Letter to a college freshman.

Don't be this guy.

Dear incoming freshman (or lady),

Your life is just beginning. Or so you think. In fact, it hasn’t even started. Despite what the speaker at your high school graduation may have said, college may be a new beginning, but it’s not the start of a whole new life. If you’re like me, you’ll meet new people, but eventually, you’ll befriend those most like you and that’s quite okay. These people will be the ones you never forget. However, before you come to campus, whether it is close to home or across the country, there’s a few things you might want to consider.

You’ll more than likely get homesick. It won’t be the gut-wrenching kind experienced by those stranded at summer camp, but more of a lonliness. You probably won’t know many people and to make matters worse, your roommate will probably stare at you. That’s fine, too. You might find that this strange person will become one of your best friends. The illness will pass and you’ll find others just like you that are feeling the same things.

Second, stay on campus during the weekends. Though the desire to go home every weekend may be tempting, it’s truly enjoyable to be on campus when everybody else has deserted. The lines in the cafeteria aren’t as long, excellent parking spaces abound, and it’s quiet. Did I mention Saturday afternoon naps or a quiet library for studying? Going home is not something to be avoided, but the benefits abound in regards to staying on campus during the weekend. You’ll appreciate it later.

In addition, please go to class. It’s why you’re at college in the first place. It’s not a place to socialize or even party. In fact, you’ll find that socializing and responsible partying can be part of going to class. I’ve attended many “study parties” where we not only got stuff done, but we actually socialized and had great fun. One of my favorite memories includes drawing and coloring posters for a a Medieval “mummers’ play” my junior year. It was for a class, but we got our fill of social interaction for the evening. In short, just go to class.

Lastly, cut yourself some slack. You’re not perfect and you never will be. As a perfectionist, I spend quite a bit of time wondering what I can do better. Don’t dwell on your shortcomings in the classroom, out on the field, or even in your job. Just do your best, and even though I cringe at those words, just do it. Sometimes it’s all you have to give.

I’ve been around the collegiate block about three times, and I’m rounding the corner for the fourth and final lap. No, I don’t know everything, but as one who is still in the learning process (and as a pre-service teacher), I like to share what I’ve learned. It’s what makes the world go ’round. So get out there, have responsible fun, learn something, and use your talent for the good of others.

Most sincerely,

Sarah

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