The only thing that sucks more than growing pains is not growing at all. Being stuck in a rut in college is just plain BLEH. The worst part is you don’t really know anyone, you’re out on your own for the first time, so you kind of have to find your way alone (which is what makes coming out the other side super awesome).
My freshman year of college was a nightmare because I didn’t keep my options opened and settled for what was right in front of me.
College Freshman Rule #1: Don’t Hang Out With The People On Your Floor
Unless you actually like them. We were in the basement of the dorm, on an all-girl floor, completely isolated in an anti-social dungeon. Some girls might think, just go upstairs–those girls are smarter than I was. Instead of branching out and finding people I could really vibe with, I just hung out with whoever was in close proximity because it was easiest. The people I hung out with did too. It only took a semester to realize none of us really liked each other that much. Let’s just say I was in a “bad mood” for ten months.
College Freshman Rule #2: What You Were Good At In High School May Not Be What You Want To Study In College
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of your own traditions. I was great in AP English, so I figured I would be a lit major in college. You should explore what you’re good at, but college offers you a WIDE variety of subjects, interests, and clubs to find out what else you’re good at and love. Studying lit just wasn’t thrilling in college and I even felt guilty about it, I even thought that I couldn’t be a writer if I didn’t enjoy reading Herman Melville. Then I took a class called “Theorizing Popular Culture” as an elective and realized that I what I really wanted to write about was television, celebrities, movies, and music–and later on I realized I was interested in how those things affect women. I never would have discovered I could combine my interests if I hadn’t gone off the beaten path.
College Freshman Rule #3: Your Academic Adviser Doesn’t Actually Know You
My first college adviser taught Middle Eastern Studies. I was interested in writing and learning more about media studies. I still don’t know why we were paired. The first thing he said to me, “You want to be a writer? Well remember everyone will always see you as a Black writer.” When I told him I was actually Hispanic (and that telling me that is narrow-minded and insulting) it got awkward. He then insisted I take Middle Eastern studies classes, which, sure, they might have been valuable but didn’t really answer my question, “How can I combine my interest in writing with something like pop-culture, which I am not even sure I can actually study?” Every time I’d see him, I’d have to remind him of who I was, what my major was, and what I wanted to do. If he didn’t know me, how was he really going to help guide me? It wasn’t until my senior year when I realized what should have been painfully obvious. I changed my adviser to a professor I actually liked, who I had taken a class with, who knew the answers to all my anxiety-ridden questions.
Remember, ladies, your life is in YOUR hands. If you just settle for what’s easiest you’re missing out on fun, opportunities, and good friends.
Are you nervous about going to college? Let us know in the comments!