No.1 Follow your heart

Nothing else could be number one in a list made by me. Everything I have shared with you, from practical tips and bitchy comments to moments of mistakes and successful decisions, well, all my stories have one thing in common.

Your college life will give you many options dear freshman, from choosing major to actually sticking to it. Or maybe finding the courage to say you were wrong, and starting all over again. Your college life will give you silly dilemmas, to stay in the library to study or go play water balloon fights with the rest of your friends whose finals are over. Your college life will bring you to paths that lead to different directions, from graduating on time or moving abroad for an internship.

You college life will bring you to moments of decision. What is right and what is wrong. And you might find yourself alone in these moments of question. Maybe everyone you love, mentors and friends, people with whom you share the journey will be against you. Because they love you and they can hear logic screaming GO THAT DIRECTION.

You know the decision is yours. And you know time flies. In every dilemma I have faced in the past years there was one question torturing my mind. Logic or heart? Clear direction or inner voice? Maybe logic sounds better for all questions. But is it? If you heart is mistaken you will seem immature and reckless. Wrong. You are brave. Dear freshman, it takes courage to follow your heart. And sometimes it will fail you. And it will suck. But don’t lose faith in it. Your mind is great and please don’t get me wrong, use it and it will lead you to good stuff.

But there will be moments and decisions when it is not enough. Because there are journeys only the heart can embark on. Enjoy the journey 😉

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No.2 Time flies

Yes it does. And this is why this post will be short. Clear message. Easy message. Catchy message. Honest message. I know you think four years are many. I know you believe this will be a long journey where time will pass slowly, as the semesters will seem endless and the summer break a dream in a land far far away. Blink your eyes dear freshman. Did you? College is over.

I still can’t figure out how this happened. I still remember the first day like it was yesterday. And then I think I have so many memories that it makes sense it took a significant amount of time to make. Who cares? It still feels so fast.

But that the way it is. Nothing to control here. Time will fly. And you will look around and wonder HOW??? There is one thing you can do dear freshman that will make this question feel bittersweet and not poisonous. Enjoy the moment. Know that it will be a memory before you notice. Don’t waste time. Don’t let your college life pass you by while you overthink. Instead go out there and live it.

And for the rest of us, that the moment is gone, oh well, if we played the game right, blinking eyes is such a journey of memories 😉

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No.3 Get involved in student life

Dear freshman, this is probably the most important tip I could share. And one I know pretty well from my college life. You already know I was messed up and you already know I somehow discovered myself. Actually not somehow, but through mentors, friends and mistakes. All of the above I found when playing around student life activities.

Why should you get involved? Its fun! Its actually the most fun you will have in the next years. You are doing fun stuff that you decide with your friends. And after a while you get so addicted to it, that you spend all day thinking about new things, more fun or more challenging. Where that leads? It leads to you thinking out of the box, it leads to developing new skills without even understanding it. Skills that will somehow fit to your resume and become brilliant answers in your first job interviews.

Because you will learn to follow and you will learn to lead. And they are both equally important. You will learn to raise your voice without fear and you will learn to listen. You will learn to accept what’s different. You will learn how to handle victory and you will learn how to handle failure. Most importantly, you will love your college for life. You won’t go back and look around remembering your A grades…

But you will remember shooting video clips for new students orientations, organizing festivals in the middle of the night, making popcorn for drive-in movies or winning student elections for the first time.

This is college dear freshman. This is the one thing you shouldn’t miss. Because it will change you and you won’t even notice. You will be busy having fun 😉

sabb

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No. 4 Help others

So, we are now at a point where I have really pointed out that you need to be open to change and open to people helping you get there. By now I hope you understand that it is the people that will make your college life a memory to cherish. When thinking of this post, I tried to look back at the years I spent at college, with the people I met and loved. What I once again came to realize is that the moments that made me happier where the ones I spent helping the people I love. It is extremely easy dear freshman to focus only on yourself and forget that were you are is because of people helping you.

And help can be translated in many different ways. First of all, you are definately good at something. Maybe it is basketball, or checking projects, or listening to people without judging. Whatever it is, there is something. Use your talents for other people as well. Another important way of help is sharing your mistakes. I know it is much easier to keep your mistakes for yourself, hidden in the deepest closet of your mind, trying to delete and move on. Oh well, we all know they somehow made you better. Maybe obviously, maybe subconsiously. The point is your mistakes will be your greatest lessons. Share what you learned the hard way with people. If they are meant to do the exact same thing they will. Despite your greatest efforts. But maybe they will learn through you, skip the sadness and move on in making brand new terrible mistakes that might end up saving you. You really never know how this will work out.

