7 Things I Wish I Knew As a College Freshman

Dear Danielle,

It doesn’t feel like I am about to start my senior year of college and you’re about to begin your time at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, but here we are. It seems like it was only five minutes ago that we were calling you “Crazy Danielle” and playing “Sleeping Baby Angels” with my brother, and now we’re both beginning huge college milestones. I am so unbelievably excited for you to begin this next phase of your life.

When I was preparing to move into the University of Delaware for the first time, I was anything but excited. I am not always great at preparing for the unknown, and there were so many questions that I could not find the answers to as I made the adjustment from high school to college life. Luckily, you’ve got the support of family, friends, and your super cool cousin who can (hopefully) offer some wisdom on what I wish someone had told eighteen-year-old me.

1. Stay Organized

I mean this in every way possible: your dorm room, your class schedule, your activities and commitments. It is so easy to leave your room messy and to put off that paper until 2:30 in the morning, or to overbook yourself way too many times. Keep track of everything, and keep your room clean. It will relieve stress, keep your roommate happy, and make room for your mind to tackle the more pressing issues.

college freshman
Me, in a rare moment of a clean dorm room

2. Try New Things

I signed up for pretty much every single activity at my UD’s Activities Night: partially because I was interested, but mostly because they had free candy. While I still get emails for Tae Kwon Do club and Humans Versus Zombies meetings I most definitely do not attend, I also exposed myself to interests that were never on my radar before college. Joining the Student Television Network on a whim ultimately led to my major in Communications, which eventually got me to social media- and the rest is history.

college freshman
Oh look, there I am anchoring the UD Homecoming Game freshman year! I enjoyed the talking more than I enjoyed the news, whoops.

3. Forget the others and focus on yourself

Speaking of the Student Television Network…I slowly realized that I was not interested in broadcast journalism, but I was afraid to leave this club because this was what people expected me to continue doing. I took a big risk by leaving that club to join the Public Relations Student Society of America, but I knew I had to focus on what made me happy instead of others. Never be afraid to let go of one dream to pursue another; college is the time to focus on you and what will bring you the most joy.

4. No, You Do Not Need One More Drink

I am not going to write this blog and not acknowledge the presence of alcohol on college campuses. Have fun in college, my dear cousin, but have fun responsibly. You never want to be the girl that can’t carry herself straight or who throws up six times in one night. Have fun, but have your wits about you and I promise your nights will be ten times better. AND DO NOT POSTS PICTURES OF YOU WITH ALCOHOL ON SOCIAL MEDIA. EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING AT YOUR INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK. LISTEN TO YOUR SOCIAL-MEDIA STRATEGIST COUSIN.

5. You Also Do Not Need the Midnight Dominos Pizza

college freshman
Red velvet pancakes for breakfast…let’s just not do that, okay?

See, I know this won’t be a problem for my super-fit and super-smart cousin, but I need to say it regardless: it can be so, so easy to completely disregard your health in college. Make your health a priority from the get-go and stick to it. When you exercise regularly, get a decent amount of sleep, and do not opt in for the midnight Domino’s run, your body and mind will thank you. Take it from the girl who ate at least 2 giant cupcakes a week during the fall semester of freshman year. Never again.

6. Relationships Will Change, and That’s Okay

 

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If you’re lucky, you get those amazing friends from high school that you’ll have forever.

Friendships will fade while others grow stronger. Your best friend in high school might become a totally different person in college. You’ll fall in and out of love and might even learn what it’s like to have a broken heart. This might sound insanely cliché, but I really believe people come in and out of our lives for a reason. As long as you surround yourself with people who only lift you higher and trust the process, you will end up with the people who matter the most.

7. Finally, breathe.

Once again, insert cliché here: you have no idea how fast this goes. College is an amazing, disastrous, heart-wrenching, eye-opening, thrilling, soul-searching time that you will never get back. Remember to look around every once in a while and remind yourself that you are here. And being here is a pretty incredible thing, no matter the circumstances.

college freshman
Freshman year “ball” with my favorite humans. A night I’ll never forget.

I cannot wait to hear about all of your amazing adventures! Please remember to keep me updated, and know if you ever need me I am a phone call away. Good luck, my cousin!

Love always,

Paxton

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