Forgive me if I use the word “freshmen” or “freshman” incorrectly anywhere in this post. In Canada, we just say “first years”. (Don’t make fun of us – we can’t buy Cinnamon Teddy Grahams here. Don’t get the joke? Follow me on Twitter.) Anyway, you might remember that I’m headed to business school in September…and by that I mean that I studied Philosophy and Psychology for two years, and now I’m going into one of the most competitive business schools in Canada. Sounds like a great plan, right?
Guys, I’m effing scared.
I feel the same as I did the summer before I started first year. I’m convinced that my marks are going to drop by 10% and that I will suddenly forget everything that I have ever learned. I mean everything. As if I’m going to wake up one morning and not remember how to type or speak or walk or think, all because I’m going to university. So here. Here is my advice to freshmen, and everyone who happens to be starting in a new program or at a new school in September.
Dear Fearful Freshmen,
Calm down. Just breathe for a minute. Check you out, getting older, striving for higher education, pushing your way through life like a boss. Are you nervous? You’re probably a little too nervous. Put down the coffee – save it for later.
Your grades are probably going to drop, but they won’t drop as dramatically as you might think. You will hear stories about how some people went from having 90% averages in high school to having 50% averages in college. Yes, this happens. No, these results are not typical. Your grades will not drop just because you’re going to college. They will drop, however, if you skip class and refuse to study. Remember, there are a lot of people with 80%+ averages. Haul your ass to class. Do your damn homework. Study. Sleep. You could be one of those people.
It doesn’t matter how early you usually wake up – you will not make it to your 8 am class. This is not up for debate.
You will make friends, unless you really don’t want to make friends, in which case you probably won’t make friends. Either way, it works out in your favor. You might not meet a lot of people, especially if you’re introverted like I am, but you certainly won’t be alone either. Slow and steady. Quality over quantity.
Be careful who you trust with your secrets. This isn’t high school anymore. Your peers don’t know about your past, and they don’t have to if you don’t want them to. Whatever “poor life decisions” you’re hiding can easily stay hidden. People around campus only know what you tell them.
Speaking of poor life decisions, you might make a few. Many are reversible, but some are not. Choose wisely.
My biggest piece of advice? Don’t take your freshman year to “find yourself”. Know who you are, what you want, and how to get it. Have a damn opinion and stick by it. College is about independence. It’s about becoming the adult that you’re going to be, and we don’t do that by doing what other people expect us to do. I don’t mean that you have to have a career picked out. What I mean is that if you don’t like parties, don’t go to parties. If you don’t like to read, don’t read (er, and find a program that doesn’t require a lot of reading). Life works itself out in mysterious ways, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to do exactly what you want to do. You’ll figure it out.
I should probably note here that this letter is purely from my experience, so take this advice at your own risk.
Here, have a hug.
Fellow Fearful Student
Where are you headed in September?
Image courtesy of LifeSupercharger via Flickr (CC-BY-2.0).