You are just over a month into your first semester of college. I bet it’s going well. I bet you’re homesick sometimes, but there are other times when you have ignored four (going on five) calls from home because you’re just having too much fun to stop. I bet you’re figuring out who you like and where the best study nooks are and what food to avoid in the dining hall. I bet you think it’ll stay like this forever.
I bet that’s all true because that’s how it was for me. That’s how it was for me three years ago. I just wanted to take a little time to write you a letter and impart my infinite wisdom, or whatever I gained from the past three years, on you.
First and foremost, you are not already sick of the cafeteria. I hear you complaining about it. You have a couple more years on it, so strap in. If nothing else, head for the sandwich line.
Get off Facebook (unless you’re talking to friends from home). All that it is doing is showing you what people want you to see. You’re wasting your time staring at a screen developing FOMO and wondering why you’re not having as much fun as the people in your newsfeed. Yes, talk to your friends from home on Facebook chat, check the likealittle page for your name, look to buy something on the black market. No, don’t spend your nights looking for a party or an event or wondering why so-and-so is in that picture when she said she was studying with whats-her-face. Get your butt up and go out.
Write things down. Dates, quotes, the weather. Write it on paper, in blog form, notes in your iPhone, or post-its in a box. You’re going to want to remember a lot of this.
Do favors and be nice. It sounds obvious, but it will come back so many times. You have no idea who you are helping out when you just ask people to hang out or drive them to the airport. You also have no idea when you will need these people in the coming years.
If you’re not already involved, do it. I can’t stress this enough. By the time senior year rolls around you’ll have made your way to several leadership positions. These positions will translate nicely to happy little bullet points on your resume and into vital connections that will be valuable resources in life. That’s a damn good reason to invest one night a week to a club, if you ask me.
Don’t burn bridges. You have no idea how bad that will come back and bite you in the ass.
Never stop putting yourself out there. Enter the contest, try out for the team, ask the girl (or guy) out, jump off the cliff. Go out with your friends even if you have an 8am class (and go to the class). Since I can’t say it better than this quote from Tom Petty I’m just going to end with this and we can all bask in its cheesiness…
“You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ’til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does.”