1. It’s okay to be alone.
In fact, a lot of times you won’t have a choice. This seems counterintuitive since most college students live just feet from their classmates on campus, but in college everyone has different schedules. Your friends will have labs at night or jobs or just simply lunch breaks different from yours. Get used to eating alone sometimes. If you’re brave, try doing it without your phone.
2. But it’s okay to not to want to be alone.
It’s good to learn to be independent and at peace with your own thoughts sometimes, but humans, even introverted ones, are social animals. Everyone needs to get out and talk to people sometimes. So…
3. Say yes to people.
Even if you feel like you have a ton of homework or are exhausted from the week, go to dinner when people ask. Attend a football game with them. Pretend you knew before moving to Indiana that basketball is a thing here. Friends start out as strangers that ask to share your Spanish textbook. Say yes and get to know the people around you.
4. Say yes to challenges.
My first semester of college ever I was coerced into taking a 400 level course for modern language majors and minors (of which I am neither) where we learned French and German at the same time in a 2 hour class that met only once a week. I tell people this and they usually ask why I didn’t drop it. Truthfully, I was a confused freshman and just didn’t think of it. However, I tell people it’s because I’m super brave and confident and like to face challenges head-on. I got an A in the class.
5. You’re probably not the best at anything…
Even if you were the best in high school, have the trophies, scholarships and accolades of every teacher you’d had since Pre-K. And if you are the best at something, being in a new environment with tons of other, better dressed people who have trophies and scholarships and fawning teachers probably makes you feel like you aren’t.
6. But that doesn’t mean you’re not good at anything.
Just because you aren’t the unanimously voted best badminton player anymore doesn’t render your skills worthless. You’re still really, really good at badminton. Someone else’s skills don’t detract from yours.
This is a simpler and less preachy way of saying “be considerate of other people because campus isn’t that big and they will remember your rude face and hate you forever.” This especially includes food service staff. June at the dining hall and Tina at Streets make my day (and my dinner!) every time I see them so the least I can do is ask them how their week is going.
8. Don’t complain all the time.
I might be an unqualified freshman, but I’m not dumb enough to think that college as a system or any particular university is perfect. What I do know is that the people who pay college tuition and only have negative things to say about their school look so dumb. I prefer to get the most out of my money by focusing on all the awesome things (like Top Dog Communication).
9. Call home.
I’m entitled to one cliché and this is it. Also, remember to tell your grandma happy birthday.
10. Be patient.
Surprise! When you get to college you still won’t have it all together. Building a flawless grownup wardrobe, deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life, and finding the perfect wise faculty member to take you under their wing all have something in common: They take time. So do yourself a favor. Breathe for a second. Order a pizza with your friends. Enjoy it while you can.