The first day of college is thrilling. You’ve got your bags packed, your mind ready, and at least a few ideas about your first dorm room (hint: it will probably not be as cute as what you saw on Pinterest).
But it’s also an overwhelming and emotional time. Saying goodbye to your family; starting a new life, away from your friends; and living, sometimes, in a totally new environment can all be challenging. It’s a balancing act that almost every single freshman around you is facing. So if you’re dealing with that jumble of excitement and emotion today, here’s what I want to tell you: the five things freshman girls need to hear on their first day.
1. It’s okay to be homesick.
Coming to college and missing home may make you feel like you’re being childish. That’s not the case at all! You’ve lived at home for years; it’s completely normal to miss your friends, your parents, or the comfort of your own bed. Don’t push those feelings away or feel ashamed of them. Instead, try acknowledging what you feel and seeing whether you can use those feelings to connect with someone else who may be in the same boat: your roommate, someone on your floor, or someone at an orientation event!
2. Everyone around you is in the same boat.
It’s easy to feel that you are the only one who is sometimes lonely or overwhelmed. Or maybe you feel like everyone around you is missing home, while you just want to go out and have fun! In either case, know that there are people around you who feel just like you do. The freshmen around you are all in the same boat. This is also their first day, and they’re just as excited and nervous as you are! You are not alone.
3. Push yourself to step out of your comfort zone (but not too far).
One of the great things about college is the number of opportunities and events that are available to you. Aiko? Dance troup? Debate team? It’s all there! In your first few weeks of college, do your best to open yourself to those activities and try as many new things as you want. It’s a great way to meet new people and make awesome memories!
At the same, be safe. If you don’t feel ready for something, or if something goes against your values or religious beliefs, don’t feel that you need to do that thing to be “cool” or accepted. With time, you will find people who encourage you to expand your horizons but accept your limits. In the meantime, be that person for yourself!
4. The staff and professors want to see you succeed.
Your college or university has RAs, student help services, and academic resources that are all in place to help you! The professors, professional staff, and residential assistants want you to succeed. If you need something, don’t be afraid to reach out. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no, and the best thing that can happen is that they offer you resources or help that will get you where you need to go. They want to help, so don’t be afraid to ask!
5. You’ve got this, friend.
Whether you’re chomping at the bit to start your college years, or you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to go home, know that you’ve got this. These years will be challenging, but they will also help you grow and learn beyond what you can even imagine now. You can handle both the challenges and the growth. You were chosen to come to this college because the board of admissions knew you could do it, and they wanted you to join this community. So ignore any naysayers or doubts in the back of your mind. You’ve totally got this.
If you’re looking for resources to help you manage your college years, The Young Hopeful is a great place to start. You can also check out my college help site, College Compass, or my blog, Sara Laughed.
What advice do you have for college freshmen? What do you wish you’d heard on your first day?
Sara is the founder of College Compass, a senior at Wellesley College, and an alumna of the Visiting Student Programme at Oxford University. She runs the popular blog Sara Laughed and writes devotional art studies for her Bible journaling site, Seasons Illustrated. Her greatest aspiration is to live a creative life fueled by love and coffee. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @SaraLaughed.