I’m currently trying to accept the fact that final exams are looming and am amazed by how fast my freshman year of college has gone by. Honestly, I’m still in shock at how quickly the years of high school went. High school and living at home were so comfortable and I was nervous to leave it all for someplace totally new. But as this year winds down I realize that I’ve learned a few things that can make the transition to college easier:
1.Thank your teachers
By the time graduation rolls around you may feel like you’re so done with high school but it’s important to leave on a good note. When you’re back from college for the first time, whether on fall break or home for Christmas, your friends may want to visit your high school and you don’t want to miss out on that experience because you feel like you can’t show your face in your old hallways. “Thank you” is always appreciated and you never know when you might need a reference or advice.
2. Meet everyone you can
Once you find out where you’re going in the fall, people will be so excited to tell you they have a neighbor or camp friend going to the same college. It may seem pointless and random, but go ahead and meet them. Send them a Facebook message; it’s quick and easy and, during your first week of classes, it won’t hurt to have someone to get lunch with when you can barely navigate your way through the dining hall. There’s really no downside.
3. Prepare for being on your own
Everyone talks about how great the independence of college is, and it is. But at the same time there are certain things you need to figure out yourself. Things like your nutrition, exercise and time management are now entirely up to you. At college no one will be there to stop you from watching your seventh consecutive episode of Law and Order: SVU on Netflix. It’s best to start figuring things out at home so by the time you’re in a totally new environment it’s less of a shock. That means adopting beneficial habits, like an exercise routine and self-control for how much Netflix is too much.
4. Show your high school friends how much they mean to you
It’s basically a cardinal rule that high school is dramatic, so thank them for being by your side and celebrate making it through the ups and downs, the “proma” and college decisions. Exchange gifts, make a photo album together or just write a card to show that you value their friendship. Staying in touch once you get to college is hard and you may not keep up with all of your friends. When you’re no longer spending at least eight hours together, five days a week, things will change. Without high school anchoring your friendship, you need to put in the effort to stay close with those who really matter to you, even as you move away.
5. Spend time with your family
As a senior you want to spend as much time before you go with your friends and it’s hard to balance both friends and family. But remember, you’re leaving your family, too, and when you are homesick in your dorm room for the first time, you’re going to miss a hug from your dad and your favorite dinner that your mom cooks for your birthday. And in case you didn’t realize, your family is also going through a major change, and they will probably miss you a little bit too.
Ultimately, what you make of your last months at home and first months at college is up to you. There is no single correct way to pursue your future goals so be open to change and new experiences. It’s okay to feel like you have no clue what you’re doing; we’re all trying to figure it out as we go and pass along any wisdom we’ve learned through both mistakes and triumphs.