Hello, wonderful people! Long time no see!
If you couldn’t tell by the title, today’s blog is going to be a little different. Instead of talking about hair and makeup, I’m going to dive into my personal experiences for a bit when it comes to college.
For lack of a better description, college is a big adjustment. Not only does your life and routine change drastically, but you will change as well.
Don’t be afraid of the change college brings upon you. Embrace it. Accept and cherish everyone and everything that crosses your path as a college student because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
As my Freshman year of college comes to an end, I’ve had so much time to really reflect on who I’ve become this past year, and I want to share what I’ve learned with you all, especially those who will be incoming college Freshman this fall.
I want to cover as much as possible, so I divided this blog into three sections:
1. My Background
2. My First Year Experiences & Life Lessons
3. Who I Am Now
Before I start, I want to make it clear that everything stated in this blog is my opinion based off my personal experiences as a former college Freshman. You don’t have to take every piece of advice to heart.
You do you.
This post is nothing more than a glimpse into my first year of college and some of the choices I made during the best time of my life.
Thank you for reading 🙂
1. My Background
Because I want this blog to be as insightful, I’m going to be honest. So with that being said, I’m going to say this: I didn’t enjoy the daily pattern of high school.
It’s okay to have adverse thoughts about high school. Personally, I’m a creature of change. I love switching things up whenever I can. High school was just way too repetitious for me. I wasn’t a fan of having to stick to the same routine day after day.
I guess I’ve always been curious as to what lie beyond my small town, passed the farms and fields. I mean, there’s this big world out there just waiting for us to go out an explore. I wanted to see and experience it all. I was ready to embrace whatever was thrown my way.
From the start of my Senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to attend Central Michigan University. My dad graduated from CMU in the early 90s, and I was interested in their Integrative Public Relations program…. plus, it was the only university/college I took a campus tour of. CMU was somewhat familiar, a Division One school for sports and home to over 20,000 students. It seemed like the perfect fit, but I had my fair share of doubts.
I wasn’t entirely sure if CMU was really meant to be “my place.” I was excited to get away and experience something new, but a part of me wondered if CMU would be a match. Despite my uncertainties, I kept telling myself the same thing over and over again: college is what you make of it.
I knew that if I wanted to have a kick-ass college experience, I needed to make it happen myself.
I couldn’t sit back and keep to myself anymore.
I couldn’t just sit there and wait for something big to happen.
I knew that if I wanted to have a good time, I needed to put myself out there.
If you know me well, there’s a good chance that you know I hate country music with a passion. However, the song “Wide Open Spaces” by the Dixie Chicks became my college mantra in the weeks leading up to move-in day (if you’ve never heard the song, I strongly encourage you to click the link here and give it a listen).
The song lyrics coincide with the idea of possibilities that have yet to be found while mentioning the “high stakes” associated with moving away and starting over.
Moving away from everything you’ve ever known is tough. It’s hard leaving familiar places and faces behind, but sometimes it’s important to recognize that amazing things await the moment you leave your comfort zone.
So in the weeks leading up to move-in day, I made it a point to head to CMU with an open mind and a positive attitude. By doing so, it made me realize anything was possible if I was willing to put in the effort.
2. My First Year Experiences and Life Lessons
Dorms & Roommates
I knew right off the bat that I wanted to go in blind in terms of roommates. Although it wasn’t required that I stay on campus, I knew the dorms would be a great place to meet people (plus, I didn’t want to drive a total of 2 hours every day from my hometown to campus).
I got incredibly lucky when it comes to roommates. The four of us went from strangers with some information on each other via peeping on social media to best friends by the end of the semester.
I cannot even begin to describe how thankful I am for Hope, Ariana and Elyssa and the memories we made while trying to navigate Freshman year. These girls have had my back through it all, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Going in blind was seriously the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, and I encourage everyone to do so.
Living with unfamiliar people will make you grow as an individual. You’ll be more apt to get to know your roommates and, in turn, people you see in classes, clubs and other dorm residents.
Rooming with strangers will open up your world. You’ll get to meet some of their friends and people they’re familiar with and vice versa. A huge part of the college experience is meeting new people, and going in blind is the perfect way to do so.
When it comes to roommates, there’s one golden rule everyone should follow. While my roommates and I had a different golden rule (thou shalt not drink till one throws up), there’s an unspoken rule that should come as a given: be respectful.
Not everyone is exactly like you. Everyone has a different set of beliefs, values, lifestyle preferences, etc. No matter what, be kind and respect your roommates. If you can follow that simple rule, you’ll run into very few problems.
