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    Tips to My Freshman Self: Reflecting on My College Career

    Hannah Dollinger

    I cannot believe I am a college graduate! I am a completely different person than I was when I first started college. College has changed me and given me experiences that have shaped me into who I am. If I could go back, I would tell my freshman self these tips:

    1. Don’t be scared to take risks. Talk to people you don’t know. Join clubs, even if you’re nervous or shy.
    2. Nobody cares. Nobody cares what you look like, if you don’t wear makeup today, if you don’t have your life together. Everybody is in the same boat and we’re all just trying to get through the day.
    3. Take care of yourself – mentally and physically. Do things you love to relieve stress and keep yourself happy. The Freshman 15 is real – exercise and get outside. Make time to read books and have a picnic or relax at a park. Treat yourself from time to time.
    4. It’s okay to not have your entire life figured out. I would always stress about not having every aspect of my life planned. Which graduate school should I go to? Where was I going to work after graduate school? When would I fit in marriage and a family? It will all work out, I promise.
    5. Things change and so will your plans. I always had a specific plan for my life: undergraduate, graduate school, marry my long-term boyfriend, become a clinical psychologist. However, when I realized I didn’t want to get my Ph.D., or when I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, my plans changed, and that was okay. It worked out in a better way. Even though my plans are totally different from what I thought would happen when I was a freshman, I’m so happy with the direction my life is heading.
    6. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say no to hanging out with someone or going out. It’s okay to not want to drink or do things you’re uncomfortable with.
    7. Study abroad if you get the opportunity. I had plenty of opportunities to study abroad and I finally did during my last semester of college, and it made me wish I had done it sooner. I got to go to London and I made some seriously amazing friends in the process.
    8. Take advantage of the amenities your school offers. I mean it. With only a few weeks left of school, I looked back and wished I had taken advantage of my school’s amenities. I wish I could continue using the gym for free. My gym had a rock-climbing wall and I am now realizing I have never used it. I wish I had taken more of the free classes at the rec center. My rec center (and so do many other universities) also offered cheap “outdoor adventures.” For example, my school offered a trip to the Grand Canyon for a week for only $200 and it included transportation there and back. Why did I find out about this only weeks before I graduated?
    9. Be nice to everyone. I mean everyone. This includes professors, students, classmates, co-workers, or even your Starbucks barista. There is always the potential to network with others, whether you’re aware of it or not. It’s a small world, and you never know who knows who. In a few years when you are looking for job opportunities or graduate school options, these connections can help you get the position you want.
    10. Never wish it away. I can’t count the times I wished I wasn’t in school or wished for the semester to just hurry up and end. I can’t count the number of times I have wished that graduation would hurry up and get here. Now that I’ve graduated, I wish I could go back.

    So, freshmen, sophomores, or even juniors – please take my advice! I wish someone would have told me these ten things before I graduated, and now I hope to help you and other students! Don’t look back at your college years with regret! Look for opportunities and experiences while you’re seeking your higher education!