To My ’23 Grad: 23 Ways to Embrace Opportunity and Grow in College

Editor’s note: We are so proud of all of this year’s graduates, and we loved this list of ways to embrace your first year of college. So, caps off to all the graduates, and we can’t wait to see what you do next.

college student moving in

23 Ways to Embrace the First Year of College

  1. Say yes. Say yes when a friend asks you if you want to go to dinner. Say yes, when that guy from your class asks if you want to go to the weekend concert. Say yes to trying new things with new people. Get out of your comfort zone. College goes by quickly. Take advantage of all it offers.
  2. Go to class. This seems simple, but so much in life is about showing up.
  3. Get to know your professors. Go to their office hours to ask questions or just chat. They are there for you and want you to succeed.
  4. Drink water. Fill your water bottle and take it with you.
  5. Take some classes that interest you. Not just for your major or minor. Take an archeology class. Study sociology or a period in art history. Learn for the sake of learning. You’ll be a more interesting person.
  6. Eat something green.
  7. Study abroad if you can. Sometimes you need to step back to see what’s really going on. This applies to art, to self, and your country.
  8. Get enough sleep.
  9. Get involved. Join a club. Volunteer. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. You and our world will be better for it.
  10. Play. Put your phone down. Go outside. Go out to the quad and throw a frisbee. Ride a bike. Join a club that will get you moving. Have a snowball fight. You’re still a kid. Act like it.
  11. Be a good roommate. It would be awesome if you were friends with your roommate, but that doesn’t always happen. Be polite. Be respectful of their space and time.
  12. Do your laundry. This means sheets and towels too.
  13. Meet new people. Put yourself out there. Ask questions. And listen. People want to talk. Make it easy — Where are you from? What’s your major? Why did you pick this school?
  14. You have privilege. Remember that. Use it to help others. Make sure everyone has a voice, and a seat at the table.
  15. It won’t always be easy. Classes will be challenging. You’ll fail a test or forget to turn in a paper. You might miss home. It’s ok to be sad. Maybe college will be amazing right away. Maybe it will take time to adjust and settle in. That’s ok, and it’s normal. Reach out when you’re feeling overwhelmed. To your family, a friend, or a counselor. People are here to help you through.
  16. Remember your manners. Hold doors. Say thank you to your professors, to the cafeteria staff, and to the custodian. Push your chair in. Clean up after yourself. Kindness is free. Spread it like confetti.
  17. Notice the little things. That’s where the magic lives. The first flower buds in spring. The shine of a beetle’s shell. Life is made of tiny moments tucked in between the big.
  18. Ask for help. You aren’t expected to know everything. College is about learning. Your school has tutors and a writing lab. Use them. There’s strength in learning when you need help.
  19. Stand up straight. Take up space. You are worthy. Believe in yourself.
  20. Call your mom. Text your dad. Send your sibling that ridiculous meme you just saw. We miss you.
  21. Love big and love loudly. Give hugs. Give compliments.
  22. Life is beautiful and horrible and beautiful all over again. Sometimes you need to hold on. Sometimes you need to let go. You’ll learn the difference. You’ll grow. You’ll change. Be gentle with others. Be gentle with yourself.
  23. Know that we are so proud of you. For what you’ve done, yes. But also for who you are and who you are becoming. Since you were born, we’ve delighted in your wisdom, humor, and love. That will never change. We will always be your home.

More Great Reading:

12 Things Every Student Should Do in Their Freshman Year of College 

About Katherine Stephenson

Katherine Stephenson lives in Nashville with her husband, two teens, and Frieda, the dog.

Read more posts by Katherine

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