Thoughts for College Freshmen, Part 2

July 21, 2010 at 4:39 am 1 comment

So.  You’ve arrived at your dorm room, and you may or may not be overwhelmed by the massive amounts of stuff to cram into it and the shocking blue-and-white-wig your spirited RA is wearing.  Well, your RA will probably not be wearing a wig in the school’s colors.  (Mine did.  And it was very helpful, because she wore it during all of orientation…and was therefore very easy to spot). 

In terms of the stuff – it will fit.  By sheer willpower, if necessary.  But bed risers are absolutely essential, and while the room probably looks more fun if you loft it or bunk beds, just realize that you’ve lost that prime storage space.  (It doesn’t look so nice to have all the boxes stacked in a corner instead of under the bed.)  And hopefully your RA will be as wonderful and nice as mine.  Regardless, they are one of your greatest resources, so take advantage of the fact that they’re there for you.  They will tell you some fun school events that you shouldn’t miss, help you figure out a textbook crisis, and find the online bus schedule for you. 

Now for some more thoughts….

5. Be Yourself.  If you think this is the most-quoted piece of advice (and least helpful?), I probably agree with you.  But here’s my explanation: you are at school, in a place where no one knows you, no one knows your history, or your friends, or your family members.  (Which was strange for someone usually known as “Katie’s Little Sister”!)  And frankly, they don’t really care about those things.  The result is often a startling and thrilling sense of freedom.  I realized about a day into this new adventure that I could completely re-invent myself if I wanted.  And that was kinda cool.  For the first time, I could choose everything myself. 

Like I said, it’s kinda thrilling.  But my advice to you is to ride this wave the right way.  Enjoy the freedom, and enjoy changing all the small things you want – your fashion, or experimenting with clubs that your old friends may have never pictured you with (you’re in the equestrian club?  really??).  College is absolutely a time to explore – within reason and morals – and learn about yourself, your interests and talents, and your world.  So go for it.  But don’t take your freedom the wrong way to become an entirely different person that you’re not, or to sacrifice some of your standards because you so desperately want to fit in, and no one here would be surprised anyway.  (Besides, reputations are earned rather quickly at college – and it’s pretty hard to convince people you’ve changed and you now have higher standards.  So start with them high!)  And this leads me to my next point…

6. Don’t Apologize or Be Ashamed about following God.  This idea comes from a book I read this summer; unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was.  Regardless, the author was telling a (true, I believe) story of wisdom passed along from father to son, possibly at the Jewish boy’s bar mitzvah.  The wisdom was this: “Don’t be ashamed of your holy calling.”  Others will not understand.  They will try to get you to change.  But you, you have a holy calling on your life.  Don’t be ashamed of it and don’t apologize for it.  And this is what I say to you: Don’t be ashamed of your holy calling.  Because I promise you that there will be people – probably most of your friends, too – who won’t fully understand.  There will likely be lots of Christians who don’t understand why some of your standards are “prudishly high” – whether they’re talking about the movies you won’t watch, or clothes, or anything else.  But frankly, you don’t need their approval, and even if they tease you for it, they’ll respect you too.  (And to trade your King’s approval for theirs would be a tragic mistake indeed).  And what about that verse about letting no one look down upon us because of our youth, but being an example in love and purity?  So, in the grace and strength and humility of Christ – obey him, seek to glorify him in every area of your life, and don’t be ashamed of your high and holy calling. 

7. Meal Time is Prime Social Time (but it’s okay to eat alone) This one you’ll figure out on your own pretty fast.  You have limited hours in your day, but eating is something everyone needs to do, and it’s ever so much fun to make it a social event.  So, as I mentioned before when I told you to initiate – text friends and see if they want to do dinner, or lunch, or breakfast!  Or go with your roommate, or sit down with some people from your dorm that you find in the dining hall.  Take full advantage of this time.  But on the flip side, it’s okay to eat alone.  It probably took me a good two months to not feel embarrassed (“everyone’s going to pity me and think I don’t have any friends!”).  But frankly, no one else cares, and everyone eats by themself (especially for breakfast and lunch).  And if you need to eat quickly, or no one else is available, or whatever – it really is okay to eat alone.  I promise.  (Just take a book so you don’t look like you’re staring everyone else down). 

8. Have a Cut-Off Time.  You may not have noticed, but sleep is pretty important for our age group.  And pretty scarce in college.  But, it’s obviously necessary.  You do not want to be the upperclassman who told me, “My first semester, my immune system pretty much shut down!”  Coffee may give you that extra boost of energy, but it won’t help your immune system.  And while it often feels like it’s better to sacrifice sleep than schoolwork, you do need to get regular and decent sleep in order to continue to function.  So here’s the little tip my sister told me: have a cut-off time when you stop working every night (not just “I’ll stop when I’ve done x amount of work”).  This can be ditched when you have something major due the next day, obviously, but it’s very helpful for most nights.  I usually stop work around 11 or 12 and then start to get ready for bed, call my family, et cetera.  This helps me to work more productively, when I know I only have a certain amount of time left, and it helps me prioritize sleep as well.  Win-win.  And it helps keep your mind on your work instead of daydreaming of your pillow, because you know that soon you can actually go to bed.  Win-win-win!

9. Wear flip-flops in the shower.  I’m assuming most of my readers are girls, and I’m assuming you knew this already.  But in case you didn’t…..please.  Target and Old Navy have awesome cheap ones.  Get a pair, consecrate them to the shower, and wear them religiously. 

10. Get an upperclassman’s phone number.  Like your orientation leader or RA or the sweet girl you met in the dining hall.  Anyone who you can call, wail “I’m lost!!” – and they will help you find your way back after you managed to get two blocks downtown.  (Yes.  That happened to me.  I happen to go to a very big school on a very big campus.  But if you are directionally challenged, as I am, get the phone number even if you are on a tiny campus.  I very nearly managed to get lost on Patrick Henry’s campus once, in the middle of camp.  And that is quite the feat, because there is all of about five buildings.  Besides, numbers are always helpful). 

11.  School Spirit.  It’s awesome.  Make sure you have it.  For extra props, listen to the Beach Boys’ “Be True to Your School” on game days. 

So those are some more tips – some funny, some serious.  I’ll have more tomorrow!

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Entry filed under: college.

Thoughts for College Freshmen we interrupt this series with a public service announcement

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Annie  |  July 23, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    the quote from #6 sounds like it’s from leslie ludy’s set-apart femininity. these are great tips! you know i’m also through my first year of college, so i’m agreeing with a lot of them {probably all of them}. i think it’s an awesome idea for you to share what you’ve learned through your blog!

    Reply

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