Three Things I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman

Hey, it’s me again.  Sorry I’ve disappeared for such a long time, but I’ve had an especially rough start to college.  Anyways, a year ago this time I was looking forward to college with some apprehension, wondering how it would go and which mistakes I made.  As many people in the world are now in the same place, I thought I might share some of my rising sophomore wisdom.  So here’s to the rest of you making different (and hopefully less harmful) mistakes than I did.


1. Don’t get in a relationship first semester.  During your freshman year, it’s probably preferable not to get in a relationship at all, but if things really come together for you, then I’m not going to stop you.  Just don’t do it during the first semester.  Why?  Because first semester is a critical period in getting adjusted and making your group of friends.  By concentrating on a new relationship, you limit yourself to focusing on friendship with one person.

If/ when your relationship ends, then you will find yourself alone and friendless because your significant other is gone and everyone else already has their group of friends.  I know more than one person who this has happened to, and it’s a lonely place to be.  If the person you’re interested is the right one for you, then they’re capable of waiting a semester.


2. Watch out for toxic people.  This is something I really struggled with, especially as a naturally empathetic person and a listener.  If you’re the kind of person who attracts troubled people– and you know who you are– you need to be on guard to stay away from them.  Freshman year is a time when you have enough to focus on with an adjustment, and you don’t have the time or ability to be someone’s therapist.  In fact, you’re not licensed for that and can do someone more harm than good.

The truth is, colleges are full to the brim with struggling people.  Unless if you’re completely self-absorbed, you’re likely to run into that eventually.  I’m not saying to never help a friend in need, but if someone you know is struggling with something severe, it’s better for you and them if you refer them to professional help.

3. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone.  Most people walk into college thinking that mental health issues and abusive relationships are things that happen to other people.  However, statistics show it is rather likely to happen to you and will certainly happen to someone you know.

Almost a third of college students report feeling crippling depression in the last year and over half report overwhelming anxiety (source).   In addition, almost half of college women report being abused by a romantic partner (source).  And don’t think this never happens to men.  Statistics are hard to find because men tend to stay quiet about this sort of thing due to pressures from society, but they certainly are abused as well.

These statistics aren’t meant to scare you, just to inform you.  If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental health or abuse, please contact your school.


That said, while there are a lot of difficulties to the college life, it’s not all dismal.  Some of the deepest friendships I’ve formed and my best life experiences happened in the last year.  I’m sure the same will be true of you as well.  So live your best life next year, and make the smartest mistakes possible.

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