An Open Letter to the New College Freshman

Written on September 12th, 2015

Here are some things I’ve been trying to remember as I make this transition (in all of its hyped-up, exciting, totally overwhelming glory).

It’s okay to call your mom. After all, hers was the first voice you ever heard. Did you just have a tough day? Come up with some obscure medical question? Finally appreciating not doing the entirety of your own laundry and dishes for the first eighteen years of your life? She’s here for it all.

There’s nothing wrong with missing home. Being homesick doesn’t make you lame or unadventurous or weak; it just means that you were lucky enough to have something hard to leave behind. Appreciating the life you lived for eighteen years is nothing to be ashamed of, and just because you’re finally off in college doesn’t mean you have to forget how wonderful your home is too.

Your mental health is important. These first few weeks are chaotic; you’re in a new bed in a new place with new people and new professors and new classes and probably more homework in the span of one week than you took the time to complete in all of your senior year. All of this is so overwhelming and it’s easy to feel like you have to constantly hang out with people or attend every event posted on the residence hall bulletin board. But it’s important to take time for yourself, too. Stepping out of your comfort zone is part of what college is all about, but don’t force yourself into anything that makes you overly uncomfortable. If you feel the need to hide away in some quiet place for a while, that’s okay. Pay attention to how you feel and take care of yourself. No one has a right to make you feel badly for preserving your mental health.

Don’t be ashamed of your priorities. At the end of the day you’re at college to get an education (at least I hope). We all know how much fun these next four years will be, but it’s important to remember your end goals as well. If you’re starting to feel sick, don’t be ashamed of staying in to let your body rest. If you have a huge exam on Monday, don’t feel lame if you spend the weekend in the library instead of being social. The truth is that there will always be another party, but you won’t always get a second chance at your academics.

Slow down a little. You’re stressed out right now, and I know it. No matter how well you’re hiding your moments of panic, not a single college freshman feels like they know what they’re doing 100% of the time. And that’s okay. You might not know what you want to major in yet, you might not have found your close friend group in these first few weeks, or maybe you’re still trying to figure out the best path to get around campus. There’s nothing wrong will all of that – you’re still learning, and you have so much time. Cut yourself some slack and just enjoy this next great adventure.