The following post was written by Becker student, Emma Pedraza '18, on her own blog. We loved it so much, we reposted it here with her permission. Even if you're not a freshman yet, you'll still benefit from her advice one day soon. Enjoy!
Dear Class of 2019,
Freshman year is just about one of the most exciting, stressful, scary, amazing experiences of college life. Freedom, new friends, finally starting to live the life you want to be living. It’s the first step towards being the adult you want to be. Think of it as an “adult-in-training” program. At least that’s how I think of it.
That being said, there are a few tidbits of wisdom I feel that I can give you. I know advice to freshmen is usually given by seniors. But here’s my take on it: seniors haven’t been freshmen for some time. They can’t remember it as well as a younger class because the last year they experienced was their junior year! The pieces of advice I have are fresh in my mind because I just lived it, and I remember it so very well, and I remember the things I wish someone had told me (or others around me). While from someone older, you would probably get more “inspirational” type advice, some of the things I will say are more practical than that.
Things I learned through trial and error, through watching my friends, through teaching others, and through standing in the freezing cold outside the dorm room after being evacuated for the fourth or so time because people don’t know how to use microwaves.
I’m not claiming to have better advice than someone older than me. I’m still learning too. So just consider this some advice from someone who was just in your shoes. Someone who wants the absolute best experience for you, because everyone deserves the best they can get from life. Someone who is rooting for you to succeed, and to be happy, and to love their freshman year as much as I did.
That being said, here are my pieces of advice to you:
1. Don’t use laundry detergent “pods” when washing clothes. They don’t wash properly and don’t get the clothes as clean as if you used liquid detergent. And yes, it does matter when it comes to getting your clothes clean.
2. On the subject of laundry, do your laundry at least once a week. Nothing is worse than having no clothes and a pile of dirty laundry making a big eyesore in your room.
3. Still on the subject of laundry: keep track of your laundry. Don’t leave it in longer than is necessary. Set a timer for when it is supposed to end and don’t put off going down to change it out. It’s frustrating going down to the laundry room and seeing clothes that are done and taking up room but haven’t been changed out yet. Don’t be that person. Please.
4. Make good friends. The people you spend your time with will be your family here at college. Choose wisely. Now is your chance to make the change you’ve been wanting to make in the company you keep. Don’t like the way someone treats you? Make it known to them. Don’t let people treat you like a doormat. Friends build you up and take care of you, not tear you down.
5. Always take your key with you to the showers. Even if your roommate says they’ll still be there when you get back, it can’t hurt to be extra safe because nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more embarrassing than having to wait until they get back while shivering in a towel and leaving wet shower shoe prints in the hall.
6. Popcorn does not count as a meal replacement. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Eat in the dining hall if you’re really hungry, or make real food. Popcorn is a delicious snack, but it is not a meal.
7. On that note, LEARN HOW TO MAKE POPCORN. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS. MAKE SURE YOU ENTERED THE CORRECT TIME ON THE MICROWAVE AND STAY THERE WHILE IT COOKS. DO NOT ABANDON YOUR POPCORN WHILE IT IS COOKING.
8. It is 100% okay to buy something simply because it makes you happy or because it sounds fun! For example, did I need a red light saber and fluffy bunny footsie pajamas? No, I did not. Did it make me extremely happy? Yes. Yes it did.
9. I really tried to let the microwave thing go but seriously guys learn the basics of using a microwave. Here’s some tips: never put anything in for 20 minutes, metal does not go in the microwave ever, and always add water to your mac and cheese.
10. If you miss your mom, call her. No matter what time of day it is where she is, call her. She will always answer and will not be mad that you called. Sometimes you just need your mom and that is okay.
11. No one else knows what they’re doing or has everything together. Especially if they act like they do. Truth be told, everyone is just as confused about how to be an adult as you are, and you’re all figuring it out together.
12. Enjoy the sunrise at least one time. Wake up at some awful hour of the morning with your friends, before even the sun is up, and sit and watch the sunrise together. It’s worth it.
13. Make at least somewhat healthy choices in the dining hall, for your own benefit. Your body will thank you.
14. Don’t be so afraid of the dreaded “freshman fifteen” that you never treat yourself. You want that cookie? Eat the cookie! You want a cup of cocoa because it’s -9 degrees outside? So do I, I’ll meet you at the cocoa machine!
15. Make a list of things you need when you go to the store. You will not remember everything you needed from memory alone.
16. Your teachers are for you, not against you. If you need help, talk to them.
17. You will see other people crying. Other people will see you crying. So just be nice to people, because you don’t know what is going on in their life. If you have chocolate on hand, offer it to them. It makes their day.
18. Don’t wear your lanyard around your neck. I made the mistake myself for the first month. It is the number one sure fire way to let people know you are a new freshman.
19. Don’t set your fridge too cold or your Cherry Dr. Pepper cans will explode…..not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything.
20. Eating by yourself is not looked down upon. Sometimes eating breakfast on your own is one of the most relaxing and stress relieving things you can do, to sit alone with yourself and enjoy your own company.
21. DOGS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER. If you have the chance to pet a dog, take the chance because dogs literally make everything better in an instant.
22. If you live far away (for example, California) the best thing to do to stave off homesickness is to stop thinking of school as school and home as home. You can have many homes. Think of school as your new home. The more you think of home as somewhere far away from you, the more homesick you will feel. Enjoy your time at school because in that moment, that is your home.
23. If you live nearby, take friends home who can’t go home. You will brighten their whole day or weekend or break by inviting them to go somewhere when they have nowhere to go.
24. Learn the difference between fabric softener and laundry detergent. Yes, there is a difference. Yes, it makes a difference in washing your clothes.
25. Sometimes the most faithful friends will be the ones you meet in the weirdest circumstances. The one you met at orientation that sat with you when you got sick from being so nervous, the one you really met because you were both singing in the shower to each other’s music, the one you became friends with because you complimented their style almost every day. Those are the best friends.
26. Black ice is terrifying, and you WILL slip at least once. Try and walk it off with some grace and dignity, it happens to the best of us.
27. Now that you are in college it is entirely socially acceptable to hang out with people past midnight regularly, and to order massive quantities of food past midnight together as well (Freshway is lifesaver).
28. Take advantage of school planned trips, and do it often.
29. This is your chance to completely reinvent yourself. To be yourself entirely. Don’t try and water yourself down to make other people happy. Be you. Completely, beautifully, unapologetically you.
30. Coloring book parties with your friends is literally one of the best stress relievers known to man.
31. It is going to be okay.
This is my advice to you. I hope it gives you a bit of a heads up before you join the rest of us here. I’m not that hard to find around campus, so if you need anymore sage words of wisdom I am here to hep!
I’ll see you around! Until then!