What I wish I knew before starting college


College. The final frontier before reaching adulthood. You’ll have some of the most amazing years of your life, with new friends, new opportunities, and new places to explore. However, as an incoming freshman, not knowing what to expect and having to navigate it all on your own can be intimidating. But don’t sweat it! Here are some insider tips from a college senior who’s seen it all.

1. Everyone gets homesick

Everyone gets homesick at least once during freshman year. It can be a challenging transition, especially if you go to a campus far away from home. There are lots of little things you might miss, like your mom’s Sunday nachos or hanging out with your dog. When homesickness hits, the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. The coolest thing about college is that everyone is in the same boat. This means you can definitely bond with your roommates, floor mates, classmates, or even the cafeteria ladies over how you’re feeling, because they’re all feeling the same way, too.

2. Get involved

Dorm life is one of the biggest parts of the college experience, especially freshman year. Approach it with an open mind. Don’t expect to be best friends with your roommate, but don’t give up on the idea, either. You never know who you’re going to meet. The best thing to do is get involved. Go to fun dorm events — a lot of times they’ll have free food! You can meet lots of people and bond with them over not enjoying the shared bathrooms or the weird smells in the elevators.

3. Professors aren’t the same as teachers

One of the most surprising differences between high school and college is how classes are taught and what’s expected from students. For one thing, you don’t have to raise your hand to go to the bathroom, just go! The last thing a professor wants is to be interrupted during a lecture — unless, of course, you have a good question! Be prepared to have much more expected of you. A professor once told me that they are just guides. They’ll help you when you need it, but you’ve got to put in the work first. And they probably won’t remind you when assignments are due, so be sure to keep on top of that.

4. It’s OK to be undeclared

Picking a major or minor can seem impossible when you aren’t sure what you want to do. If you’re going in undeclared as a freshman, don’t panic. College is the place to figure out what you’re passionate about, and you have time to discover what that is for you. 80% of students end up changing their college major anyway, so don’t worry!

5. You don’t have to do it all

There will be a ton of clubs to join and events to attend. It can be tempting to join as many as you can. But it’s not productive to be busy all the time. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll never end up getting to know the people or subjects very well, and your grades can suffer. So pick your top two interests — whether it’s fencing, acapella, or robotics — and get really involved in them.

College is challenging, scary, and new, but every freshman is going through the same thing. Be yourself, get involved, and study hard. It won’t always be easy, but it is so worth it.

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About the author

Mackinna HartMackinna is currently a student at Belmont University studying music business. She is also a firm believer that a spoonful of Nutella can solve any problem! She loves to write and be creative whether that be via songs, articles, or poetry.

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