Making Friends and Meeting People
Immediately after move-in day, I kept one simple phrase in mind: put yourself out there.
I’ll admit, sometimes it’s easier said than done.
For 18 years I tended to keep quiet in classrooms full of chatter. I was the kind of person who preferred to stand on the sidelines at sporting events and take pictures for the yearbook rather than socialize in the bleachers.
The person I was in high school was far from the person I sought to be in college. All I ever wanted to be was a social butterfly. I loved the idea of going out on the weekends with friends while meeting new people.
But in the weeks leading up to move-in day, I found myself conflicted with who I was in high school and who I wanted to be in college. I was convinced my past was going to follow me everywhere. I didn’t talk much in high school and I never partied back then, so for awhile I firmly believed that this would hinder my hopes of becoming the person I always wanted to be.
I don’t exactly know when, but one day I finally came to the realization that my past disposition and experiences (or lack of) didn’t matter anymore.
It was all up to me. My college experience depended on my choices, and so I decided to put myself out there.
Life’s way too short to sit back and wonder “what if?”
I knew I would regret sitting back and waiting for someone to come and approach me.
Life’s all about choices. Some decisions are incredibly easy, others not so much.
It would have been an easy choice for me to stand on the sidelines like I had been doing all my life. I was comfortable being on the sidelines, but I couldn’t deny how unhappy I was. Instead, I chose to take a route completely outside of my comfort zone, and it’s made all the difference.
The amount of incredible people I’ve met during my Freshman year is insane. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of love I have for every single person I’ve met at CMU. I’m so thankful to call these beautiful people my friends, and I’m beyond blessed with the amazing memories associated with each and everyone one of them.
A big part of life is meeting new people, so I encourage you all to put yourselves out there and meet new people while you’re on campus.
Speak up and smile. Don’t be afraid to talk to people however that may be – upfront, a casual compliment at a party, a DM on social media (I’ll admit it, I’ve done it).
There’s so many ways to meet people on campus, you just need to put in the effort.
Join on-campus clubs and organizations that apply to your major or personal interests. By doing so, you’ll meet people who share common interests as you, and that’s always a great foundation to build a friendship on.
An easy way to get people to stop in and say hi is by propping your dorm door open. An open door is a tell-tale sign that you’re approachable and friendly. People passing by will be apt to say hey as they pass by; sometimes they’ll even stop and introduce themselves.
You never know who you’re going to meet. The friendly girl sitting next to you in class may turn out to be your best friend. That cute guy you’ve been eyeing at a party all night may be a potential significant other.
Put yourself out there because in the end, we regret the chances we didn’t take.
It’s a cheesy phrase, but an easy mantra to live by when trying to balance college classes and a social life: work hard, play hard.
While my first semester at CMU went pretty smooth, I found myself lagging during the second semester.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the world outside of the classroom. There were nights where I’d stay up until 3 a.m. when I’d have a 9 a.m. class the next morning, and I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to skip class but couldn’t because I had already used up the two or three unexcused absences allotted for the class.
Skipping class is the most tempting thing you’ll encounter on a daily basis, but it’s all about discipline… and I’ll be honest I did not have very much self-discipline during my second semester of college.
One of the cool things about college is that most professors give you points that’ll go towards your overall grade in the class just for showing up. Essentially, showing up to class will get you easy participation points in addition to benefiting you in the long run when it comes to retaining the material presented in class.
If you’ve never skipped a college class, I’m impressed. Like seriously good for you! But the truth is, most of you will end up missing a class here and there.
To ensure you don’t miss out on anything important, exchange contact information (your phone number, Snapchat username, Instagram handle, whatever) with someone you sit by regularly in class. This is an easy way to get caught up on lecture notes, important dates to remember, etc. if you ever miss a class. However, don’t constantly rely on the people you sit next to in class. No one likes a moocher.
There’s one unwritten rule when it comes to classes: don’t take someone else’s spot.
It’s a very weird unspoken rule, but let me explain.
During the first week of class, you’ll gravitate towards some specific area of the classroom or lecture hall before finally settling on a certain seat. Don’t randomly steal someone else’s spot five weeks into class. They’ll probably hate you all day and hold a grudge against you for the rest of the semester.
As long as you show up to class, sit in your usual spot and put in effort, you’ll do just fine.
You have so much free time.
I honestly couldn’t believe how much free time I had during the first month of college, before I started getting involved on campus.
