I can’t believe you’re going to be a freshman starting tomorrow—a lanyard-wearing, large-group-walking, too-loud-talking freshman. I’m kinda worried about how college will change you, but I’m mostly hopeful that it will bring us closer—as in you’ll text me back sometimes and I won’t have to Snapchat you to get you to reply.
As you’re saying hello to college, I’m saying my final goodbye. Here are some things I’ve learned that I want to let you know so that you can do college better than me/be more prepared/maybe not do anything dangerous:
You are going to college to “play school.” Work hard because that’s what you’re there for, and also because Mom and Dad will not be overjoyed if you come back from your first year with Cs like I did (hahaha yeah…)
To help with this,
go to class. There are classes that seem eminently skippable…but those are the ones with attendance policies, so you have to go. The classes that don’t have attendance policies don’t have them because if you don’t go to class, you will fail anyway because you don’t understand anything. tl;dr: just go to class.
This class, which shall remain nameless, was my absolute least favorite class, but I never skipped. here I am on the first day, already questioning why I’m there.
Go to office hours. If you don’t understand stuff, go to office hours or the TA help room—sometimes it’s way easier to clarify things one-on-one. Even if you understand everything, you will eventually need references for internship, scholarship, and job applications. You will eventually need career advice. Your professors can’t give you any of those things if they don’t know who you are, so go to their office hours or make appointments with them.
I think this is the only picture I’ve taken with a professor at office hours, so I’m going to continue to use it to advertise for office hours…
The semesters are long, but the years are short. College feels like it’s taking forever on those late nights when you use the clock filter on your homework snaps, but when you get to the end of the semester or the year, it’s unbelievable that that much time has passed. That sounds cliché, but a friend of mine who just finished his second year told me he absolutely couldn’t believe that it was half over, and I still don’t understand how it’s all the way over for me.
Classic example of the torturous late-night snap.
On a lighter note,
don’t get too hyped about the cafeteria food. I’m not sure what your cafeteria food will be like, but I’ve never met a cafeteria food that fulfilled more than about 83% of my expectations (except maybe Scott Tradition’s chicken balls; those kind of don’t disappoint).
All the food pictures I took my freshman year. You’ll notice I pretty much stopped going to Traditions cafeterias halfway through the year when I switched to the block meal plan (#old2osu).
While we’re talking about food,
take advantage of all the free food events and free stuff events. Search the welcome week activities vigilantly to find out where the free barbeques and ice cream (and the ubiquitous pizza) are. At Ohio State, we have two big events that are essentially “free stuff” events—the Student Involvement Fair and Buck-i-Frenzy. Go to those kinds of events and grab a lot of reusable bags for me. I need some more.
Free Buck-I-Frenzy Cane’s and Skyline. *heart eyes emoji*
Don’t wear sweatpants to class. Mostly a personal preference, but you know what they say—Dress for Success. I accidentally sleep in class often enough that I don’t need to encourage myself to do it by wearing my PJs.
Make time for people. Early on freshman year, a senior told me that the best conversations happen after 2 a.m.—and she was right. The best conversations happen when you think “I should go home” or “I should go to bed,” but in the end, no extra hour of sleep lost or gained will make up for connecting with people instead.
One of those nights we sat in the common room until the wee hours talking about how eternity and infinity make us feel weird.
Since we’re talking about people,
make forever friends. It’s super hard to tell who you’re going to choose to room with two years from now and who’s going to disappear from your life after this class is over, but invest in people. Get to know their stories—their background, their passions, what their family is like, what influences the way they think and act. Not only does that help you figure out whether you want to be/should be friends with this person, it helps you make relationships that go beyond “we live down the hall from each other and went to dinner together one time in the first week so we feel like we kind of know each other but now when we awkwardly run into each other in the elevator, we pretend we don’t know each other so we don’t have to talk.”
Make friends you’d want to sing Carmen with. (pc: Brittany Sulainis/H2O Church)
Minor point, but
even though there are no seating charts in college, don’t switch seats after the first 3 class meetings. During the first class, everyone is there to get the syllabus. By the second class, people will drop or will decide they aren’t going to attend every class, so a lot more desirable seats open up and movement is expected. During the third class, movement is acceptable, but you are basically stuck in whatever seat you sit in. And by “basically stuck,” I mean I will be extremely irritated if I come in for the fourth class and you’re sitting in my seat.
Read your email. There are about three scholarships that I wouldn’t have gotten had I not read my emails and realized they existed. I may not have gone to Germany if I hadn’t learned about that internship through an email listserv. Sometimes there’s random construction that all my friends are confused about, but I know about it because I read the weekly campus email. At least glance through all your emails before you decide they’re not important.
Think through things before you do them. I am all for new experiences—the kind of thing where you say, “Maybe I’ll only do this once, but then at least I can say I’ve done it.” But when thinking about doing something or going somewhere, ask yourself if this thing could get you in trouble. Ask yourself if the people you’re going with are sketchy or if there are likely to be sketchy people where you are going. If you do not 100% trust the people you are going with and do not 100% know all the words they are using to describe what you are doing there, that is a red flag. You should probably not do the thing.Try to at least briefly think of possible dangerous scenarios that could arise from going somewhere or doing something and discern whether it is still a good idea or not. When you go somewhere, stick with the people you went with or make sure you know you are all heading back home with someone you trust. Stay aware of your surroundings. Try to come back home at a reasonable time and by a reasonable route or via a safer mode of transportation.
The Student Safety Service (dps.osu.edu/safe-ride) will drive you from wherever you are back to your dorm at night so you don’t have to walk in the dark.
I’m not going to pretend this is all going to be easy and fun. Especially coming from our small high school to a big public university, you will experience a culture shock. Do not get swept away. Grow as a person, but don’t change who you are.
It will take time to adjust to the fact that people have different values and worldviews than you do and that they are completely happy with living their lives that way. You will meet people who are coming from places that sadden you and will watch people move toward futures that sadden you.My advice is to find people who are saddened by the same brokennesses that you are saddened by—especially older, potentially wiser people—and let them encourage you in living in a way that seeks to help rectify those brokennesses, whether it’s poverty, sin, lack of education, injustice, the way people treat themselves or others, or a million other ways the world is broken. Do not get discouraged by your first few days at school. There is always hope.
The way my four years turned out was better than I could have imagined during my rough first few days.
In conclusion, work hard, but also play hard. (Or, you know, maybe just play soft or medium-hard.) Laugh a lot. Order a lot of midnight-snack pizzas (or for you, probably midnight-snack breadsticks). Maintain a 4.0 if at all possible. Make a lot of friends. Make a lot of memories. Don’t go crazy. Don’t go broke.
And please, try to text me once in a while.