everyday and sign up for those fun classes of Zumba, spin and yoga! Once you graduate, those classes are pricey!
10. Do Not Be BFFs With Your Roomie. You will be living in tight quarters with your roomie, if you add BFF status on top of that, it's going to be way too much time together. After a long day of classes and responsibilities, you will want to go back to your own space and chill NOT talk about your day and play BFF.
11. Trust Your Gut. If you're not feeling your new roomie, class, boyfriend or college, trust that feeling. There's absolutely nothing wrong with saying, "This does NOT feel right!" and change classes, roomies, boyfriend or college. What's right for you will not pass by you.
12. Call Mom Every Week. My freshman year I was feeling so overwhelmed and confused, that calling my mom sometimes slipped my mind or was too painful because I would want to go home. However, call your mom! She will want you to call her, trust me.
13. Skip Class. Yes, skip class every once in a while. Why? Because in the real world, you will not be able to skip anything. Enjoy being able to skip class without any real consequence while you can.
14. Start Networking Now. You're never too young to start networking and building the foundation of your career. Create a blog, join a career Twitter chat and message people of interest on LinkedIn. People love to give back, so message away!
15. Be A Freshman. Enjoy being fresh! You're not a senior gearing up for the next chapter or an annoying sophomore who thinks they have it all figured out. Treasure the excitement and confusion of it all because you're only this fresh once.