They say that hindsight is 20/20 vision and I guess thats a phrase for a reason. Especially when it comes to your freshmen year of college, there are definitely a few pieces of advice that we all wish we got before stepping onto campus for the first time.
While some things you just have to learn from experience (and thats the fun part), here are eight things I wish I knew before I started my freshmen year of college.
1. You don't have to join everything: I'm guilty of being that girl. I was the one wandering around the activities fair on the second day of school adding my name to (almost literally) every clubs email list. I signed-up for every group that looked even remotely interesting or like a good resume builder (or had free food). It didn't take long for me to realize that there was no way I was making 15 club meetings every week so one by one I made choices.
College isn't like high school; you don't need to flood your resume trying to participate in everything. Rather, pick two or three activities that you really enjoy and can invest yourself in. You'll get far more out of them, guaranteed.
2. Your friend group may change a lot: For me, one of the biggest surprises about college was that sometimes friends only last for a few days, weeks, months, or a semester. The fact that circumstances and classes change every semester means that your best friend or entire social circle may change right along with it and thats okay. In fact, thats normal. Of course you'll end up with a core group of friends eventually, but if they aren't the people you met at orientation or your freshmen year roommate, don't worry thats totally normal.
3. Don't go home every weekend: I saw so many of my friends go home every weekend to hang out with their BFFs from home, high school boyfriends/girlfriends, etc. and miss out on some pretty fabulous bonding time while they were gone. The first few weeks of college are crucial for finding your place and really acclimating to campus. So if you can help it, stick around even if you're feeling homesick. Home will still be there at Thanksgiving, I promise.
4. You don't need to buy all of your textbooks: I cannot even begin to tell you how much money I wasted freshmen year by buying all of my textbooks. Unless you have an assignment due before the first day of class, wait until classes begin to find out from professors if you really need to invest in a copy of the reading material.
On a similar note: don't be fooled into thinking you need to buy new textbooks. 99% of the time, used textbooks suffice just fine. After all, you were probably going to highlight the same stuff anyway.
5. Even when it seems optional, go anyway: Often times in college, things aren't mandatory. Attending classes, lectures, recitation, office hours, etc. are considered to be completely optional. Don't be fooled though. Professors will remember who shows up to office hours when they're assigning final grades. Attending every class will definitely boost your overall comprehension of a subject. Paying attention and taking notes in lectures will help you study more than a night of cramming. (Its not rocket science people!)
6. Sleep: It sounds like common sense, I know. But between classes, clubs, friends, and having a social life, usually sleep is the first thing to go. While its tempting to only get four hours of shut-eye a night, don't get sucked into that pattern. Remember to get enough sleep. Being well rested for class is just as important as actually going to it and getting enough sleep can also help reduce your chances of getting sick (which will inevitably happen anyways but sleep will still help!)
7. Enjoy the convenience of the dining hall: Because after you move into your off-campus apartment, I assure you that you will miss the dining hall. Just take my word for it and embrace it while you can.
8. Go to free events on campus:There will be tons of free concerts, speakers, comedians, plays, EVERYTHING on campus this semester. Make a point of going to as many of them as you can (without like, flunking out of school or something.) How many chances in your life will you get to hear Maya Angelou speak or be front row for a Yellowcard concert...FOR FREE? Trust me, when you leave college, you will long for the days of free food, music and the chance to see super famous people free of charge.
Sigh I love college.
About the author: Emily Grier is a senior at Penn State University_ earning her Bachelors and Masters of Accounting. Emily was a 2011 Collegiate Correspondent for USA Today College and former managing editor of Valley Magazine, Penn States life and style publication. Shes been published on seventeen.com, The Huffington Post, Her Campus, Thought Catalog, and in The Pennsylvania CPA Journal. She spent Fall 2012 interning in London, England.