When I look back on the summer before heading away to college, I recall experiencing a wide array of emotions. I was excited, afraid, sad, and nervous all at once. As an 18 year old, it was the biggest change I’d ever had to experience (outside of becoming a big sister at age 6 – but I had no say in that one). My first week away at school, I cried myself to sleep in my bottom bunk bed, nicely tucked in my new & crisp XL twin sheets. I’d never been away from home for so long, away from my parents, and my friends I’d known my entire life. I had NO idea what I was in for. If I had known, I would have gotten my sulking, self-pitying butt out of bed and started to experience the beginning of what would be the best four years of my life. What would I tell my 18 yr. old, college-bound, self if I could?
Life is a series of big changes, and the sooner you can adapt to them the better off you’ll be. Even in the four years you’re away at school, you’ll grow tremendously. New people will be introduced in your life as others go, your preferences and dreams will change. Remember that life is a moving target and enjoy your experiences as much as you can, in the moment.This applies to cultivating friendships/relationships, getting involved on campus, applying for internships…EVERYTHING. Get out of your comfort zone and try something that scares you. You’d be surprised at what could happen. This is the only time in your life where it’s okay to make mistakes (reasonable ones, of course!), so take advantage of it and take risks. What you learn from them will last you a lifetime.Not in the back-stabbing, ruining others’ lives kind of way…but in the “I’m going to do me” kind of way. College is unique in that you have all of the time in the world to do what YOU want to do. Try new things, make new friends, party on a Tuesday night with people who have no other distractions outside of 9AM lecture the next day. Things get a lot more complicated later in life, so use this time to self-discover and be a little selfish.Though it may sound like a no-brainer, I know many people who spent too many weekends pent up in their dorms/apartments, studying away. Yes, school is incredibly important, but learn to prioritize and schedule your studying so that you have time to enjoy yourself. I left college not only with the knowledge I gained from my studies, but also with life skills that I gained from personal experiences outside of academics. Make time for those experiences. Learning to balance work & pleasure is a valuable skill that will help you later in life – better that you pick it up sooner than later!My one regret is that I never studied abroad in college. It was easy for me to come up with a million excuses not to go – it would have put me behind in my classes, I didn’t have the money at the time, I was afraid to go to another country on my own. I would trade anything to go back and live abroad for a semester. Once you get to the real world, you have a limited number of days you can travel…even though you may have the $$ to do it. Believe me, if you want to go, you can make it work financially. Don’t let that hold you back.