Today is the first day of classes for my Alma Mater, Murray State University. And I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about things that might’ve been helpful to know my freshman year of college.
While I might not have known these things immediately entering my freshman year, maybe my experiences can help others become accustomed to college.
Let’s get started, shall we?
- It’s okay to be overwhelmed because there are a lot of options. There are a whole heck of a lot of options for a whole heck of a lot of things. Classes. Majors. Minors. Internships. Jobs. Organizations. Greek Life (if that’s your thing). Possible friends and/or mentors. And not everything or everyone is going to be for you. But there are going to be certain people and organizations that are going to be a great fit for you.
- Yes, there are a lot of people you can become friends with, but don’t rush it. I didn’t meet my best friends the moment I walked onto campus on move-in day. I did get lucky in meeting one of my best friends the day before classes started. But it wasn’t rushed. It wasn’t forced. It happened by chance. I had a group of people I hung out with my freshman year (and maybe sophomore year) that I met because of a chance encounter. And most of the people that I would later hang out with and hold in a special place in my heart would come later when I started spending time with a certain organization (Newman). The point is: don’t try to force or rush a friendship. My best friends came from either a chance encounter or just generally took time to become my friends. And I value how we became friends and why we’ve stuck together over the years. And I hope you can have the same kind of stories, memories, and (most importantly) friendships.
- Get involved in organizations on or around campus, but don’t stretch yourself too thin. As I said before, there are a lot of options on campus for organizations that you can become involved in while at college. And there’s bound to be a perfect (or near perfect) fit for you. And you may find more than one group that’s a great fit for you. Example: you can be on a sports team while also involved in a religious organization. You can be a member of a major-related group while also involved with something that isn’t at all related to your major. You could be in Greek Life while playing a sport or doing something major related or being involved with a religious organization. I think you get the point. You can be involved in more than one organization or group while still getting your school work finished. But, don’t spread yourself too thin. Every organization and group is going to take time and effort. So are your academics. And your academics are the reason you’re at school in the first place. Join an organization or group that you think is a great fit. But don’t allow your academics to decline or fail.
- Be willing to try new things, but don’t stray too far from who you are. I think it’s a part of the college experience to try new things. But at camp, we had a concept that I think could apply college as well: comfort zones, stretch zones, and danger zones. We all know that a comfort zone is where we’re comfortable operating. It’s an area where we know things are safe and things are going to be okay. Stretch zones are areas where we go out of our comfort zone and grow . We learn new things and have the opportunity to expand the limits of our comfort zones. We may feel awkward in these areas, but they have the potential to help us grow in a healthy way. But then there are danger zones. These are the areas where we’ve gone beyond stretching ourselves. These are the areas that could cause us harm. Places that could cause us to shut down. Try finding something that pulls you into the stretch zone and helps you grow as a person. But make sure you recognize when you’re approaching the boundary into the danger zone. A recommendation is to remember what kind of personality you have or what kind of person you want to be. Also, keep in mind what kind of people you want to surround yourself with. It’s perfectly fine to surround yourself with people that are different than you. But don’t surround yourself with people or situations that can pull you away from or make you forget who you are and what kind of person you want to be.
- The stereotypical party scene doesn’t have to be for you. The typical college party scene may be something that certain people want to do. But it doesn’t have to be something that everyone does. In fact, I made through college without attending a single party of this sort. My interests were simply elsewhere and I don’t think my college experience suffered because of it. College and the people and organizations there offer so much more. In fact, there’s so many other things that are offered that a student can still have a great time at college without attending a party. But if attending the typical college party is your thing, go ahead. But please don’t let it do any harm to you.
I can honestly say that college was the best four years of my life up to this point in my life. In fact, sometimes I wish I could relive those days with my friends.
So if you’re in college, or will going into college soon, enjoy it. These are the times of your life. And one day, you just might miss it (and that day may not be too far away).