An Open Letter to Freshmen in College

Dear Freshman, 

You just graduated from your high school. You put on your cap and gown, looked in the mirror and wondered how time went so absurdly fast. You met your friends in the parking lot, gave each other hugs- you knew this would be the last time you'd all be sitting in the same place together. You might have looked around and gotten sentimental and reminisced about all the times your class participated in spirit events like the powder puff game. You may have been thankful- thankful that you never ever have to talk to these people again after this day. Despite what you were feeling, you all put on that cap and gown and did exactly what you were supposed to do; you took that diploma and proudly shook your teachers' hand and posed for a photo with your family. Please allow yourself to bask in the glory of finishing a major part of your life, because the next part is about to be a whole new level of difficult. 

I loved seeing all of your graduation photos because you will always look back on them and instantly remember the feeling of anxiety, happiness, and fear of moving on to the next portion of your life. Whether you plan on going into the service, the working world, or college,  life changes immensely.  I personally chose to go to college; therefore,  I will write to those who chose to follow that path as well. I moved 17 hours away from the comfortable life I knew in Wisconsin; I knew absolutely nobody, but I knew what I wanted out of this journey and I held on tight to the morals Mom and Dad taught me throughout my childhood. My advice to you may differ from another college student, so take my word as you wish. 

This summer I encourage you to take advantage of all the free time you have. Work, yes, but spend time with you friends and busy yourself with seeing the people that actually matter to you.  You no longer have to wallow in your frustration about how you have to go to school with people you don't like because guess what? You never have to see them again if you don't want to! Take advantage of being a kid; college allows you to be a kid...just a kid with a lot of responsibility. Your fun doesn't stop, though, it gets better- life gets more exciting! 

This is what will happen: all summer you will hang out in your hometown enjoying the last moments you have with your family, friends, dog... and then you will leave it all. Everybody will experience some type of anxiety about what's to come and some will talk about it while others will keep it hidden until the car ride to college. Tears will be shed when you hug your best friend goodbye, (and trust me, those goodbyes never get easier). For the first time in your life, you will be in a spot where you don't know anybody! And if you do know somebody, I encourage you to meet new people! The world is filled with fascinating individuals who didn't go to your high school, so make an effort to find them. 

I can't predict your emotions while experiencing this transition, but I can tell you how I felt.

Moving 17 hours away...I thought about it every single day and it consumed my thoughts. I had no idea how I was ever going to pull this off at 18 years old! How could I purchase a one way ticket to a place I'd only visited twice?!!! Would I make friends or would I spend my nights being lonely in my dorm room??? I'd only expressed these worries a few times to my friends and family but two days before all my friends left for school, I broke down. I cried. Nope, I balled! I didn't want to go and face the reality of change. Nonetheless, a week later I was off to embark on a new adventure. 

I stepped foot in my empty dorm room, cracked a joke with the new roomie and all worries faded. Not once was I homesick in the first 10 weeks of college and I ended up having the time of my life. I was lucky though; some others will tell you that their college experience was a very difficult adjustment. Stick it out;  your first semester is made to push you harder than you've ever been pushed in high school. I promise, it will (most likely) get better, and if it doesn't there's another place where you belong.

Be a game-changing college kid that doesn’t waste money; education is a privilege .

The first time you're left alone without your parents will be scary, but it will be thrilling. You finally have the freedom you've always wanted! Be brave; go up to people and talk to them. You won't be friends with half the people you meet on the first couple of days. Be nice! Be a good person, be accepting-make your parents proud while also having a great time. You're responsible for your eating, working out, school work, drinking, girl/boyfriends... whatever you want! And your mistakes will follow you, so be careful. Mommy doesn't get to call the principal if she doesn't like your professor!  You're on your own, champ. Make the best decisions and do what you want.  You'll learn a lot about yourself and what you want in life. Be a game changing college kid and don't waste money; education is a privilege. 

There's a lot more I could say about college, and there's a lot more other people could say about college. It's undeniable that it's one of the scariest things you'll ever face in life, but many others around you are going through the same uneasiness. I'm writing to assure you that it will all be okay. Your nerves will be settled and you will mature whether you like it or not. I can't wait for you to be feeling nostalgic about wearing your cap and gown and snazzy graduation outfit - you'll also have something to say to the next group of freshmen. 

xoxo, 

Ash