Welcome to college. You’ve probably heard everyone say “This is going to be the greatest four years of your life!”, but I sincerely hope they are not. Instead, I hope that these are the most transformative four years that set you up for the greatest life you can possibly live. Here are the five things I wish I could tell my freshman self so that I could’ve made my own transformation as incredible as yours could be:
College is not high school. At all. Ditch every preconceived notion you carried with you from your past experiences with school, because none of them will fly here. There are no cliques, so join as many friend groups as you want. You don’t get clout for not caring about things, so be passionate about everything you do. Above all, you can be whoever you want to be, even if nobody has ever been that person before. You create your own reality here.
GO TO CLASS. You will quickly realize that you don’t need to go to every class in order to pass your classes, but this doesn’t mean you should take advantage of it. We seem to forget that we’re paying thousands of dollars per class, so squeeze every cent out of your education and attend every lecture possible. You have the privilege of being taught by world renowned leaders and educators, and I promise they will have something interesting to say more often than not. Plus, dead week and finals week will epicly suck if you leave your readings till the last minute.
Join an organization, ANY organization. This is something I cannot stress enough to you. College is the only four years of your life that you will have the opportunity and time to try as many things as you want and meet as many people as possible by doing so. Joining an organization on campusgives you a sense of belonging and a group of people who care about the same things that you do. You won’t know how good it feels to be surrounded by that until you try it, so just trust me and go for it. Plus, connections and networks will save your life, and the best way to make a ton is through joining a group on campus.
Speaking of connections, make LOTS of friends in your classes. You are guaranteed to run into some difficult classes throughout your college career and you won’t always have the TA or Professor at your immediate disposal to get help from. This is where your peers come in handy. From learning from one another to creating study groups for tests to having someone to get notes from, friendships with classmates will take you far andrelieve a lot of stress. At UCSB, the Nectir app helps you connect with everyone in your class so you don’t have to go through the awkward introductions with the person sitting next to you in lecture.
By finding out what you don’t want to do in life, you’ll discover what you would truly love to do with your life. I’ve seen countless friends end their college careers and enter the real world doing something they aren’t passionate about but will make them money. I’ve also seen how this creates a life of unhappiness. During your run at college, try as many different internships and positions as you possibly can. Test every industry that possibly appeals to you, and even try some that don’t. You won’t know what you do and do not like until you try it yourself, and the best way to do that is through real world experience. It is more than possible to make money AND be happy.
I urge you to make this the best four years you’ve had in life thus far, and set yourself up so that every year after college is even better than the last. Take every opportunity that comes your way and make the absolute most of it. The most important thing you can learn about here is yourself, so take all the time you need to do it well. I wish you the best of luck!