As you begin your first year of college, you are experiencing a lot of feelings. The feelings are good, sometimes bad, but mainly uncertain. You likely have an image painted in your mind of what college will be like. No matter what colors or strokes you used, it’s probably an inaccurate painting. That’s the beauty of college and really the rest of your adult life: you paint as you go.
You are currently at a crossroads in your life, and you have the opportunity to make the next few years whatever you want them to be. As I begin my fourth year of college, I’ve learned that you get what you give. Each year has been an entirely different experience, and I look forward to what I can make of my final year. Here are a few things I wish someone had told me when I was beginning my first year at Loyola:
- Go to the sponsored events and programs.
Yeah, they’re cheesy. Yeah, they can be awkward. The best part is that everyone else feels as awkward as you and you can bond over it! No one knows each other during these first few weeks, so don’t be afraid to spark up a conversation.
- No one else knows what they’re doing.
If you’re like me, you’re always convinced that everyone is in the know while you are clueless. Don’t worry, we’re all lost together.
- Adulting is hard.
There’s a reason we were always told not to grow up. No one’s going to tell you what to do, but that also means you have to learn to think for yourself and take care of yourself. With freedom comes responsibility, and it’s ultimately up to you to decide how you want to live every second of your day. Don’t forget that when you have 3 exams and 2 papers and 1 project in a week, self-care is SO important. Balance is key.
- GPA is not everything.
Back in high school, I was that competitive student fighting for the top GPA and standardized testing scores. Unless you’re planning on going to med school, GPA really doesn’t matter. What do matter are your work ethic, your study habits, and your ability to independently learn and analyze information for yourself.
During my first semester at Loyola, I received a 29% on a physics exam and had to withdraw late in the semester with a W. I thought this was the end of the world. I have made the Dean’s List every other semester and will still graduate with Honors. I have also already begun interviewing for jobs post-grad. Breathe. Think. You’ll be fine.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Needing help doesn’t mean you’re stupid, annoying, or wrong; it means you’re human. As a student at Loyola, you have an unbelievable amount of resources to help you. It’s smart to use them.
- Chicago is the best city in the world.
Don’t limit yourself to Rogers Park. Chipotle is good and parties seem cool, but you’ll get bored quickly. There are so many unique neighborhoods that are accessible with your lovely Ventra. Take advantage of your city and explore!
Maybe I was told all of these things and just didn’t listen because three years ago seems like such a blur. I can’t stress enough to keep an open mind, and most of all, enjoy every second. College is too short to not love every second.