You're not in high school anymore: Madison Beam

Thursday, August 7, 2014

You are finally here. You are a college freshman. It is what you have dreamed about since you were old enough to know what college is. You survived the more than rough four years of high school (congratulations, by the way.) You have survived the application process and, most importantly, you got accepted. You have enrolled in classes and spent your life savings on books for a single semester. So what happens next?

The truth is that the transition from high school to college can be hard for anyone. To be honest, I personally wish that I had understood it better and handled it with much more grace. Being the strong-willed and independent person that I am, however, I thought I had it all figured out and did not need any of the endless advice my elders had to offer. In one ear and out of the other was the typical pattern. Get involved, go to class, get to know your professors, I heard it all. I am sure you have received your fair share of guidance from friends and family already. Since we are friends now, here is mine. Just a few important things that I really wish someone would have told me before my first day.

First of all, remember that you are not in high school anymore. This is the hardest part. No one cares what you were like in high school and you just have to accept that. No one cares that you were the valedictorian of your class of four people. No one cares that you threw the sickest parties in all of Washington County. If you stay too attached to your high school experience, you will inevitably not be open to everything that college has to offer. Start fresh and do not be afraid to try new things. Do not fear making new friends either; they can be one of your best tools in this new adventure.

The next thing is that you should definitely live in the residence halls your first year if you can. Every one repeatedly told me this, but I was still convinced I would have much more fun in my own place, with my own rules. I ended up living in Sparks my first semester and it was more fun than I could ever have imagined. The next semester I moved to Lawson and that was even more of a fun time. The rules are not that bad. Listen to me when I say, whatever you do, make it a point to not get in trouble with Bo, the resident director. If you do, he will make you do five long hours community service which, if you are as lucky as my roommate and I, involves cleaning up after the nastiest of college boys. Having a party with all your friends is a great memory, but you will have to decide for yourself whether it is worth it or not. Living in the residence halls gave me no option but to be much, much more social than if I had lived off campus. I was involved in a lot of really cool things that I would not have been had I lived somewhere else.

This is the last but most important piece of advice that I can give you: ALWAYS, always, always back up your files. Technology is not to be trusted. It will betray you at some point, and most likely that point will be right in the middle of your 15 page research paper. Dropbox makes this as easy as can be. Do it for every assignment and do not delete it until the class is over. It will save you lots of tears and countless hours of wasted time.

The truth is that you will survive and learn a lot along the way. The good times will heavily outweigh the bad times and you will be just fine. I believe in you, but most importantly I hope that you believe in yourself. You got this.