I just finished up my freshman year at Michigan State University and although the school year is over, I missed it so much already I had to come back; so ironically enough I write this post from East Lansing! I recently completed training to be a campus tour guide helping other students fall in love with their new home just as I did; something I love more than I even imagined I could. Quite the full circle year it seems and one I can honestly stamp as the best year of my life. I learned so much along the way, here are some of my experiences, things I wish I knew before I came to college, as well as advice as to how to make the most out of your freshman year!
It’s totally normal and completely okay to be anxious for this huge, new chapter of your life. I know all of the “what if’s” kept me awake at night, it can be scary to part with the life you’ve known for the past four years but every college freshman feels this way. I wish I wouldn’t have worried so much about silly things before I left; try to turn your nerves into excitement – you get a fresh start!
Saying “see you later” to my family was emotional, move-in day had been highly anticipated for so long so let your parents have their moment – remember it’s a big step for them too! Let your mom take pictures, hug your siblings and don’t be shocked if your dad even sheds a tear. Despite the emotions, I found being dropped off somewhere completely new to be surprisingly refreshing. You become the newest “you” that you have ever been up to that point. Every single face is unfamiliar, every place you go feels brand new. Take it all in and explore! Don’t miss out on a single thing. MSU had so many fun things to do during Welcome Week, it was the best time to meet new people! Don’t hide away in your room to be “too cool” to participate, grab your roommate and head out to the activities together!
Speaking of roommates, I was lucky enough to have a great experience using RoomSync. RoomSync is an online tool to help you find the best roommate for you and it’s super easy to use! You fill out a short survey about yourself in addition to writing a quick blurb about what you are seeking in a roommate. Many schools across the country offer this as an option and I would highly recommend checking it out. It was the same feeling as going in blind but gave me peace of mind in knowing I knew enough about the person I would be sharing my room with to be comfortable. My roommate and I got along great, we were respectful of each other’s space and belongings; I couldn’t have asked for a better situation for my first year. Living in such a small space with someone you’ve never met before really teaches you to have a high level of respect for others and how to handle conflict like an adult. I know friends of mine who weren’t as lucky with their roommates, if this were to be the case with you, try to talk out the issues with them and if that doesn’t work, your resident assistant (RA) would be a great resource to help you.
Before coming to college I was nervous that the level of academics as well as the work load would be a challenging jump compared to high school. I found that although the content was more challenging and the work load was heavier, I had much more time to focus on my school work. I was a very involved high school student with packed full days of school, multiple extracurriculars, club sporting events and work. In college it was a blank slate, I was able to experience my first few weeks of school work and then decide how many things on campus I could get involved with based on the time commitment I needed to set aside to succeed in my classes. School comes first, this is college, you pay for your classes and you are there to earn your degree, stay focused while enjoying yourself and use your resources. Go to class; really, you already paid for it! Do the extra credit opportunities that you are offered, they can really help your grade at the end of the semester. Most importantly, ask for help when you need it! Do not be embarrassed to ask for help, go to your professor’s open office hours or utilize your university’s tutor program. At MSU they have free tutoring which I definitely took advantage of. Math is my weakest subject and I am not at all ashamed to say I spent many hours at MSU’s Math Learning Center on campus. Taking time out of my week to do this and seek out the help I needed was crucial to my success.
Your college experience will truly be what you make it. You’re on your own, you have new freedom you’ve never felt before and it’s time for you to go after what you want without your parents doing it for you. Set goals for yourself, the opportunities are endless. Experience everything you can, use your new freedom to excel, trust your decisions and make the most of your time – this is home.
GET INVOLVED; this is what truly made my first year unforgettable. There are organizations on campus for any and every interest you may have. Specifically, I jumped right in during the first month of the fall semester by seeking out an organization that I could continue to participate in acting. When I auditioned for Telecaster’s Sideshow I had no idea how much I would learn about working on screen as well as off screen and all of the experiences it would bring my way. It provided me with a family feeling, a group of people that shared similar interests, inspired me and one I knew I could trust.
But also step out of your comfort zone, this is where adventure begins! Have an open mind, you never know what you could stumble upon or the people that you could be lucky enough to meet. I most definitely think participating in some time of organization during your freshman year is such a positive and beneficial experience.
What getting involved has blessed me with most of all is incredible lifelong friendships. The friends I made within my first year made school feel like home, they became my family and the reason for fun filled weekends. The best advice I can give is to surround yourself with hardworking people who have aspirations and goals who are supportive of you and encourage you to be the best you can be. I am so proud to call these people my friends and am so thankful for the memories we’ve made together.
The days of my freshman year have been some of the happiest of my life so far and I could not have imagined experiencing a better beginning to my Spartan journey. Everyone’s college experience will be different, remember that it takes time to adjust! But even through the stress, never take a moment for granted, you are so blessed to be able to be receiving a college level education and you will not believe how quickly time will fly.
Thanks for reading!
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