For this question, I’m not qualified to answer, so I asked your siblings.
My freshman year of college was a disaster mostly because I was sick, but also because I wasn’t ready or willing to make the most of the situation. My immediate family either took forever to finish school or got married and then took forever to finish school or just never quite got around to getting a degree because of art or the art of laziness, which is still an art, dontchaknow.
This list is ranked by most vehemently suggested or most often suggested down to the one suggestion that is so obvious it’s utterly silly to include in the list.
These are their pointers to you and the pointers they wish they had taken to heart before they were freshmen themselves. Your sibs were eager to help because they are adorable.
- Take notes and do the homework even if it’s “optional.” Taking notes will help you focus. When you look over them later in the day, you can copy them or clean them up if they don’t seem to be helpful. Doing the homework may not be part of your grade, except that it’s always part of your grade. It will help you retain ideas if you practice, and homework is that type of tool.
- Go to class. Even if you think that there is nothing else to gain by going to a lecture or a lab, do it. There’s no substitute for being there. Video is cool, but it’s still not being there.
- Try new things every day and go to silly campus activities. This one surprised me a bit, but they all agree very strongly that goofy activities are the icing on the cake of college.
- No “all-nighters.” Staying up all night has never worked for any of us. You’ll just be much, much more tired and just as dumb the next day.
- On weekends, don’t hang around the dorm. Weekends will give you time to catch up on work, but part of that work is flexing your social skills and this is a great time to push yourself socially. Your brother gave a very rousing speech on freedom, I’m sure you can imagine. You are the most free you have ever been, so study that too.
- Let your ambitions roam free also. You probably will not have to “declare” a major yet (you shouldn’t have to), and that’s a very good change in the past few decades. Try new things and consider the odd little inklings that come to you. You are there to learn about yourself, too.
- Don’t loan out your notebook. Never loan your notes or notebook or laptop or whatnot to anyone. It may seem harmless, but one morning you will wake up and realize that some girl named Pamela has run off with your notes on photosynthesis and you’ll never be able to reconstruct them in time. You begin to think she looked like trouble and then you are wondering how you could have overlooked her shady side. While in this reverie you may discover that you really are meant to be a playwright after all, but it is still a very bad idea to loan your notes, so don’t do that.
- When you drink, be kind to yourself. I know you will drink. Even your siblings who don’t really drink did some drinking in college. Just stay hydrated, take it slow, don’t drive anything (even a bike) and don’t get the stupors among strangers.
- Do not let your roommate adopt an illegal cat. A tiny kitten can cause huge discomfort if its bowels are exploding and you can’t air out the room because the kitten is a contraband cat. You also will not be able to scream when it has nightmares on your rib cage and tears at your flesh. You know this is true. Look away from it’s tiny contraband eyes…
It’s okay to not have 100% fun, too. Just keep eating and reading and give it a chance. The times you screw up in college can be tremendously educational too. Truly, there is no fail, there is only try.
We are really proud of you!!