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by Corey Gray
College is a major leap in our lives, if you choose to go. It’s where we are able to grow and mature from being an at least semi-dependent person to a self-sufficient adult. I know from experience that that can be extremely intimidating. Being placed in a new environment with all new people is hard. You have the ability to completely rebrand yourself from your former life, but you also don’t have really any friend group or support. I want to share a few tips that I wish someone had told me when I was in your position.
Don’t be intimidated by upperclassmen. When I first started college, I viewed the upperclassmen the same way I viewed upperclassmen in high school. I was scared of their judgment, and jealous of how put together they all seemed, so even when one of them would reach out and talk to me, I would be terrified. I didn’t view them really as equals, but as elders, in a way. As the year went on, I became close with many upperclassmen, but it took a while for me to view myself as their equal. Now that I’m an upperclassmen, I’m going to try my best to be as kind and friendly to the new freshman because it’s so much easier settling into your new college student role once you stop viewing yourself as a scared first-year. Upperclassmen have all been in your shoes, and I can assure the majority of us are more than happy to offer advice or answer questions.
The second thing I wish I knew is you really only get as much out of college as you put in. Professors tend to be less understanding (unless it’s something serious) about missed classes and work. College may seem like the time to break free of your shackles of childhood and live your own life, but you have to remember that the actual schooling comes first. I recommend that you make sure all of your professors know you by name and that you keep an open dialogue between you and them. They’ll be much more understanding if something comes up in your life if you make sure that they know who you are.
Lastly, popularity doesn’t really exist in college. There is no social hierarchy. It’s more like a big community where you all live together and generally stick to yourself and your friends. The business of others isn’t your business, and frankly, you won’t even know by name or face most of the people at your school. Everyday at school I saw new faces. Everyone is just concerned with making sure their own life and work is in check, so gossiping about your fellow schoolmates isn’t really a big thing.
College is scary no doubt about it, but that doesn’t mean you should be scared. Once you fight through the initial spook of the new environment, and shed the lingering notions of what school is from when you were in high school, you’ll be fine. You don’t have anyone to impress other than yourself. And please remember, stay hydrated and eat as healthy as possible! Don’t let freshman year do you in.