Freshman: some free advice

hands holding a candleThis week at my university is Wildcat Week, or welcoming all the new students.

Last night was the Candle Light Service. It is a right of passage for incoming freshman. The students walk between two rows of current and former students holding candles. The students then light their own.

A professor then welcomes them and gives them words of encouragement and some advice about how to deal with the coming four years.

It is a fun experience to watch all the kids come in but at the same time, it makes me realize that it has been an incredible ride– a ride that is ending for me and many others.


I have been to three different universities and a community college. I have been to a public university and attended two private ones.

If there is one thing I have learn, it is this:

You will change but staying true to yourself is the best path.

I know, it sounds like a contradiction but it is true. Semester after semester I have found my beliefs challenged and what I thought the world was like changed. Instead of allowing others to dictate what I believed in or changed my belief to fit whatever trend that was happening on social media, I forced myself to find what I really believed in and why.

Here are a couple of examples:

Why did I not drink before college? Parents told me not to. Why don’t I drink now? I don’t like the taste of what I have had so far and frankly, I have no desire to.

Why don’t I party before college? I lived out in the middle of nowhere. Why don’t I party now? I don’t like the crowds and the average person’s idea of a party (heavy drinking, loud music, and crazy stuff going on) just isn’t my idea of fun.

So, yes. You will grow. There will be things that you don’t like to do. There will be things that you don’t like to talk about. Your beliefs will be challenged. But don’t go turtling into your shell. Meet those challenges head on. Find out what you really believe.

freshmen students holding candlesAdvice

So here is my two cents worth to the Freshman Class of 2015 for how to survive college, as I have done in my own life:

Finish your work.

Once you got what you need done, you can enjoy your free time without homework looming over your shoulder and cutting it short. Got a quiz tomorrow? Look at your notes. Got a test in a week? Get ready for it. This will let you stay on top of work.

Find time to relax.

Pick a night where you can put off homework for tomorrow. Use this night to enjoy yourself with a book or friends or movie or whatever. This lets your mind recharge and keep you from burning out with all the homework.

Accept yourself.

This one can be really hard. To accept what you see in the mirror and love yourself. Yes, you may have flaws and what not but you can work to improve them. But the road becomes easier when you can be comfortable in your own skin.

Invest your time.

Every minute that ticks by is not coming back in any shape or form. You can use it to invest in the future or you can waste it. Use your time wisely to get the most out of it. That might mean instead of playing a video game, you read a book that your professor recommended. Or it might mean instead of spending an hour to cruise Facebook, you go take a nap.

Pick your friends carefully.

You will become who you surround yourself with. Choose wisely. I don’t care who says what but the habits of the people around you will rub off on you. Make sure you are picking up the right habits. Also, these friends will stick with you thick and thin and really care about who you are. Not just for the moment but for life.


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