Starting College 101

6/13/2016 8:51 AM

I can remember my high school days as if they happened yesterday. I remember waking up early to catch the bus, rushing through the crowded hallways to get to class, the stress of schoolwork, being involved in various clubs, applying to colleges, senior prom, and many other things. They say that high school is the best four years of your life, and everyone either agrees or disagrees with that statement. Personally, I believe high school is just the beginning.

In high school, I was beginning to discover who I was and what I wanted to do. When it came to applying for colleges, I never considered what would be a "safety school" or a "reach school" for me. I applied to where I was able to imagine myself waking up every day, going to classes, hanging out with friends, a place where I felt safe and happy. While I was excited about my decision to attend Centenary College (now University!) in 2013, I was also terrified. I talked to so many college students, asked so many questions on what their experience was like. I was expecting someone to tell me exactly what my college experience was going to be like. Eventually, I learned that nobody could, because it was up to me to decide what my four years were going to be like.

Here are five tips that I would like to give to anyone who is about to start their first year:

Make a Facebook Group to Keep in Touch with High School Friends

It's difficult to say if you will stay close with your friends from high school or not. Thankfully, we have social media on our side, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Snapchat to post what is going on in our daily lives, as well as to keep in touch. My friends and I decided to create a private group on Facebook, where we could communicate with each other and post about how we are doing in college. In this group, we would also create events such as meeting up at a restaurant for dinner, a sleepover, a movie night, anything we wanted to do together when we were home for break. For me, these events we planned were also motivation for me to finish the semester so I could go home, relax, and enjoy my time with those I love.

I cannot think of a better feeling than waiting to see your friends after a long period of time. It's amazing to be able to reconnect, catch up, and even create new and unforgettable memories. Another fun event I recommend planning with your friends is to make a date to visit each others' schools. Sure, it's fun to see how someone is doing via social media, but being able to be there and experience it yourself is even better. Heck, plan to have your college friends meet your high school friends! This way, you won't feel like you live in two different worlds. This could be a way to be able to connect the two together.

Do Not Go Home the First Weekend

From personal experience, this was extremely difficult for me. I'm a homebody, meaning I am extremely close with my friends and family. While I was excited to go, I hated the thought of being away from everyone. I wished more than anything that I could share special moments that I experienced in college with them. One big thing to stress is, if you feel like you are the only one who gets homesick, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Every freshman is in the same boat as you. If you can find AT THE VERY LEAST one friend to connect with and talk to whenever you are feeling down, I am telling you that you will go far and you will be okay. It's better to have a few, close, quality friends that lift you up and support you than have A LOT of friends that you don't feel connected to at all. Basically, my tip here is to choose quality over quantity. If you get a vibe from someone that this a person you can trust, then go with your gut and connect with them!

Besides making connections, if there is an event going on at your campus the first weekend, I HIGHLY suggest you go to that event. This way, you will get your name and face out there to not only the other freshmen, but to the upperclassmen and staff as well. Personally, I went to just about every event on campus, from movie nights to laser tag to a drag show, you name it! I went to be a social butterfly. I've found that everyone likes to be social with each other, whether it's talking about the weather to something that happened on campus to classes to pretty much any topic under the sun. Heck, you may even make a new, close friend at an event! Anything really is possible! Once you make more friends, you may not feel so alone.

It's hard, and for those of you who are like me and get homesick, I feel for you IMMENSELY! The first weekend is rough, but you need to give it a chance and time to adjust to your new surroundings. Remember, you are not PERMANENTLY moved away from home, just TEMPORARILY. Look up at the sky, and remind yourself that no matter how far away you may be, you are all under the same sky! The distance may not feel so far then!

Communicate with your Roommate on EVERYTHING

I'm sure one of the biggest adjustments to college is having a roommate, which means living and breathing, basically sharing the same space together. Some roommates get along well, others don't. I cannot tell you if you will or will not have a great roommate experience, but there are tips that I can offer to help keep a relationship as positive and healthy as possible.

The number one thing I would like to stress is COMMUNICATION. Don't like having the lights on when you are sleeping? Talk about it. Don't like loud music? Talk about it. Don't like having a messy room? TALK ABOUT IT.

Are you catching the drift?

Whatever bothers you, you should not feel scared to approach your roommate in a calm, mature manner and express your issues. If you can't come to a clear solution, try to compromise. Maybe have a "lights-out" time, or have a certain time frame where the loud music can and cannot be played. Whatever the case may be, talk it over IMMEDIATELY before it gets bottled up and turns into a fight.

Along the lines of communication, set the boundaries STRAIGHT and EARLY. If you say something straight to the point, it should be clear and easy to understand on both ends. If you say something early, then there shouldn't be any surprises that come up.

Rooming with your best friend can be a lot of fun. You can bond over movie nights, sharing the same classes, going out to parties, anything. While it is sad that some roommate relationships don't work out, on the flip side, overcoming your problems may make your relationship even stronger.

Be Open and Honest with your Parents

So besides needing to communicate with your roommate, you also need to be in touch with your parents. While you may be having a hard time adjusting yourself, remember that this is also a hard change on your parents too. Your parents raised you, from the day you were born 'til now, teaching you everything they know in hopes that you will have a successful life. They have seen you in your best and worst times. When you move away, it may be hard for them to let you go. It may be hard for them to accept the fact that you are becoming an adult and need to be away from home so that you have the opportunities to explore and grow.

Regardless, your parents are your parents, and you should AT THE VERY LEAST update them on what is going on in your life. They have the right to know just as much as your friends do. And, just like your friends, your parents are the best support system you can have.

Be Bold. Be Daring. TRY SOMETHING NEW!

This may be even more of a stretch for people, but I am telling you THIS WILL MAKE YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE SO MUCH MORE MEMORABLE! When I was in high school, I never joined a sports team. I got involved in various clubs, but never sports. I would run and workout on my own time. Coming into college, I decided to try Cross Country, and I have been LOVING EVERY MOMENT OF IT!

How did I get on the team? The first step was an email sent to the coach showing my interest! I took ACTION! There are so many opportunities college can present to you, but nothing is ever handed down on a silver platter. It's up to you, that's right, YOU, to take the initiative to put yourself out there and get involved. It may seem scary at first, but trust me, IT IS WORTH IT. All of your experiences will make for an interesting story to tell in the future!

THIS IS YOUR TIME! College goes by quicker than you may think. When I first moved in, I thought the time was going to take forever! Now, I can't believe that I am about to enter my senior year. Time is so precious, and what you do with it is what will make or break your college experience. The four most amazing, challenging, scary, exciting years are head of you: make it count.

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