College classes only take up a fraction of the day, so the rest of your time can be spent doing whatever you want to do.
There is more to a social life then just going out on the weekends. While partying does play a big factor, your social life also depends on how you spend your time outside the classroom.
Because I knew I wanted to major in public relations, I got involved with PRSSA, a club that provides resources and knowledge for public relations majors like myself. I dedicated about an hour per week to PRSSA while I got the opportunity to grow as a future public relations professional while meeting so many amazing people through this on-campus organization.
A few weeks into my first semester, I learned that the student newspaper on campus was looking to hire new members for every department, including public relations. I wanted the position so bad. I was terribly nervous for the interview, but by some miracle I was given a chance, and I was hired onto the team. Working for the student newspaper has given me so much real-world experience, and I was fortunate enough to meet so many incredibly talented people that I spend time with both in the office and out on the weekends.
Since you’re given so much free time, it’s up to you on how you spend that time. Scheduling out what needs to be done throughout the week while planning time for on-campus clubs, study sessions and other school-based activities can be tiring during the weekday. Obviously some weeks will be easier, some harder, but it’s safe to say that college can bring on a lot of stress.
College is stressful, and that’s why a majority of college students like to let loose on the weekends.
Before coming to college, I had only ever been to one party and I had never drank a sip of alcohol in my entire life. I really didn’t know much about college parties, or parties in general. I loved the idea of going out on the weekends with friends, but I didn’t know if I was made for it considering I was never really invited out.
Well, things change.
I went from staying in every single weekend in high school to going out almost every Friday and Saturday night with friends. And while I loved going out weekends, I quickly realized that I was pretty naive about most things.
Bad things don’t happen where I’m from. I grew up in an extremely safe and trusting community. Back home, I was able to trust everyone because I had known them for so long. But because I grew up in a little bubble, it was easy to forget that bad things do happen.
Two of my roommates came from a high school that had a graduating class of well over 1,000 students whereas my entire high school student body was a little over 300 students.
My roommates are lucky enough to have little b.s. detectors. They can tell right off the bat if someone’s shady or not. I, on the other hand, trust everyone. Because I grew up in such a safe community, I think everyone I meet is 100% nice and genuine. While it’s good to keep an open mind about new people, being naive can be a huge problem.
Fortunately, my friends at CMU have my back and keep an eye on me. They hold my hand at huge parties to keep us from getting lost as we make our way through the crowd. They keep an eye on my from across the room when I’m chatting it up with someone new.
It’s okay to go out on the weekends and let loose, but be safe.
Arrive at parties with friends you trust, friends that will look out for you. Make sure that you leave with those friends! Don’t leave anyone behind, and don’t stick around for a few more hours alone.
Not only should you go out with friends that have your back, but watch out for yourself too. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the fun, but just remember to keep your eyes open.
College is all about having fun while you work towards your future. It’s a part of your life where you’ll meet so many wonderful people, make an abundance of memories and a time to discover who you really are.
Just remember to never forget who you are.
3. Who I Am Now
Change isn’t a bad thing; it’s something that should be celebrated because it’s a sign you’re growing as an individual.
CMU has changed me in more ways then I ever thought possible, and for that I’m grateful. Moving away from everything I’ve ever known was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. Living in a world of unfamiliarity for a year allowed me to grow into the person I’ve always hoped to become.
I haven’t forgotten my roots.
It’s beyond entertaining seeing the reactions on people’s faces when I tell them I grew up in a small town with only one blinking red light. And despite my hatred for country music, I still love driving down the back roads while listening to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
But at this point in my life, I’ve never been more ready to go out and experience something new.
Moving back home was rough. It was hard leaving my roommates and the friends I made over the course of the year. Going from weekends filled with parties and random adventures to sitting at home on Saturday nights watching Lifetime movies has been a huge adjustment for me. I miss my life as a Chippewa.
However, it only makes me more excited for my Sophomore year to begin. There’s so many memories that have yet to be made and so many people I have yet to meet, and I can’t wait for all these opportunities and people to cross my path.
Your Freshman year is filled with so many new experiences, and I encourage every future college Freshman to take chances and keep your mind open to endless possibilities.
Again, this blog isn’t meant to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do in college. Everyone needs to make their own choices in order to grow into the person you’re supposed to become.
No one told me to put myself out there. I chose to get out there and get involved because I knew it’s what I needed to do in order to grow as an individual.
In the end, college is what you make of it.
And I encourage you all to make it worth while. You only get one shot, so make it count.