I wrote this for The Appalachian a year ago today. Three-hundred and sixty-five days later, I’m sitting at my desk at work both happy to be here and missing college fiercely, especially those brand-new days at the beginning of a semester.

I’ll always believe that going to a university you love — one that feels like home for you — is one of the best decisions you can make. And it’s worth sacrificing other things to get there, if that’s what it takes.

Freshmen: College won’t be what you expected

To the freshmen walking through campus, with your lanyards and your campus maps, with your dorm keys and your State Farm cars, with your fresh AppCards and your brand-new lives…I have something to tell you about college.

It won’t be what you expected.

It will take a while to find people who matter to you. You might not find it in your dorm, or your classes, or your Hardin Street bar of choice. You might not find it until second semester, or sophomore year, or some other random time and place. But when you find it, you’ll know, and it’ll be more like home than anything you’ve ever experienced.

Classes will be harder than you think or easier than you think. You’ll hate your major when you thought it was your passion. You’ll change career paths a thousand times. You’ll wake up one day a junior who still doesn’t know what they want to do. But eventually, you’ll decide who you want to be. It just takes some living before you figure it out.

You won’t find your place or your niche right away. You’ll try a few wrong things before you find the right one, and that will hurt. But you’ll stumble into the right place, and you’ll walk past people from the clubs and jobs and organizations that didn’t fit and you’ll think, If only you knew how happy I am now.

College will not erase hard times or bad times. It’s a blast, but it’s not always a blast. You will cry in your extra-long twin bed at least once. You’ll argue. You’ll get lost. You will absolutely want to drop out. Don’t. Give it a chance. Give it ten chances.

Four years later, you will not be the person you were or the person you thought you’d be. You’ll have new friends and new habits and some of the old things, well, they won’t make the cut. You will feel stronger and disturbingly older. You will know yourself better and hopefully like yourself a little more.

It won’t be what you expected.

It’ll be more.

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