Making the Most of Your College Experience

The fear of the unknown begins to set in once you realize you’re graduating high school and starting fresh in a completely new environment. Here’s my blunt advice on making the most out of your experience at college and appreciating it. Written by Juliet Rocco

imageYou’ve been accepted, now what? It can be scary to think about starting with a clean slate and being surrounded by thousands of people you don’t know. I moved 300 miles away and didn’t know a soul. It was also my reach school, so I knew classes would be more rigorous. Going away to college was one of the scariest, yet best life decisions I’ve made.

Here’s my honest advice for you:

Get involved: From the very start, I made sure I got involved in clubs on campus. Moving past my introverted personality was the biggest challenge because I had always been quiet in high school and never really voiced an opinion. Once I got to college, everything changed. I was living on a co-ed floor with over 60 other kids who were mostly business majors like myself. This made it incredibly easy for me to meet people and make friends.

Fraternities and sororities are also great for you if you like a structured group dynamic and are already very social. Intramural sports teams help you stay active in continuing to play the sport you love. Find a club, student group, sport or any other type of  group to get involved and meet lots of awesome people.

It’s OK to be homesick: The first three months was the longest period of time I was ever away from home and it was definitely an adjustment for both my parents and I, as well as my best friends back home. The great thing is everyone is connected through social media, Skype, and texting. Use it to keep in touch, but focus on making close friends freshman year so that you also have people to hang out with plus options of who you want to live with the following year.

You’re going to gain weight: Let me tell you something, gaining weight freshman year is no joke. I’ve been petite my entire life, but in just three weeks, I gained seven pounds! This was from all the carbo-loading cafeteria food and comforting myself with as much dessert as possible. Thankfully, I was able to shed the pounds off quickly once I realized those eating habits were not healthy.

Grades, GPA and classes: It’s not the end of the world if you get a bad grade or have to withdraw from a class in your first or second semester. Consider this year an adjustment period and the classes are probably going to require more effort than high school if you were not taking a lot of AP or honors classes. It’s important to stay on track and talk to your advisors if you feel like you’re falling behind and don’t feel confident in classes. There’s a lot of academic support available.

Changing your major is normal: In my case, I knew what I wanted to major in by senior year of high school and was very happy with my decision. A lot of other people switched within the first year or two though because they realized they weren’t happy. It’s better to change your major now, then push through school graduating with a degree you didn’t want and a job you hate. Think of it as protecting your happiness in the long-run.

Takeaway: College is a period of major growth and gaining independence. This is your crash course into adulthood. You’re 18 years old and have the rest of your life to figure out what you want to do. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, just work hard and have fun.

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