The point is dear freshman, when I look back I see that I was messed up and so where my friends. But some of my greatest college memories are their success stories. Take this advice. Be there for people. Try to give. Watch people you love succeed. Feel prood for them. It’s worth it 😉

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No. 5 Let people help you

I will explain immediately. When I started college I thought I had it all figured out. Who I was, why I was there, where I was heading and who I wanted to become. Oh well, little did I know. Everything I thought was if not wrong, debatable. But I couldn’t see it. I was too stubborn and slightly arrogant. I didn’t care what people had to say. As a matter of fact I don’t think I even cared to listen. After all, who could know me better than myself? Who could see potential in me, when I could not see it? Looking back, I think I was a bit messed up.

But I was also extremely lucky. Extremely lucky for the people that came into my life and fought to stay in it when I was at my worst. I met my mentor in the end of my freshman year. A person that truly changed my life. But when she came into my life, I didn’t care to listen. I didn’t think I needed to become a better person. I thought this is me and no one can change me. If she wasn’t more stubborn than me, and more crazy as a matter of fact, I would still be a spoiled, close-minded girl. But not all people are that patient.

So let people help you. Give them a try. And listen. Maybe they will have nothing important to say. But they might as well have. What letting her help me taught me is that true mentors don’t change you. They might not even know where you will end or who you are supposed to become. They just see something in you that maybe you are not ready to see. Or maybe it is one of those things that you can’t see yourself. The mirror is good at games dear freshman. It is people around you that will ask the right questions, challenge the right mistakes and give you the right opportunities. They will make the difference.

It is your journey. It is you that will discover who you really are. But trust me, you can’t do this alone 😉

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Roslyn Wagner, Jessica Hujber

No.6 Develop healthy habits you want to keep for life

Here is something I never did. But I should have. And you should as well. I will not repeat the whole story of how college is a new chapter, a new journey, a new life and all the sentimental allegories I have used before. You have read the previous tips,so you are now fully aware of the corny side. In a more practical mood, your college years are also the first years of your adult life. That my dear freshman is the best time for you to be healthy, active and fit.

Why? Well, first of all because you want to look great everyday as well as and in the pictures of your youth. Another reason should be because the easier way to stay healthy for the rest of your life is to develop habits that will follow you in the years to come. And yes, the temptations for junk food, alcohol and cigarettes will be many. I know. I went down that road. But look how I regretted it and I am now sharing advise towards the opposite.

Going to the gym or join a college team is fun. It can be part of your everyday life and it can be something you do with your friends. And everything you do with your friends will include so much laughter and motivation that the workout will be a delight. Eat healthy my dear freshman. You might already be too old for creating new eating habits… You have been eating a certain way for 18 years. This is probably your last good chance to change your diet and keep it that way. So, go ahead, give it try.

Last but not least are bad old habits. Here I can tell you my little success story. Dear freshman, in my junior year I quit smoking. Yes I did. And nobody could believe it. I need to admit I was a heavy smoker who never mentioned any desire to quit. But all it took was a decision and a friend’s true support when I felt weak.

So go ahead. Get rid of what you don’t like and start doing what feels right. Now is the time to create your best self 😉

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No. 7 It’s ok if your friendships change throughout the years

When starting college I had made a decision that I really didn’t need any new friends. I was sure that my life was complete and I would simply go to class,  get my work done and continue living with my friends from school. Common sense can lead to the conclusion that this wasn’t the case. After a while, it is a new life, that your old friends are simply observing, while the people you meet are experiencing the same thing as you. So, I surrendered to the fact that I liked the idea of making new friends. And then time passed. And some people stayed, while other faded away.

There are some friends that you keep because you feel that you started the journey together, that they are your first college friends. But you are now meeting more people that fit better to your personality and make you laugh more, and it simply makes more sense. I personally experienced this moment when I got really active in student life. I could no longer understand why go out with my friends from class, as all they wanted was to chill and drink coffee. I was busy 24/7, creating events, designing orientation day, baking thanksgiving pies and so many more stuff that could feel up the list.

So these friends were gone. But the hardest thing to understand was that even some of the friends I made through student life were not meant to be forever. And let me tell you, it was a shock. Because the memories I made with these people were great! And how could I keep the memory when the people I experienced it with where not worth it?

Well, I decided that this is how life goes. And one of the true lessons that college taught me is that some friends were not supposed to stay forever, and as a matter of fact there is no such thing as ”they were not worth it”. Maybe I was not worth it. Maybe be were all worth it all, but simply didn’t match. Because the ones who stayed, the ones I kept, these friends I now know will be for life 😉

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No 8. Enjoy your orientation day

Yes, you need to enjoy your orientation day. Unless it is one of those awfully boring orientations, where you spend all day listening to speeches about things you simply don’t understand. Don’t get me wrong, the boring speeches are part of the deal, and suprisingly enough they are also useful. But they definately will not and should not be what is left for you to remember when the day is over.

