“The Freshman 40”

College can be a daunting experience.  There are tons of things to do, places to be and people to meet.  Sometimes, it helps to take a step back and collect yourself, to see what you really want to be.  As that may be difficult to do, here are some tokens of wisdom from 40 people just like you – people who are in college, have been through college, and have been out of it.

Meet your professors in person when you can. Go to office hours, and learn who they are as people. Often times they’re the most fascinating people you never would’ve met. And they’re an amazing reference during and after college.

Study abroad. Don’t make excuses not to.

Don’t be lazy. Freshman year is like a Gusher — you want to squeeze all that blue raspberry goo out of it. After all, it is when you will be least focused career-wise and have the most free time. There will be plenty of times when you will be tempted to waste much more time than you should, but you could be out doing something that is actually interesting and memorable.

Keep your heart open at all times to friends and relationships. You never know what’s in store.

Don’t compare yourself to other people too much. You will see geniuses, virtuosos, supermodels and I’ve-already-saved-the-world-twice go-getter types, and it will be very easy to tell yourself that you are not one of them. This is simply not true. You are on an equal level, and you must not limit yourself by comparing yourself to those who flaunt their accomplishments.

Work as hard as you can, and then push yourself beyond. Your capabilities are only limited by your perceptions.

If you’re assigned roommates, make the most of it. There aren’t many opportunities in your life when you will be matched in this way, so learn from them and learn about yourself.

Whenever you’re sad or stressed, make it your responsibility to smile. Even if studies and commitments govern your life, sacrifice some time for yourself. Hang out with your friends, watch your comfort shows, listen to your favorite music. Make happiness a priority.

There is always time for coffee and catch up with a friend.

Always do your best when doing what matters to you. Schoolwork can take a backseat if you really need to do something for you.

Sometimes it takes escaping from where you’ve lived your whole life to figure out what views are your own and what views are constructs of society. Keep your mind open to any new ways of thinking or new approaches to life. College is about learning about yourself through interacting with the people around you. Don’t let past biases cloud your views on present situations. Seek independence first, and don’t let the fear of being alone prevent you from experiencing your life.

Don’t mistake your bleach for laundry detergent — it will ruin your towels.

Choose health over wealth. In all that you do ask yourself before: Will this be healthy for my physical being, character, relationships?  We have the chance to gain notoriety and fame during the youth of our life, but there are different ways of getting there.

Talk to that cute girl in O-Chem.

Take advantage of all the free hosted programs and events on campus. There is nothing like that out in the real world.

Stock up on food from free events at every chance.

Adopt an open-door policy. It’s a great way to get to know the people you are living with. Just remember to close the door when you leave so they don’t get to know your personal belongings  instead.

Drop by Black’s Beach at night. Go at night in late August. Waves will light up from the bioluminescent bacteria. It’s best seen, not said.

Follow your heart because every day you don’t, you’ll wonder to yourself “what if.”

Don’t be afraid to try new classes because you think you won’t perform well. Take up pottery, that mythology class or that science class you’ve been eyeing. A lot of people go into college with the mentality to focus on the requirements for their majors, and while that is important, college is really a time to explore and gain knowledge about things you’ve always wanted to do and things you’ve never thought you would do.

Never turn down an invite. Netflix can never beat a social life.

Avoid buying books from the bookstore whenever you can. Use the library, buy books from other students, and see if you can find some materials online for free.

When you’re at your first college party and you don’t know anybody, you’re going to drink more than you can handle. Remember the person holding you hair back while you puke your guts out into a toilet or some bush outside. They’re going to be your best friend.

Never give a CSO a fake name when he or she catches you drunk on campus. Chances are you’re going to tell them that you’re some celebrity like Natasha Bedingfield and then not know how to spell it.

As much as you’d want to spend time with your buddies from high school, doing so will indirectly prevent a lot of people from branching out of their comfort zones.

Orange chicken from Panda Express is a lot like that ex-significant other you really need to stop sleeping with.

Go to class. Even if you hate it and it’s boring, then don’t take that class (unless you absolutely have to). Deal with it because your parents are paying a shitload of money so you can get a degree, get a job and not be homeless.

Interact with international students, and learn as much as you can about their culture. The exchange of culture and ideas will help them be more comfortable in America, and you will learn to respect other cultures even more.

Live the present, because yesterday is long gone, and tomorrow isn’t going anywhere.

When you feel like the world is ending, take a deep breath, and think about how your stress from ten years ago means nothing now, and in ten more years your current stresses will be the same.

Commit to doing one act of kindness a day.

Don’t be afraid of loneliness. You’ll face it a lot in college. Either that, or you’re going to try — in vain — to fill up the silence with mindless chatter and toxic people. Don’t do the latter.

Goody’s Burritos are to be reserved for times when you are stoned or have absolutely no other option. Avoid the guacamole.

If you walk into The Village market hugging your chest, everyone is going to know you’re not wearing a bra.

Document what you can. May it be photos, a personal journal or old copies of The Guardian, you’ll want to have a stash of memorabilia to look back on when you’re trying to remember the hundreds of things you have done in your college career. That said, do things that will be memorable.

Let’s be honest, you are probably at or quickly approaching your physical peak. Enjoy it while you can. Go to Black’s Beach.

Ask for help whenever you need and whenever you can. There’s always someone out there willing to lend a hand and to become a future friend.

When you can, make phone calls to your friend rather than texting or using an instant messenger. Hearing an old friend’s laugh can be intoxicating — in the good way.

Your major does not define you. It just defines your career options.

Be inspired and inspire others, the world awaits.

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