As this summer comes to a close and I embark on my sophomore year at Spelman College, I recall the many, many times I have been asked about my first-year experience. Whenever I responded, my answer always felt inadequate. It is extremely hard to adequately describe how amazing and critical this last year was for me and how much I grew this past year in a short conversation. What I can say is this year was a whirlwind that I would not change for anything.
As I reflect, I see many lessons I learned that I wish I would have known at the beginning of my freshmen year; that would have saved time, effort and overall made a lot of things easier. So I have put together for you five pieces of advice that I hope will help make this daunting but exciting adventure of freshman year easier for you.
1. Making friends was one of my biggest college fears. My two crucial pieces of advice to you that will make you successful in this area is be open and do not force relationships. There will be many events, some formal and some not, that will provide opportunities to introduce yourself to people; take advantage of that. This will help you begin to form those relationships that will inevitably lead to friendships. Once the relationships begin to form, I encourage you to evaluate them and ensure that they are genuine and not forced. Those that you deem as genuine will be the people you find yourself talking to everyday and missing as the semesters end.
2. Having people who you are close to who share your major, both in your class and older students, is very beneficial. Those who are older can steer you in the right direction for the course sequence and which classes to take. Those in your graduating class are perfect for study groups, which really were a key portion of my academic success this year.
3. I challenge you do a self-evaluation as it relates to your major after reading this. I want you to be sure that you are majoring in your choice because it is what you want to do, not because of what others told you to do or because it sounds good. I saw so many girls leave the biology department this past year and are now in other majors and are happy and thriving. Don’t cause yourself to struggle unnecessarily for something that you do not want.
4. Make sure you maintain the relationships at home that have been a part of you for your entire life. When you are homesick, your workload seems impossible, or you are just feeling a little lost, hearing a familiar voice from home and a bit of reminiscing is sure to ground you and get you back on track.
5. As a freshman, there is an extreme pressure to do everything and try everything. It’s okay to only experience the things you want to experience. There is no requirement to attend every single event, because chances are the same event and the same experience will happen soon, just masked under a different name. This will save you a lot of boring times and allow you to leave space for the events that you will truly enjoy.
I hope that you keep these pieces of advice in mind as you embark on this journey that will undoubtedly be one of the best times of your life. Good luck!
Blog author Morgan Brown is our 2016 Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholar. She is a sophomore at Spelman College.