I remember thinking at some point in the doldrums of my sophomore year that I wished someone had warned me about my freshman year. Of course, I was warned about creepy guys and sugary punch at frat parties. I was warned about the heavy workload and the challenge of making new friends, but everyone just kept telling me that I was going to have so much fun. Everyone said, “Enjoy it. College is the best four years of your life.” Here’s what I wish someone had told me before my first year at Wake Forest.
Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks
This campus can be an intimidating place. We are surrounded by all these beautiful people who seem to have their lives together. I spent so much time worrying about what everyone thought of me — the people on my hall, the cute boys in my FYS, that guy I drunkenly made out with last weekend, the person behind me in the salad line … the list goes on. News flash: No one cares if you roll into class rocking a T-shirt and a messy bun most days or if you eat Chick-fil-a multiple times a week or if you put weird things in your salad.
The people who do care need to find something else to occupy their minds. You will never really enjoy Wake until you stop trying to live according to the people around you.
The great thing about being a freshman at Wake is that everyone is eager to make new friends, especially during your first semester. Take advantage of that climate, because it quickly changes. It’s great to make friends with the people on your hall or in your classes, but don’t forget to keep meeting new people. Don’t wait for your roommate to do things with you, just do them on your own. Join a group or go to an event by yourself. College is the time for independence, so learn how to enjoy life on your own terms.
Take your classes seriously
While your friends at other schools might be skipping class more often than not, you can’t afford to do that here. Classes are hard, and Wake is expensive. Go to class. Pay attention. Take notes. Save your skip days for an extra-long weekend or Thanksgiving break. Also, make an effort to get to know your professors. You’ve probably heard this piece of advice since your first tour of the campus, but that’s because it’s worth repeating. Professors respect students who show an interest, and they’re usually really cool people.
You will learn how to handle some serious shit
During my time in college, I have seen my friends struggle with depression, anxiety, long-distance relationships, drinking problems, sexual assault — the list goes on. In high school, I had never dealt with anything more serious than a drunk friend crying at a party. I had no idea how to support my friends, and when serious issues started to affect me personally, I didn’t really know how to deal with it. My advice: Talk about it.
It isn’t until you start to talk with your friends about what’s going on that you can really start to understand what they’re going through and begin to support them. It’s hard and it takes a lot of growing up, but this is college — and, more importantly, life.
My last piece of advice is to enjoy this year, because it’s the last time in your life that you’ll be able to brush off stupid behavior with nothing more than a shrug saying, “I was a freshman in college.”