Things I wish I knew as a freshman

First semester of senior year is more than halfway through and I think the consensus among the senior class is—oh my god.

It feels like just yesterday I was a senior in high school, sending in my college applications and making the most of my last few months at home. Now as I scramble to finish up grad school apps, I can’t help but wonder: Where did the time go?

To all underclassmen, this column is for you. There are some things I wish I knew as a freshman and others I am glad I found out the hard way. And to my fellow seniors, I am thankful I have been able to take this journey with all of you.

Dear 18-year-old me,

You are just a few months away from leaving your cozy life upstate and heading to the Big Apple. Surprisingly, you aren’t that nervous, but you should be.

You need to get good grades your first semester of college, or when you are applying for grad school you will constantly find yourself having to explain that first semester. Work hard right away; being a freshman is no excuse. Have fun too, of course, but you won’t remember the nights you missed out on. You will remember that B- you got in a core class though. That stays with you (on your transcript) forever.

Call your parents! Okay, I get it, you are having a great old time living it up in New York City, finally on your own, but call them! They are actually really awesome and cool and it shouldn’t take you until junior year to discover that.  And listen to their advice. You used to always roll your eyes and scowl at them when they gave you advice, but everything they said was 100 percent correct and if you just listened to them in the first place things will be much easier.

Get involved right away. Jump right in and immerse yourself in everything. At first you will be overwhelmed and feel like you are doing way too much, but it will all pay off in the end.

If people hurt your feelings, move on. You are going to make the most amazing friends at St. John’s and the people who hurt you are not worth a second thought.

Speaking of friends, value every moment with them. Whether it be late nights or early mornings, the simple moments become the big moments. One day, you will wake up and it will be senior year and the people who were your best friends freshman and sophomore year will still be your best friends senior year. And they will most likely be the same people who are there during every milestone in your life after college. There are no friends quite like college friends.

Stay firm in your convictions and beliefs. College is all about figuring yourself out, but you must be true to yourself in order to do that. Do not be embarrassed to tell people where you stand on issues; it is better to have an opinion than to just reflect the opinion of those around you. Unlike high school, you do not have to have a ‘group mentality’ in order to fit in. Your friends are going to love you for you.

Love yourself. Accept your flaws and learn how to improve on them. You are not perfect and accepting that will make life significantly easier. And do not be so hard on yourself. You have enough critics in the world; you don’t need to be a critic of yourself.

Get to know your professors. St. John’s has great professors who actually really care about students. They also know a whole lot about the field they are teaching and you can learn so much from them.

When you are rejected from internships or jobs, do not feel defeated and do not give up. It will be worth the wait. Your first internship will be life changing. It will open your eyes and potentially reaffirm you are following the right path career path. You will learn more during this internship than you could have ever imagined. This internship will prepare you for both class and your next internship—which will be life-changing too.

Set your own path. Everyone has an opinion on who you are and what you should be—but at the end of the day, what is going to make you happy? If you love your job, you will not work a day in your life; college is the time to find that ‘job,’ so make sure you love what you are doing. You know what is best for you. Go back to what you wanted to be when you were a child—that is probably what you were meant to be, before life got complicated and people put ideas in your head. You are on the right track; just listen to yourself.

There is no right answer to relationships in college. Some people are dead set against them and others are on the track to marriage. Follow your heart and do not let the opinions of others influence your love life. College is your time to be selfish and worry about you, but you can be an individual while in a relationship. You can do both if you are with the right person.

Okay, so maybe you don’t need to be too nervous, you are doing everything right. Your senior year of college, you will be thankful for the mistakes you made, the lessons you learned and the amazing people you met along the way.