Dear Rollins College Class of 2025,
I started my college experience online at Florida State University (FSU) in Fall 2020 as a psychology major.
I planned to graduate within three years, go to graduate school, get my doctorate, and become a clinical psychologist. Now, I’m a political science major and a psychology and English double minor at Rollins.
The unique ability to start my college career twice gave me some pretty eye-opening experiences that every incoming freshman should know.
First, everyone is as nervous as you are. Going to FSU for three weeks got my nerves out of my system, and by the time I arrived at Rollins, I realized no one cares.
College students are self-absorbed, and I mean this in the best way possible. You could screw up, embarrass yourself in front of the entire freshman class, and no one would notice because they’re too worried about screwing up themselves.
Second, don’t worry about those horror stories you read online about the social aspect of the freshman experience. In my first two days at Rollins, I met more people than I did in my three weeks at FSU.
Rollins is a small community, meaning that people tend to be friendly, and it’s painless to make friends. I had strangers come up to me and eat meals with me for the first week until I had a solid group of friends.
Trust me, Rollins is a welcoming community, and if you’re willing, be the person to go up to another student sitting alone and jump-start a conversation.
Third, I’m really not a religious person, but I believe everything happens for a reason. Something you probably noticed about your classes this semester is that you didn’t really get to choose them; they’re just given to you.
My classes gave me my best friends, and I probably wouldn’t have met them any other way.
Speak to your classmates, turn them into friends. My bet is they’re probably just as lonely and anxious as you, and the more people you talk to, the more friends you make.
Fourth, I started college with a different mindset than I had in high school, and it’s the best thing I could’ve done. I stole this mindset from a book I read in high school, convincing me to basically say yes to everything.
Okay, not everything. If someone offers you coke, don’t do it. But by saying yes to almost any opportunity presented to you, it forces you to take risks you wouldn’t otherwise take.
If I didn’t have this mindset, I never would’ve joined The Sandspur and tried writing. I had no experience writing in the past, and now it’s become one of my favorite activities.
I never would’ve gained the friends I have if I didn’t go to events with them and join clubs that sounded interesting to me. Extracurricular activities are important in many young people’s lives and have been associated with positive academic, psychological, and social outcomes.
So, get involved. Saying yes is how you get involved, get the college experience, and find your friends.
This goes hand-in-hand with some advice my uncles gave me: slow down and socialize.
I focused almost entirely on academics in high school, with the goal to graduate college early. When I switched from FSU to Rollins I realized that plan had basically gone down the drain. I took this opportunity to lighten my course load and use my extra time to socialize.
See, when people tell you college is harder than high school, I don’t think they’re talking about the academic aspect of it, but the social aspect. For once, you are surrounded by a bunch of students who are your age, and that’s basically it. No parents and family to go home to, just fellow students.
Go to those events that you make fun of. I went to a few, like speed-friending, in which I ironically ended up making legitimate friends. Take the time your freshman year to get to know your class; you’re spending at least the next few years with them.
Just make sure you do this all in moderation, and don’t let your classwork overwhelm you.
Lastly, who you are right now is not who you are going to be by the end of freshman year.
Maybe you won’t completely switch schools like I did, but change is inevitable, and while it seems like it’s all too much too fast, especially in the middle of a pandemic, it will happen no matter what.
Change comes in the form of your college major, which 80 percent of college graduates change at least once during their college career, and your personality as you surround yourself with new people.
It’s important to remember that change isn’t bad. It’s just different and necessary for you to grow into your future self.