In a matter of days I'll be heading my little self back up to glorious Purdue. It's been a crazy, busy summer but I am so ready to get back on campus. I'm ready for new roommates, recruitment, classes, and friends (and college football is pretty exciting, too!). I've seen quite a few articles and blogs floating around that are giving advice to incoming freshmen about what not to miss out on.
Of course, I have my own two cents to add to the discussion. In fact, I have 6 points I'd like to mention that will be good advice to incoming freshmen and returning students alike.
6. Get Involved (In Campus Ministry)
Every. Single. Post. I've seen has mentioned getting involved, which is no-doubt important. But I let Campus Ministry involvement slip from my freshman year, and I really regret it. The atmosphere will take hold of you quickly, so get plugged in- and fast! The first month will be full of callouts and different opportunities to visit youth groups. Visit one, visit 10. Keep trying until you find something that you like. It wasn't until the end on my freshman year that I really found a place that I liked... and by then I barely had time to get involved before it was time to leave for the summer. Huge regret of my freshman year was not taking advantage of campus ministries- so get in there and get plugged in.
5. Don't Burn Bridges
There are going to be disagreements. There are going to be arguments, fights, falling outs. But the professional world can be very small and a bridge burned freshman year can and will come back to haunt you. I just talked to a few very established Pharmacists about this, both of who advised me to not burn bridges (they both brought it up without knowing the other had done so). Learning to deal with controversy in a professional way will take some time, but will certainly pay off in the long run.
4. Take Advantage of the Gym
I was afraid of the gym until second semester- true story. But I can't help but wonder how much easier it would have been to stay in shape had I sucked it up and gone in during the first month. Most schools will have "welcome week" type of deals- free fitness classes, demos, etc. that are meant to draw students the the gyms. I didn't participate in any of that, but my friends that did were able to connect with people who were interested in the same sports and workouts and ended up playing intramurals with them. Even if you don't know what you're doing, don't let the big, buff guys scare you like they did me. You'll be thanking yourself when you go to get in shape for spring break and realize you don't really have that much to do.
3. Be Vulnerable
College is scary. I get it. You're in a new place; on your own. Embrace the fact that nobody knows who you were in high school. If you get into the mindset that everyone is in your same boat, the adjustment will be so much easier. During freshman orientation week, open up to your group members and leaders. Tell them the secrets that had been burdening you- cry. Do whatever you need to do to be vulnerable, and then carry that throughout your entire year. Open up to others and you'll be surprised at how people will open up to you.
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Pretty much everything I've said has had to do with this, but I'm serious. There will be so many chances to do things that you'd never want to do, and that's okay. But suck it up and just go. I participated in some of the most ridiculous, spontaneous activities because someone asked if I wanted to go, and I said "sure." rather than stay in my comfort zone. Some things I loved, some I wouldn't choose to do again- but that's the fun of it all!
1. ... But be True to Yourself
Trying new things is fun but be honest if you don't like it. If something isn't making you happy, you're under no obligation to stick around. This goes for extracurriculars, relationships, and your major. What you do these next 4-6 years will determine the path your life will go down, at least professionally if not more. It is ultimately your life and your future on the line here, so stay in and study when you need to, go to church, and make sure that future you would thank you for what present you is doing.
Short and sweet is my advice right now... hopefully I can listen to myself this year :)