After a few months of living our best college lives, us freshmen have begun to develop a status quo for ourselves - finding our way and keeping our heads above water. However, we are definitely still newbies. The learning curve still exists, and as a new semester approaches, we are reminded that we still have a lot to discover. Whether we are getting sick for the first time as the weather gets colder, taking our first midterms, enrolling in classes for the spring semester or simply still trying to make the right friends, advice remains greatly welcome.
Fresh U warmed up their direct messaging fingers and scrolled through Twitter, asked students on campus and weaseled into a couple Facebook groups to find some smart college upperclassmen with wisdom to share, and what we found was pretty universal. Freshman year is a time to embrace regret, mistakes and failure. While trying your best is step one, realizing it's not perfect is the key to the rest of the journey.
Regret #1: Not Getting Involved
“I regret not getting involved as much. I should have made more connections and met more people. As a sophomore, I’m not that old yet, but there’s so much pressure to make these foundations and I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time.” - Adriana Carias, Sophomore, University of Nebraska-Omaha
Others also have this mindset, as they emerge into their college experience.
“[My regret is] not leaving my room freshman year. I’m two years in now and I can’t help but questions how much time I wasted, being extremely disconnected that year. This has shifted dramatically, but still, it affects me.” - Shaquan McDowell, Junior, Brandeis University
The first week of school often supplies us with free and easy-going opportunities, but as the year goes on, we have more difficulty branching out from our daily studies.
“I regret not doing the thing. I wish I would've gone to each and every club meeting that interested me, gone to more free school-sponsored events, gone out of my way to talk to people I wanted to get to know better, and taken initiative to make plans. Not trusting my gut and just doing the thing is my biggest regret.” - Casey Allen, Sophomore, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
In some instances, it takes a little time to find our passions, but if something sparks your interest, take the plunge and be a part of it.
“[My regret is] not joining an intramural sport. I’m trying now to join the Mizzou running club, but I don’t know where they meet, and I feel so confused. Freshmen are trying to help me join and I feel like an old dummy.” - Bizzy Emerson, Junior, University of Missouri
And know you aren't the only one stressed about making friends! It takes a lot of effort, and you're doing great.
“I regret focusing solely on my classes and thinking I had to spend every free moment studying. I would’ve gotten involved with so many things on campus earlier had I not done that.” - Peter Gonzales, Senior, California Polytechnic State University
Regret #2: Getting Too Involved
“I spent way too much time trying to please everyone else that I forgot to spend time on the important things like making sure I studied for my tests and that I got enough sleep at night. College is only hard if you make it hard. Manage your time, take naps, spend that one Friday night watching Netflix instead of going out, buy a package of Oreos instead of another cup of Ramen, treat yourself, you definitely deserve it.” - Taylor Andersen, Sophomore, Young Americans College of Performing Arts
I know this category kind of contradicts my first point, but everyone has a job to find their own balance between getting involved and having down time. This personal responsibility is part of what makes college so incredible.
“I definitely regret being too hard on myself about building my resume and not giving myself enough time to enjoy myself, focus on my relationships, and just live. I learned the work/life balance now that I'm a senior, but it was tough at the time to realize I wasn't doing a good job with it." - Emily Tantuccio, Senior, Rutgers University
It might take a little mindfulness and effort on your part, but self-care should be on the top of your to-do list.
“I regret working so much and not being able to go out and actually enjoy college life.” - Lily Tamayo, Sophomore, University of Nebraska - Omaha
Regret #3: Being Intimidated By Others
“I regret being intimidated my peers! It took me a long time to realize that I deserve to be here just as much as everyone else.” - Jaime Gordon, Sophomore, Duke University
Making connections is scary, but talking to new peers and professors really enriches your experience.
“I tend to regret not networking more my freshman year. Freshman year is about meeting as many people feasibly possible from all over the world! I wish I maintained a more open-minded mentality when meeting someone new." - Rohan Kandel, Cornell University
Sometimes just knowing that others have more experience than you is enough to scare you away. Remember to be humble, but know you are worth all of these potential friendships.
“During my first year, I was super intimidated by upperclasswomen (I attend a women's college), and shied away from interacting with them. They just seemed so experienced and savvy, you know? I wish I had the courage to chat up the upperclasswomen I admired before they graduated! Now, as an upperclasswoman myself, it's interesting to see the other side. You're a little older and a little wiser, sure, but there's still plenty of things you're learning (adulting, for example). My advice to first years would be to not be hesitant to reach out to upperclass[men] students. We want to hear about all your interesting experiences, as well as your dreams and aspirations. We want to support you and be the mentor we wish we had when we were in your place.” - Katy Ma, Senior, Wellesley College
A lot of us are also guilty of underestimating ourselves, simply because we are first-years. Let's change that mindset and blossom.
“I think one of my bigger regrets is that I didn't just enjoy being a freshman. I tried really hard NOT to act like one, but I think there's some great value in learning and having fun your first year.” - Leo Sheng, Senior, University of Michigan
Lastly, we must be aware of our surroundings. We need to work to recognize our freedom and our worth in all the mayhem of freshman year. Also...maybe know your limits when it comes to delivery food services.
“[My regret is] not making friends soon enough and not realizing the amount of freedom I had. Also eating my weight in Domino’s.” - Mariah Woods, Sophomore, Temple University
So there you have it! These personal stories from upperclassmen around the country will help us to sculpt the rest of our freshman careers, but know that it is just as rewarding and constructive to make our own awkward first-year revelations.
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