It’s Emily here. True fact: Everyone is a little bit terrified when they first come to college. No matter how desperate you are to escape your hometown, or how eager you are to be a college kid (and partake of all that the title entails), the subtle knot of apprehension is going to catch you every once in a while. My first piece of unsolicited advice: be okay with being a little unsure, and take comfort in the fact that your classmates are by and large dealing with similar uncertainty. More unsolicited advice follows–some of the things I wish I’d known before I began my freshman year.
You may be able to reinvent yourself in college, but you can’t become someone else. I was convinced when I came to TU that I could rebrand my geeky self into an outgoing social butterfly. While I’m really glad that I managed to force myself to meet and really engage with lots of people during the first couple of months of school, I was much happier when I assembled a group of close, similarly geeky friends.
If you want to get involved in research, speak up now! The earlier you get involved with research, the more freedom you are likely to have to pursue what really interests you. Getting involved with research early also helps you build relationships with your professors and connect you with upperclassmen in your department. Approaching a professor to talk about research can be intimidating, but most professors will be thrilled that you’re interested. Then it’s up to you to do the work.
Getting good grades is important, but so is being happy. I decided when I came to college that I was going to work hard and come as close to a 4.0 as I could. While at some level this was a noble goal, it also led me to tie my sense of self to my gpa. Not good. It took a long time, but I finally learned how to do well academically and do the things that keep me sane. Huge tip: get off campus sometimes. It’ll help you feel like part of the community instead of like a resident of the bizarre alternate reality often referred to as “college”.
Be wrong sometimes. Over the next four years, what and how you think about the world are apt to change. This is a good thing. I am not the girl I was 4 years ago. Hell, I’m not the girl I was 6 months ago. I’m grateful for the change. I’m grateful for the people and books and situations that have highlighted my mistakes and shortcomings, because it is through these realizations that I have been able to grow. And that’s what college is really for, anyway.
So, welcome. Work hard. Be wrong. And certainly don’t always eschew unsolicited advice from shady characters you’ve never met.
It’s Emily here. Tomorrow I will take my place in the passenger seat of a rental SUV and make for the coast. My good friend (and ex-boyfriend) got a job in San Francisco and starts work on Monday. I volunteered to go along to make the 20+ hour trip a little less lonely, and to take in a landscape these eastern eyes have seldom seen.
I’m just a tiny bit grouchy about this whole exciting undertaking for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t think I’ll be allowed to drive the car at all, since the rental car people don’t like that both my friend and I are under 25. How one 22 year old driving almost 2,000 miles alone is somehow safer than splitting that driving with a 21 year old is baffling. I happen to be a champion at long-distance driving. I once drove for 6 hours without stopping. I’m going to go nuts in the passenger seat, so if I post a batty entry from someplace in the southwest, you now know why.
The other reason: I failed to acquire the requisite cowboy hat, so now all of my picture from the road are going to be just a bit less awesome than they would have been otherwise. Sorry.
Despite my banishment to the right side of the vehicle, I’m looking forward to this trip. The last several days of packing and preparing (did I mention that this friend/ex is also my roommate? Do not recommend.) have been stressful, but tomorrow night I’ll be in Albuquerque. Hooray for cities with two Q’s! By Friday I’ll be in San Francisco, where the daily highs are in the 60s and vegan options abound. I also plan to listen to The Disappearing Spoon audiobook. It’s basically a collection of true stories centered around the periodic table.
The feeling when it finally rained. It was still 110 degrees outside, but that sure didn’t stop me from reaching for rain drops.
The arrival of new textbooks. Suddenly, I understand that my senior year of college is about to begin. I made it.
If you’re wondering what the orange stickers are all about, wonder no more. Roll on over to Chegg and never get ripped off on books again. And the company plants a tree each time you rent!
I’m also giddy because: my mom got a job she really wanted, my brothers are happy and healthy, one of my best friends just got incredible news, and another friend made me delicious vegan dinner (and dessert) earlier this week. My life may never be perfect, but it is so good.
As you all prepare to come to TU for the first time or the thousandth, I hope the goodness of your lives genuinely amazes you.
And now, because Vampire Weekend also makes me giddy, your song of the day:
Lay out all of your info on a separate Word doc. List every single thing and then put them in the order of importance.” You can only include your top 10 activities on the Common App, you can put any extra clubs or sports in the Additional Info section to be sure that colleges know all they can about you.
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Where to find help if the college search feels overwhelming