You’ve finally graduated high school and the future looks bright. You’re excited for what’s to come — new adventures to be had, new memories to make — and you’re ready to take on the college campus that will be your new home for the next four years. It’s an exciting time to be a college freshman, but it can be overwhelming, too.
Here are eight pieces of advice to hold onto when the overwhelm sets in:
1. Learn how to do your own laundry.
Your mom or dad will not be there to do your laundry for you or remind you to wash your underwear and dirty socks. When that laundry basket gets full, don’t wait until the last second to do it—you’ll be much happier with clean clothes and sheets.
2. You still should eat your vegetables.
As tempting as it might be to have pizza for every meal, and ice cream for every snack, don’t forget about your veggies. A salad will be good for your soul.
3. You don’t need to go out drinking every night.
There will be friends who want to go to the bars every evening or a party every night, but it’s okay to stay in and get a good night’s sleep. Your grades will thank you. Your liver will thank you. And please know that you don’t have to imbibe in alcohol if you don’t want to.
4. If you’re able to, always take the total amount of credits—especially subjects that are not part of your degree of study.
One of the most beautiful parts of college is that you get to learn about things that you never knew existed, and therefore deepen your understanding of the world and what intrigues you. Take every opportunity you can to learn from the professors, experts in their field. Ask them questions, listen to their lectures, and commit yourself to learning something new every day.
5. Be gentle with your heart.
You might fall in love in college, and you might fall out of it, too. You might start a romantic relationship that grows into marriage and lasts for the rest of your days, and you might find someone who teaches you what you need and want from love, if only for a few years of your time. Whatever your romantic road looks like, remember to be gentle with your heart as you travel.
6. When the homesickness sets in, remain calm.
It’s natural to miss your family and friends and the ones whom you’ve grown with for the past 18 years. Resist the urge to leave your school to visit home and consider calling or writing a letter instead.
7. It’s okay to ask for help.
Maybe your homesickness is getting the best of you, or perhaps you’re in a relationship that is not good for your heart, or you’re finding it hard to juggle the social scene and academics. Maybe it’s something else entirely. But whatever it is, recognize that there are mental health professionals on campus that are there to help you, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking their help.
8. Enjoy this time.
Let yourself lean into the possibilities that come with learning, growing, and discovering new things and experiences each day. College is a beautiful time for self-discovery, both from a personal and professional perspective.
There will be ups and downs during your collegiate journey—times when you feel like you’re on top of the world and times when you feel as if you have no idea what you’re doing, either. When that happens, please take a deep breath and hold onto these reminders and remember that most people are still figuring it out along the way.