You can survive, and thrive, at college

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Every high school student almost always gets the question “Are you planning on going to college?” People can make you plan your future as much as they want. You can plan If you’re going to college, where you’ll go and what you’ll major in. People even plan financial aid and line up a job in your college town. What they don’t help you plan? What you will be doing once you actually get to college. How to survive and thrive as a college student takes more thought than what comes to mind when asked “Are you planning on going to college?” Here are my top three pieces of advice for incoming college freshman.

My first piece of advice for any incoming college freshman is a very simple one, breathe! Things don’t always go as planned. with many things in college life, ranging from not liking dorm life, to stressing over how you’re going to afford your text books, and a variety of other issues. The best thing you can do when you get stressed and overwhelmed with college life is to stop, breathe and then move on. Sometimes things get really hard, but you can get through it. You can find a way to solve your problem. The important thing to remember is that every college student feels overwhelmed on a regular basis. It’s a part of the growth and learning process that we experience on our “baptism by fire” adulthood journey. It is okay to feel overwhelmed, upset, and even lost. I remember my freshman meltdown, sitting outside my dorm in the rain, tears rolling down my face, feeling lost and alone. All of my surroundings and people who always watched over me were now nowhere around, and I felt like I had no one. Obviously I had the friends I had made on campus at that point, which was great, but it was nothing compared to a parent’s embrace. The people who you knew cared whether you ate or not, whether or not you were sick, or even if you were dead or alive, were nowhere to be found. But I have good news, that too shall pass.

My next piece of advice is to get involved. Getting involved with a group, whether it is a church group, video game club, sports, or the band, everyone should have a group they can identify with and rely on. Being involved helps establish your sense of identity on your campus and makes you feel a part of your college community. I could not imagine going through my freshman year of college without my fellow band members, and even my band director. I made so many new friends not only in the band, but around campus at evens related to the band. I didn’t realize how much this meant to me until the beginning of my second semester when all my classes, friends, and classmates had all changed, but at the end of the day I still knew the group of supportive friends I was going to see at 3:30 p.m. in Fine Arts 300. I knew they would know and care if I didn’t show up, and would care if something was wrong. Believe it or not, that will mean a lot.

My last piece of advice is to always search for your text books online BEFORE going to your colleges book store! My freshman year I made the mistake of just taking my class schedule to the bookstore and trusting the nice helper to give me the best deals on the right books. My second semester I did searching online and was absolutely appalled at the hundreds of dollars I could have saved by ordering them from Chegg or Amazon instead of going to the bookstore. This might seem like a simple task, but it will save you hundreds of dollars every semester just by searching online first! With that being said, I will tell you that the best deal isn’t always online. While a good percentage of the time online is way cheaper, sometimes your book store pulls through and has a better or equal deal. Just be aware of every dollar you spend at the beginning of each semester on books and supplies!

Your college experience is what you make it. If you follow this advice and breathe, get involved, and search around online for your books first, it will make it that much better. I am glad my freshman year and “transition phase” of college is over. However, I wouldn’t trade the lessons I had to learn for anything. This experience will be hard, yet oddly wonderful at the same time. The things you learn in your first year that aren’t in the text books are the ones you will remember the most.