“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Somehow, Charles Dickens’ first line of his classic literature novel “A Tale of Two Cities” perfectly captures the duration of my freshman year of college.
Most will agree that college is an incredibly foreign situation for incoming freshman. Students are thrown into an unfamiliar setting with others their age and left to fend for themselves after spending 18 years in a structured, systematic environment.
College students ultimately live in a bubble where social norms are absolved and all things become acceptable. This means acquiring the skill to nap anytime, anywhere, while living solely off of ramen noodles and wearing extra-large t-shirts that give the illusion you’re still as thin as you were in high school.
When freshmen arrive at their university, culture shock is inevitable. You’re mixed into a vast group of individuals who likely have differing views, values and acquired customs. Feeling as if you may transform is customary, but some students adapt well and embrace their sense of freedom with full force and lack of inhibition.
As I dolefully pack my things and get ready to travel home for the summer, I can’t help but reflect on the valuable lessons, embarrassing moments and timeless friendships I’ve created this past year. So, here are the most noteworthy things I learned during my freshman year of college.
It’s Not Like the Movies
Movies like “Legally Blonde,” “The Neighbors,” “Sydney White,” “Pitch Perfect” and “Spring Breakers” continue to create a false depiction of many aspects of college life. Ultimately, the media creates an overwhelming idea that college life is consumed with rowdy parties, underage drinking, scandalous hookups and elite acapella teams.
Although it would be naïve to believe these things didn’t occur, there are many aspects of college life that the media neglects and trivializes.
For instance, not every student immediately assimilates into their college campus because they feel lost, confused and out of control which are all typical emotions of a freshman student. Personally, I experienced all of these emotions, as I’m sure many others do as they are removed from the confines of their comfort zones.
The majority of freshman, according to the New York Times, have suffered from anxiety, depression and homesickness, which are common mental illnesses the media lacks to portray.
You Don’t Have to Peak in High School
Ever feel like if high school was a game you would’ve won? If so, you probably peaked in high school and many realize this harsh reality when arriving at college. Those who were captain of their sporting teams, homecoming royals or at the top of their class are in for a rude awakening upon arriving on campus.
The majority of students on college campuses thrived in high school and therefore, things essentially become more competitive among aspiring students. It’s going to be much more difficult to land a spot on a sports team, student government or honor society when many students are just as qualified as you are.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to absolve your title of high school hero and become a college conqueror. There are countless internship opportunities that give students the ability to put their foot in the door and gain hands on experience in a field they are interested in pursuing.
Taking advantage of these opportunities will likely outdo any accomplishments you earned in high school and will strengthen your resume and expand your career qualifications.
College campuses provide endless amounts of opportunities for social involvement that many freshmen don’t take advantage of. It’s critical to establish yourself early in your college years in order to create the possibility of landing a leadership position in the organization you’ve become acquainted with.
I got involved with Greek Life, which has allowed me to take on incredible service projects, have an academic support network and given me the ability to grow friendships with a diverse group of individuals who share a common interest.
Joining different organizations gives one the opportunity to create a common connection with incredible men and women across the nation. These connections give many the ability to develop networking opportunities and foster relationships that will serve beneficial for the rest of their lives.
I’ve learned that it’s essential to be ambitious, put yourself out of what’s comfortable and jump into things with an open mind. Through organizational involvement you’re likely to discover your strengths, passions and talents.
Perfect Schedules Don’t Exist
When registration rolls around, freshmen can’t help but feel overwhelmed and stressed as they observe upperclassman enrolling in classes they are required to take. When classes begin to fill to maximum capacity, freshman are struck with the realization that their alarm clock will be going off at the crack of dawn because they have the much dreaded 8 a.m. class.
College registration is seemingly equivalent to “the Hunger Games,” except the academic version. Students make a plan of action, have to adapt, wait around and as soon as their time comes around, they furiously punch class registration numbers into their keyboards. As a freshman, receiving a perfect class schedule is improbable and this fact is essential to understand prior to registering.
You Aren’t Guaranteed to Meet Your Future Spouse
Many students arrive at their university expecting to meet their future spouse. According to Business Insider, only 28 percent of college students meet their spouse at their university. These statistics aren’t exactly promising, which is why you shouldn’t rely on finding the most suitable husband or wife during your collegiate years.
Although you may not find your soulmate at your university, I’ve learned that it’s important to date while in college. It’s an enjoyable way to discover yourself and an excuse to break free from sweat pants, messy buns and fast-food. Throwing on tasteful attire and getting primped for a night out is a refreshing experience that allows one to be optimistic and see there are more fish in the sea.
Regardless of the downsides, freshman year is a rite of passage and coming of age experience that lays the foundation for the remainder of your college career. It’s a fresh start that permits one to reinvent themselves and strive to create the best version of their character. No matter how much research you do and advice you receive, nothing will prepare you for your freshman year of college like your freshman year of college.