1. don’t worry so much about what other people are spending their time doing.
2. social media is a lie. it’s all fake. it might seem like your friends at other schools are having the time of their lives, but it’s so easy to pretend to be happy online when in reality you are downright miserable. so just because someone’s instagram is prettier than yours, doesn’t mean their life is any happier or better.
3. it’s absolutely okay to sit by yourself at the dining hall and have a meal alone. no one will judge you for it. no one will point at you and whisper, “there’s the girl who eats alone all the time.” i promise you that no one is looking that closely at you. the only reason they would notice is if you make it seem like you’re miserable. so go ahead, order a hamburger and a huge plate of fries, pick up a good book, and eat by yourself. i promise that no one will give a fuck.
4. if you want to sit at home and watch Netflix while eating chicken tenders in bed on a friday night, then do it. don’t feel obligated to go out and have a great time if you know that you would be happier just sitting at home. for a long time, i used to think that if i wasn’t going out with friends or studying, i was wasting my time. but that is so not true. you need your alone time, especially when you’re in college, so don’t be afraid to do the things that really make you happy – not just the things that you think will make you happy.
5. grades are important, so don’t slack off. it might seem like you’re doing more work than everyone else, but if other people are getting good grades, i promise that they’re doing just as much work as you are (no matter how many times they say “i only studied for like an hour the night before the test and i got an A!”). you’re not paying a fortune just to party and hang out with friends, so make sure you’re learning and keeping up with your schoolwork.
6. by the end of the year, you will have completely lost touch with many of your high school friends who you promised you would never stop talking to. and that’s okay.
7. make use of the library. it’s there for a reason. find a good study spot where no one can bother you, and whenever you get there, put your phone away and actually get shit done. leave the procrastinating for your dorm room.
8. frat parties are overrated. clubbing is overrated. if you go, make sure you’re with someone you trust. but if you know that you’ll have a better time just hanging out with one or two close friends or curling up in your room with a good book, then do that instead. no matter what the tv shows tell you, you won’t miss out on finding your soulmate just because you don’t go to one party.
9. no one will hold your hand in college. no one is going to tell you “take this, this, and this class” or “study one chapter a night and you’ll be good for the test.” you have to figure that shit out for yourself. in high school, you might have gotten away with studying for a test the night before, but if you do that in college, you will most likely not get the grade you were hoping for. unless you’re a genius, it’s just impossible. so make sure you start studying way before you think you need to.
10. do your laundry. take out your trash. make your room look nice. yes, even during finals week. it’ll make you feel like more of a human being.
11. go to your professors’ office hours. i’ve found that most of the time, the professors are sitting in their office, just waiting for students to come see them during office hours. so if you’re struggling, go talk to them. and don’t wait around until the week before the final. the professor will be much more willing to help you out if you go see them near the beginning of the semester. never, ever, ever be ashamed to ask for help. each time i’ve asked a professor “how can i do better in your class?” they’ve been delighted to talk to me and figure out a plan to help me improve. also, you will most likely need a letter of recommendation from one of your professors at some point in your college career, and you don’t want to have to be that person sending an email to that professor you had three years ago that starts with “i’m sure you don’t remember me, but…” – how do you make a professor remember you? go to office hours!
12. sure, drinking might be fun and it might make you seem cool. it might make it easier for you to be in social situations. but when you are entirely incapable of having fun while sober, that’s when you know you have a problem. that whole “you’re not an alcoholic until after college” saying is bullshit. it’s fine to have drinking be a part of your social life. just make sure it doesn’t become your ENTIRE social life. also, if a party gets too loud and rowdy, do yourself a favor and get out of there before campus police shows up. it’s not worth the stress to have that be on your record.
13. the great thing about college is that you can pick your friends (unlike in high school when you kind of were forced to be friends with the people in your classes), so please choose wisely. be friends with people who do cool things and support you while you do cool things. if someone makes you feel shitty, don’t hang out with them. just straight up tell them that you don’t want to spend time with them anymore, too. life is too short to be friends with people you hate.
14. take lots of pictures – but not just for social media. for yourself, too. so that you can look back on these moments ten or twenty years from now and see how much you’ve learned, grown, and changed.
15. there were douchey people in high school and, unfortunately, there will be douchey people in college, too. but anyone who still tries to be “popular” in college is just setting themselves up for disappointment and embarrassment. so just ignore them. eventually, they will grow up and realize the error of their ways. but until then, stay as far away from them as possible and just do your own thing. “leave lame people to keep doing the lame shit that they do.“
16. I know you’re busy, but don’t forget to call your mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa – whatever. if there’s someone back home who cares about you, call them. and more often than you think you need to. because i can promise you that they’re probably worried sick about you.
17. be confident. if you’re not confident, then fake confidence until it becomes real. you are glorious. you are wonderful. once you’re no longer afraid to show your true self to others, you’ll give others the confidence to reveal their true selves, as well. so what if you’re a little chubby? so what if you still have acne? so what if you don’t have clothes that are as nice as everyone else? you’re still a force of nature, and people should be dying to want to hang out with someone as awesome as you.
18. get involved in things. new things. never danced before but always wanted to? try out for the dance team. always wanted to sing but never had the guts before? try out for an a capella group. nothing is holding you back.
19. the whole “no one knows me here, i can be whoever i want to be” is true, but only to a certain extent. you can change yourself in college, but you probably won’t be able to change who you are fundamentally. you are still the silly, goofy, crazy you that you were in high school. so even though you might tell yourself that you want to be friendlier, cooler, prettier, smarter – whatever – don’t lose sight of who you really are, because i can promise you that people will see past your facade. and the more honest you are to people, the more likely they will be to open up to you.
20. be a nice person. hold the door open for people. smile at everyone you make eye contact with. talk to the person you sit next to in class, even if it is a 100+ person lecture. college is hard, and it can be very easy to feel lonely and lost. so just be nice to people. you never know whose day you’ll make. plus, it has its perks.