It’s finally back-to-school season! I have seen on Twitter that so many of you are entering your freshman year of college within the next couple of weeks. If you read my previous post, you’d know that I did not have the typical freshman year experience. Here are some things I think would benefit all incoming freshman to hear.
1. You will change your major and career path. Multiple times.
I can only think of a handful of people who kept their major and/or minor the same their entire four years. I originally entered college as an Elementary Education and History double major with a minor in Special Education. After taking a Psychology class my first semester, I fell in love.
When I transferred to UMass my second semester of college, I switched Psychology to my major. I decided to pursue a minor in Education because I thought I wanted to be a School Psychologist. I then added Public Health as my primary major and moved Psychology to my secondary, only to shortly drop Public Health altogether. I decided I wanted to be a therapist during junior year, and I still believe that’s what I want to pursue. I stuck with the Education minor because I still wanted to have the background knowledge. Now, I will (hopefully) graduate in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I’m currently planning on taking a gap year after that and getting a full-time job, then applying to graduate school.
2. It’s okay to fail.
Up until my junior year, I was almost a straight-A student. Then, I had a lot of things happen in my personal life which led to an increase in my anxiety and a diagnosis of depression. I didn’t get proper treatment and I ended up failing a few of my classes. These were classes that I would normally excel in if I had my normal work ethic and motivation. However, I couldn’t even get out of bed most days. While I put myself down for so long for this, I realized that my mental health is way more important than a bad grade. I’m not a failure because I failed a few classes. I had personal things going on in my life that I have now gotten treatment for. I’m ready to go back to school and kick senior year’s butt.
3. Uncomfortable experiences can turn into the best experiences.
I joined my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, my sophomore year. I felt so overwhelmed on bid day that I went back to my dorm and cried for the rest of the night. I didn’t know anyone in my new chapter and felt extremely uncomfortable. I decided to stick it out and now love it. I’ve met so many incredible people and have grown to be a more confident person.
I also chose to stay in my college town for the summer and live alone in my apartment. While this seems like a nightmare for anyone with anxiety, this summer has made me more independent and fiscally responsible. I’ve loved my job and internship and have had a great time visiting my Massachusetts friends.
4. It’s okay to get accommodations.
After two years without accommodations, I finally registered with Disability Services to get a single bedroom. I also plan on visiting them early next semester to see if there’s anything I can do if my anxiety and depression gets worse during the semester. If you want more information about getting accommodations in college, read my last post!
5. You aren’t the only one struggling.
You may feel like you are totally alone in what you are going through, but I promise, you are not. After I started my blog and shared my mental health story, I had so many people reach out to me telling me their similar experiences. You aren’t the only one doing poorly in your classes, struggling with anxiety, or having relationship problems.
6. You’re better at things than you think you are.
Don’t put yourself down for your hard work! I am very self-critical, but it turns out, I’m better at things than I thought I was. I thought I wasn’t doing great at my internship, but the other day they asked me if I could continuing interning through the school year. I thought my writing was terrible but I’ve been getting great feedback. Chances are if you love something and put time and effort into it, you are better it than you think you are.
7. There’s no point in comparing yourself to other people because they aren’t perfect, either.
There has been one girl that I’ve admired and wanted to be like since I’ve met her. She seemed so intelligent, put-together, well-dressed, and well-rounded. However, I recently found out that she is not a good-natured or genuine person. I would much rather be good-natured and genuine than perfectly dressed all the time.
8. Start saving early.
I’ll be honest, in the past, I haven’t been responsible with my money. I saved up a lot last summer, but after I decided that I wouldn’t be studying abroad, I spent almost all of it. I have always been the type of person to shop when they’re sad, and deciding not to spend a semester in Scotland was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life. While shopping was a great form of therapy at the moment, I highly regret spending most of my savings. Now I am a year from graduating with a tiny savings account. I wish I saved my money so I had funds for a spring break trip, paying off student loans after graduation, and unexpected expenses.
9. You can’t plan for everything.
I am very much a planner. I hate uncertainty. However, college is chock full of uncertainty. College classes fill up fast and you might not get your preferred schedule. You may plan to study abroad but something could come up (in my case, a decline in mental health). There are many circumstances that you can’t plan for. Sometimes, you just have to accept that.
10. This is your time to do what you want.
College is the four (plus or minus) years of your life that you are on your own but not fully an adult. You don’t have as many bills to pay but you still are able to be independent of your parents. If there is something that you want to do (for example: start a blog, join a sorority, get a tattoo), do it.