Starting college can be a time of mixed emotions: excitement, uncertainty, fear of the unknown. While the experience is different for everyone, Meg Godfrey ('19) shares the seven things she thinks everyone should know before entering their first year of college.
1. Enjoy Your Last Summer.
Once school starts you’ll have more responsibilities and less free time. The workload and academics in college are unlike what you may have experienced in high school. So, take advantage of these months of summer: spend time with family and friends, travel, do whatever makes you the happiest. Most importantly— enjoy yourself.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone.
I wish I knew this when I was 18 and a first-year student at Springfield College because I was extremely intimidated by a lot of things. For example, I got nervous when people asked me what my major was because I had entered school as undeclared and unsure of what I wanted to study. I kept comparing other people’s choices to my own. People seemed to know exactly what they wanted out of their college experience and I couldn’t help but think that everyone was going to be more successful than I was. Wow, was I wrong. I’m almost 22 years old now and I can now confidently say that you don’t need to know what you want to do with your life as soon as you enter college. It’s okay to come in as an undeclared major, take some courses, and decide what you want to pursue. Comparing myself to other people only caused stress and anxiety that, in the long run, took away so much of my time. You are unique, and your life will fall into place when you’re ready for it.
3. Find a Schedule That Works For You.
I soon realized 8 a.m. classes were not for me (despite the beautiful Massasoit sunrises). I am not a morning person at all, but for some reason, I took an 8 a.m. my freshman year and it was a terrible decision. I had such a hard time getting there on time and could barely pay attention to the professor. It didn’t matter what time I went to bed, I was just not prepared to learn so early in the morning. Long story short, try to create a schedule that fits who you are as a person. Sometimes you'll have no choice but to take an early morning class, but the best part of college is the ability to manage your own time. Figure out a schedule that works for you.
4. Be Prepared to Change.
I know it may seem like you have it all figured out, but I promise you things will change. You will change. You’ll start to find new parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed. I thought I had my whole world figured out and then I got to Springfield College and my mindset began to change. I’m here to tell you: embrace the change! That’s when new and great things start to happen. Believe in yourself and the decisions you make!
5. You’re Going to Lose and Gain Friends.
You may think that the friends you’ve had throughout high school will always be your closest friends, but the truth is they probably won’t be. I’m not saying this is true for everyone, but it does happen and that’s perfectly okay. Your lives are changing so fast and you have a whole new world in front of you. You’re going to start having new interests and meeting new people within organizations and academics with whom you share common interests. Nothing can take the place of friends you’ve had for years, it’s okay to make new friends that you want to spend your time with as well. It’s important to understand that it is okay and that sometimes you may lose touch with people. Even the friends you make during your first days here at Springfield College will change as you learn more about yourself. Remember, you are changing, and your friends may as well. No one is at fault.
6. Learn How to Properly Manage Your Time.
This is a big one! You want to make sure you have good time management skills because you’re going to have to balance more things in your life now than you ever did before. For me, the best strategy was to get a planner and write down everything. Learn what strategies work best for you to get everything done and stick to it. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
7. Get to Know the Town/City You’re In.
Know what the city/town your college is like before you step foot on campus as an official student. Walk or drive around the area and get to know the local restaurants and hangouts. Springfield, Mass. has a lot to offer students, as do other nearby towns. It's also good to know the locations of nearby convenience stories, shopping areas, and grocery stores. Take time to discover the area around you because it will be beneficial to know where you'll be living for the next four years.