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Dear First-Year College Student

Dear College Student,

I met you today as you were moving in and I couldn’t help but remember my own freshman move-in. The anxiety, nervousness, and—yes—hope of what was to come next. I remember the sweat dripping down my back as I loaded, then unloaded, then carried, then unloaded, then shopped, then unpacked, and then went shopping again. I remember the tears welling in my eyes (unbidden!) as I hugged my parents goodbye. I remember the momentary sense of ‘what next’ as I sat in my new, unfamiliar room, for the first time by myself. I say momentary because it really did only last a moment. Then my neighbors down the hall asked me to do something with them. And I did. And it was glorious to make new friends in a new place that would be home for the next nine months. Just remember, it’s ok to have those moments of ‘what next’ ever so often. You’ll be better because of them.

Today marks a pivotal moment for you. You are leaving home (likely for the first time). You are going to leave behind many childhood friends and make many more new ones. You are going to take classes you love and some that you hate. You’re going to try things that you never thought you would. You’re going to morph into someone new. And then do it again.

All of these things are great.

All of these things are going to turn you into the person that you will one day be.

So as you move into your new room and your new life, here are just a few things I can tell you:

  1. Remember to call your family. This could be your parents, siblings, grandparents, best friends—whoever you consider to be your family. They are your support and just because you are doing all these amazing things doesn’t mean you should completely forget them. They’ll be the ones there for you through it all.

  2. Take classes that you never thought you would in high school. So what if it doesn’t count towards your major? This is one of the few times in your life where you get to explore multiple different facets of yourself, your interests, and your passions. Take advantage of the great resources and faculty college has to give you. You might just learn something valuable along the way.

  3. Talk to the person on your floor that you never would have talked to in high school. College is a time to explore different world views and understandings. This is your chance. Don’t miss it.

  4. Join at least one club that excites you. What are you interested in? Find that club and join it. It might be a zombie hunting club or a midnight waffle club. Who cares. This is your chance to do something (typically late at night) with other people (just as crazy as you are) doing something you love.

  5. Don’t be afraid to change. Change your hair. Change your friends. Change your major. Whatever will make you feel happy and successful, this is what you need to be doing. Forget what you’ve been told you should be and do if it isn’t fulfilling you. Discover that thing. Take hold of it. And own it. It’ll be worth it. I promise.

Dear college student, just live.

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