10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman in College: Advice from a Graduate Student
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
1. The things that you like or want on day one might not be the things you need.
The new student you met at orientation might not end up being your best friend. The major you started with might not be your major a few months in. The job you are working at might not end up being a good fit. The person you are dating might not be who you are going to marry and that’s okay. College is the time in your life when you should make mistakes and try as many things as you want until you find what is going to stick.
2. Call on your superheroes.
Not all superheroes wear capes and you will find a team of Avengers among the faculty and staff at Meredith. Every professor you have wants you to succeed (if they don’t, then they aren’t doing their job) and you are going to find teachers who you know you can rely on. We have amazing staff at the counseling center who are here to provide students with free and effective mental-health care. The Learning Center serves to make sure students are getting as much as possible out of the classes they are taking. Disability Support Services provides equity to students with physical and learning differences. Campus Security confirms the physical safety of a student and is a phone call away at all times. You have a staff at Meredith who is going to support you and help you find your path use them. If you reach out these superheroes are going to be there to help you and save the day. These are superheroes who are going to outlast your four years at Meredith and be on your team for years to come.
3. Pretty much anything counts as a cultural event.
The idea of a “Cultural Event” was super confusing to me at first because the concept seemed so broad, yet so important, since you need them to graduate. Truthfully, a cultural event is any time you see a play, dance recital, speaker, concert, art gallery, museum event, or any slightly educational event that you attended over the four years you are at Meredith. Cultural events don’t necessarily have to be on campus or even in Raleigh (the ones I submitted were from my time studying abroad). Cultural Events are a really good excuse to go try something new and get out of the Meredith bubble for an hour or two.
4. The Corn Gods will not curse you for not participating.
I didn’t participate in Corn until my senior year (Go reigning champs, 2019!) and for years I felt super jealous of all my friends who had more time or energy to participate in Corn than I did. I also felt all this pressure as if I wasn’t a good Meredith student if I didn’t participate in Corn. Corn isn’t going anywhere and you can still buy the t-shirt, even if you aren’t participating. Cornhuskin’ is super fun, but also super stressful. If it’s not for you, then there is no shame in that. You have four years to participate in Cornhuskin’, so maybe you just want to watch this year, or take a year off; you aren’t a bad Meredith student if you aren’t participating in Corn.
5. Take care of yourself first.
Are you having a panic attack? I’ll let you in on a little secret: you aren’t the only one. Here is some advice that people don’t want you to know: don’t go to class! No shame, no guilt. I’m not saying skip eight days of class in a row, but if you need a day, take a day. Email your professor and tell them something came up; nine times out of ten they will completely understand and appreciate the heads-up. Ask a classmate to take notes for you and warn any groups you are in you won’t be there. Drop in with one of our amazing staff at the counseling center and see how they can help. Check out our amazing new fitness center or make an appointment with the learning center and catch up on work. Take the wolf line to Cameron village or Pullen Park or just go walk around the mall until you feel sane. Go take a nap because you know you need one. Take care of yourself because you aren’t getting anything out of a class you can’t be present for. You will make it through this so long as you take care of yourself, I promise.
6. Take advantage of that cam card discount!
Feeling poor yet? I learned fast that college is challenging: not only challenging on your mind, but also on your wallet. Luckily, a lot of companies know this as well. Don’t have Amazon Prime, Apple Music or Spotify? Now they are only five dollars a mouth. What else do you like? Because I guarantee there is a student discount for it. Cinemas, museums and theatres have student tickets for significantly cheeper. Software and tech companies like Dell, Microsoft and Apple all have student discounts. Off-campus gyms, yoga and dance studios have student memberships. You can ger 15% off at Kate Spade, Lilly Pulitzer and ModCloth to get ready for your next Meredith tradition. You can also get discounts on essentials from celullar providers and insurance firms. Late-night snacks are no match to the 10% off you get at McDonalds and Chick- Fil- A. Make sure you are taking your Cam Card on spring break; you can even use your student discount when you are out of town. Tourist traps like Madame Tussauds or Ripley’s Believe It or Not often give student discounts. Your cam card is like your superpower: flash it every time you get into your wallet, and it will pay off in the long run.
7. Fuel Your Body!
Belk Dining Hall, The Bee Hive Café and the new Food for Thought station in the Library are all amazing options to make sure you are grabbing at least a (marginally) healthy snack to fuel your body. Just like a car, your body needs fuel to run; if you aren’t getting enough food, your body is going to crash and burn out of nowhere. This doesn’t mean you need to be eating salads and lean meat for every meal, there is no shame in midnight Insomnia Cookies and Dominos, but humans can not live off Dominos alone. If you are bored with your options on campus then Whole Foods, Lucky Tree, Brick House, Bean Sprouts and Jasmine are just a walk away. This goes back to making sure you are taking care of yourself, you aren’t doing your best work if you aren’t in your best shape.
8. Call your parents more.
They just want to hear your voice and know how you are doing. If you are thriving they want to celebrate you and if you aren’t then they want to help you fix it. Just let them know how you are and what they can do to help and support you, 9/10 they are going to be happy just to have some insight into your life.
9. FOMO Won’t last.
You are two weeks into class and everything seems so cool and amazing and new, and you are wondering how anyone fits all of these events into their planner. The trick? They don’t. Learning how/when to say no is one of the hardest lessons I learned during my time at college. Especially my freshman year. I said yes to so many clubs/projects/events that took up my time and stressed me out just because I was so worried that I was going to miss something. Say No! there are no consequences for saying no. It’s just going to make the events you say yes to more special.
10. There is no shame in failure!
Give yourself a break. You are a freshman in college, no one is expecting you to have it all figured out. Fail that class! Get a C on that paper! Drop that major! Ditch that friend! Make mistakes, this is your time to figure out who you are and what you want. And that means trying things that don’t quite work out. Be fearless in messing up, you won’t be the first college student to so and you won’t be the last.
By Hannah Davis Johns, Staff Writer