Going away to college for the first time is an exciting venture which, for many, marks the beginning of a new chapter of their lives. While thrilling, it can also be a bit overwhelming to ‘move away’ and truly be on your own for what may be the first time.
For me, entering college felt like the culmination of so many of my efforts and dreams over eighteen years of life. In many ways, this proved to be true. My four years of undergraduate studies at my liberal arts college were some of the best and most challenging of my life. It was during these years that I met my now husband, formed friendships that remain an integral part of my life, and where I learned what was important to me, what I valued, and gained the courage and confidence to become who I am today.
For all the freshmen entering their college careers this fall, know that your college experience will likely be wonderful and difficult, formative and uncertain, and challenging and rewarding. Just like any other part of life, there will be both hills and valleys during your time in college.
Hold your head high and know that you’ve got this! In case of any doubts, here are a few tips from those who once stood in your same shoes:
The Experience Is What You Make It
I believe this to be true of many parts of life, but especially in a college setting. There are many factors that may be out of your control, from who your University pairs you to room with to what expectations your professors have. But if there was ever a time to learn to roll with the punches, it’s definitely now! The best way to level the playing field in situations out of your control is to take hold of what is within your control—your own response to these situations. If you resolve to remain positive and work hard, you’ll be amazed by how much smaller the obstacles may feel.
Try Something New, But Stay True To Yourself
There is perhaps no better time than college to explore your interests more deeply and to give something new a try! Most University campuses offer hundreds of clubs, groups, or extracurricular activities that cater to a variety of interests and abilities. College is the time in your life when “I’m not sure” will almost always serve as an opportunity to learn and grow in new ways and expand your understanding of the world around you.
Take each opportunity you can, but also know that doing so does not have to include compromising the value system you hold to be true. Being open-minded to new things but strongly grounded in yourself is a great way to approach this exploration. Mizzou Alum, Reagan, shares, “Going to college is such an exciting but terrifying experience, being out on your own for the first time and finally truly independent Always stay true to yourself. Never forget where you came from and hold tight to the values you were raised with. Oh, and don’t forget to call your mom!” Lindenwood Alum Jackie reminds, “Trust your gut. College is the best time to pursue what you’re passionate about…don’t try to keep pace with anyone else.”
Keep Self-Care As A Priority
It can be easy to get caught up in the busyness that is University life. But as always, the care and well-being of your own health, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, should absolutely remain a priority.
Forming healthy habits and healthy relationships can both enrich your college experience and set you up for future success beyond campus life. Lindenwood alum Valerie advises “Don’t lose sight of who you are and who you are striving to be. Find healthy activities that make you feel good and feel like you.”
Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out For Support
Lastly, know that wherever you are and whatever you find yourself facing during these next formative years of your life, it is okay (and will sometimes be necessary) to reach out for support. Whether its handling a difficult class workload or facing a crisis situation such as an unplanned pregnancy, remember that community and support is a needed part of any stage of life.
Above all, enjoy these years and rest assured in the knowledge that you are capable and worthy of great things!