By unigoofficeCollege– The Next Chapter! Are you excited?, Kryshana Ananthan If you’re about to start college, there are so many things you may be feeling– Excited, happy, optimistic, ecstatic maybe? Or, perhaps you’re feeling anxious, nervous, unsure about whether you’ve made the right decision (about a major, a school, or whether you’ll fit in), feeling a little clueless? Or, maybe you feel nothing at all. You think, “Hey it’s just a new school, new year.” Whatever it is you’re feeling, it’s normal! Everyone feels differently about starting college, and when you start college you realize, everyone experiences it differently too. Starting college is starting an entirely new chapter of your life! One of the most important things about starting this journey, is to keep an open mind. The thing about college is, that it’s a truly unique experience. Theodore Roosevelt said his college experience was about having four more years to play football. Robert Frost said college was refuge from hasty judgment for him. J.K. Rowling said her overactive imagination was put to good use at college. For me, it’s been about finally knowing what I want to do with my life and, more importantly, finding the people who have and will stand by me through it– my friends, my classmates, my colleagues– a family of crazy, unique individuals who’ve truly inspired me and made a profound difference in my life. I don’t know where you’re headed, but wherever you’re going, remember that this journey you’re about to take is filled with ups and downs and lefts and rights! You may encounter things you never would have imagined, and things could be really easy or really hard. It could go either way. Whatever it is, remember the journey is what counts. You’ll learn so many things along the way, and in learning, you’ll grow, and as you grow, you’ll start to surprise yourself. So, let’s start talking about some of the things you should probably expect and be prepared for! For one, there’s dorm life! It’s a completely new living situation and you’re probably going to spend the next year living with a new person– someone who until now, was a complete stranger to you– your new roommate(s). Your roommate may turn out to be absolutely perfect. By the end of the year, you guys may be best friends. You may live together in perfect harmony, and that’s the ideal situation everyone wants, but it’s not so simple. Your roommate might be your polar opposite. You may want things impeccably neat and clean, and your roommate may enjoy messy spaces. You may want a night light switched on when you sleep, and (s)he may think night lights are lame. You may have exams, and your roommate may decide to throw parties in your room, and the list can go on for pages! Living with someone new is a huge adjustment. You’ll learn so much about the person and yourself. Some things you may like, and some things, not so much. The most important thing about this new way of living, is always keeping the lines of communication open. You and your roommate don’t have to be best friends, but you also shouldn’t have to be mortal enemies. You want to, at the very least keep things between you and your roommate civil. The best way to do this is to talk! Talk to your roommate about your likes and dislikes. You might be allergic to blueberries and not want blueberries in your fridge, so that would be something important to share. Other things to talk about would be sleeping habits, studying habits, weekend habits, what you’re willing and not willing to share, how you might like the room decorated…etc. Just keep the lines of communication open, and talk about the things you need to talk about, from the very first day! Now that you’re all settled in and getting along with your roommate just fine, let’s talk about Orientation. Most schools have an orientation weekend or week, and while you might be tempted to skip those “boring” sessions everyone seems to sleep at, please don’t! Your college orientation is important. Trust me! You only realize how important it is when you’ve already started college, and by then, it’s too late! At your orientation you’ll learn so much about your school and the resources they have to offer you, which become more valuable as your college career progresses. If you still don’t think it’s worth going, just go because it’s a great chance for you to meet people, make new friends and start to become a part of your college community. Orientation is a great time to make friends! Some of my best friends today are the ones I met during orientation, my freshman year. What about classes? Well, some freshmen start college knowing exactly what they want – their major, the classes they want to take, perhaps even the professors they want! If you’re one of them, you might be tempted to skip over this section, and if you really want to, you can. But before you do, here’s some advice. Don’t be afraid to explore. You may think you know what you want, but if you don’t at least dabble in a few different things you’ll never know if there’s something better. The great thing about college is that you can explore so many subjects! So, take risks and explore a little. If you’re starting college with not a clue as to what you’d like to major in or where to start, that’s perfectly fine. The trick is to take a variety of classes. Perhaps, your first semester of freshman year, you might want to take Biology, Fine Arts, French, Dance and Philosophy. Or, you might want to do Literature, Physics, Geography, Music and Business. These seem random, and they are! That’s the point! If you don’t know what you want to do, you want to explore as much as you can. By the time you’re a sophomore, chances are, you’ll know where you belong. When you’re registering for classes, be sure to set your schedule up to suit you. Tailor your college experience to best fit you! Don’t overload yourself! If you’re unsure, talk to an academic advisor or a guidance counsellor. They’re so incredibly helpful! So we’ve covered dorms, orientation & classes. What else? Well, your social life! Make the best of your college experience! Get involved. Talk to people, network, make lots of friends and have fun. While, you are at college to earn a degree and get an education, that’s not all there is to it. My mom always told me that a happy heart is the key to a healthy mind. It sounds cliché and pretty cheesy, but it’s true. Having a good, strong support system of friends will keep you happy and in turn really help you cope with the pressures that you may have to deal with. Go for a party every once in a while, get out of your dorm room, take a walk around campus and say hi to a few people, get involved in a club or a fraternity or a team. Play! Remember, you need a break sometimes. Know yourself and how you like to unwind, what you enjoy and how you can keep yourself happy. I think I’ve covered all the bases. You’ll see and experience so much more when you start school. If there’s anything I’ve learned from being at college, it’s that you grow up quickly! You’ll make some great choices and some bad ones too, but it’s all part of the journey. Learn from your mistakes and revel in the joy your achievements bring you! Take care of yourself. They say college is the best time of your life, and it really is, but sometimes it can be very stressful, and the pressure can get to you. All-nighters are all too common. Emotional break downs sometimes follow. That’s the truth. The one thing to always remember as you prepare for freshman year, throughout your time at college, and always, is that YOU ARE YOUR FIRST PRIORITY! Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy and more than anything, make sure you’re happy. If you’re happy, you’ll get so much more out of your experiences. Good luck starting the greatest time of your life! Kryshana Ananthan, The California College of the Arts. Kryshana Ananthan is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is currently studying Graphic Design and Visual Studies at The California College of the Arts.