Your orientation day will be full of anxiety. You will feel lost and lonely. And that is absolutely normal. It is the first day of your new life. You are supposed to feel exposed and insecure. But that is the exact moment when magic happens. Forget your comfort zone. Let your feelings be part of the journey. And then breathe. Ok, enough with the emotional rollercoaster. Its time to have fun.

Your orientation day will have a significant amount of embarassing moments. It will start with you having a name tag on your shirt and sitting in circles with strangers, who will be asked to clap every time you say something. And that is not all dear freashman. You will be strongly encouraged to participate in  games called ”ice-breaking activities” that involve dance, songs, questions, answers, drawins and even toilet paper. Are you freaking out? I told you it will be embarassing. So there you are. In the circle, wearing your name tag, wandering why you woke up this morning. And you are asked to join the games.

Right now you have a choice. You can choose to be the cool kid, the rebel, the one that laughs at this stupidity and walk away. And you can do the absolutely crazy thing and be part of the embarassement parade. Let me tell you a secret. This is college. This is the world of grown-ups. The cool kid at school is not cool here. Here you need to let your self try, fail and laugh about it. Here you need to understand that all pieces need to be messed up before finding their right fit.

And you know what is the coolest part? You are not alone at all. Look around you. Everyone is feeling the same. Everyone is making the exact same decision right now. Somewhere in these circles you will soon find some of the most important people of you life. Breathe. Smile 😉

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No 9. Don’t be afraid to take many classes

You probably think that you should take it easy on the first year or two. You are still young and inexperienced, why push yourself with many courses and risk getting lower grades? Well, that’s an acceptable thought that crossed every mind of college students. But no. You shouldn’t take it easy and I will soon explain why. But before I do that, let me make another quick point.

Academic advising. Something you should always do. No ifs, no buts, no thoughts, no comments. It is the only way you will keep track of your studies and by default your academic future, when electives, prerequisites, dual degrees and academic committees cross your way. I am obsessed with academic advising and I will fight for it no matter what. But dear freshman, no good comes without evil. Academic advising is there to advise you, not make the decisions for you. And they tend to pamper you. They tend to treat you like a delicate flower ready to break under the pressure of four courses per semester.

You are not a delicate flower and you will definitely not break under the pressure. You are a college student thriving for success. You are a brand new you, ready to set high goals and exceed what you thought would be your limits. And please let me comment that studying for four courses should not be your limit…

But why take many courses from day one? Because it will open new doors. Because you will prepare yourself for years to come, where multitasking between a career, a hobby and a life will be necessary. But also for more practical reasons. Because college is fun for a specific amount of time. You seriously don’t want to end up spending six years at college, just because you took it easy for a couple of years. Your friends will be gone, your courses will seem endless and you will feel extremely old, sad and lonely in what used to be heaven.

Last but not least, take many courses because you don’t know the different opportunities that will come to you in the next few years. You might get an internship abroad or be offered a full time job. You shouldn’t ever have to turn down new challenges because you have too many courses left to graduate. You senior year at college might be a completely different experience than what you are now thinking. Accept the challenge. Keep the door open 😉

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No.10 Yes, your grades matter from day one…

OK. I know it might sound obvious and you think I am a complete idiot for even mentioning it. Well, theory from life tend to differ. Of course you start college completely sure that your GPA will be something between 3.7 and 4.0. Because the library is amazing and you have all these great labs, and facilities and books and iPads. And of course you are now a mature individual who will start fresh, build a new life, delete the mistakes of the past. Yes, I know that you will be 100% organized, studying regularly throughout the week, sometimes even being ahead of the course outline! When finals come, you will be so well prepared that a simple fresh-up of your memory will lead you straight to your A. I know you know you will be that amazing student that no longer waits for last-minute submissions and is looking cool before any exam, not because you know absolutely nothing, but because you know it all.

Sounds like a plan you think. And then life comes.And your first courses are general education and you really don’t care that much. It isn’t even that hard. You will catch up next week. Or next month that the weather will be worst and you will be able to focus more. Or a couple of weeks before the final. After all you didn’t sign up for this. You are here for Accounting & Finance, who cares about Art History??

Well, unfortunately you should care. Most importantly because you will become a well-rounded educated individual, but I won’t focus there. You should care because if you don’t, your dreamy GPA will soon be a far gone dream. Yes, sadly every grade and every mistake you make during college will be remembered until the finale.Yes, even the ones of your first semester. I know, its not fair. Oh well, life isn’t fair my dear freshman. Your GPA will most likely not be a 4.0 and hopefully you will smile about that. But seriously, don’t lose grades from courses that are meant to be your booster. Start today. After all, you thought it yourself. It isn’t that hard.

Trust me, as this countdown goes on, you will come to realize, as I did, that there are far more fun reasons worth becoming the mistakes of your college life 😉

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