College Advice + Tips

Y'all, my sophomore year starts in a little over a month... I can't believe it because it kind of feels like I am going for my freshman year and I need to start preparing for rush. Luckily, despite what my brain thinks, I am going back to Alabama as a sophomore and not a freshman. Speaking of freshman year, today I am sharing with y'all seven pieces of advice/tips/things I wished I had known. I loved my freshman year, and hopefully this advice and these tips can help you have a great first year too!

1. It's okay if you don't meet your best friends right away. I think when you join a sorority you expect to find your lifelong best friends on Bid Day/New Member Retreat. Of course that does happen for some people, but it doesn't happen for others. It took me about a week to become friends with Emma, and that happened because I didn't want to sit at lunch by myself. Then it took me another month to become friends with Katielynn, Catherine, and Julia. Then if you don't join a sorority, this might take a little bit longer too until you get settled in classes and find organizations to join. Don't be discouraged if on the first day of class you haven't found your best friend yet.

2. Get out of your dorm as much as possible. The people I know who didn't like school didn't do anything besides go to class and sit in their dorm. College is of course about getting good grades, but it's also about doing something, anything. This is the time to get involved in something you are passionate about because you have so much time outside of classes. Also most universities offer a ton of welcome back activities for freshmen during the first week of school. At Alabama they have movies on the Quad and a welcome back concert, which is where I got to see Ludacris last year.

3. Take at least one humanities course even if you don't have to. Last semester I took Southern Studies because I thought I was going to be an American Studies minor for a hot second, and it turned out to be one of my favorite classes. While I ended up not needing the classes because I already had my humanities credits covered, and I am no longer going to be an AMS minor, I thought it was one of the more useful classes I've taken. Humanities classes are all about thinking critically and looking at subject matters through different lenses, which I think is a super important skill to learn. These courses are also super interesting, and there are a wide range of topics, so you will probably find something that piques your interest.

4. Don't shy away from hard classes. Everyone I know always looks up professors on RateMyProfessor and wants the professor who gives no homework, grades easily, and doesn't take attendance. While I have definitely taken those classes in the last year, my favorite classes were the ones with "hard" professors. My Intro to PR class only had one professor, and everyone complained about him, but in the end he ended up being one of my favorite professors. Yeah, I had to work really hard in that class, but I learned a lot even because I struggled sometimes. Definitely balance out hard classes with easy classes, but don't be afraid to try something a little bit harder.

5. It's okay to change your mind about everything. I think this is something I learn every year, and it's something I think I have to relearn every year. If you know me, you know that I am the person with the five year plan who has everything planned out, and it colored coded. I talked about what changed for me in the last year in my Freshman Year Reflection post, but surprisingly an Odyssey article summed it up in the perfect way. During your freshman year, you are going to fall in and out of love with just about everything, and that's okay. You're under no obligation to keep doing things exactly the same way all the time. Your life is too short to spend it doing things you don't like and being around people you don't like.

6. Find a place to study that isn't the library or your dorm. Personally I don't love studying the library, and I can't hard core study in my dorm, especially if my roommates are there. The library is too sad for me honestly, and I only go there if it's exam season, and I need to crack down on everything. I have three go-to spaces to study at school. My #1 place to study is the Theta house mostly because I am there all the time. It can be super loud during meal times, but once lunch is over, the house is actually pretty quiet, and I just put in headphones and do homework. The other two places are the balcony of the communications building, which is actually my favorite place on campus, and then the student center. Having options is the best because you will go to your "go-to" place at some point, and it will either be too crowded or too loud.

7. Figure out who you like going out with. Okay, I don't go out a ton, but when I did, I learned very quickly that your experience will be defined by who you go out with. If you don't like drinking, going out with people who do may not be the most fun. If you like staying at one place/fraternity/bar, your friends who like to party hop may not be the right choice. I love all my friends, but I know there are certain friends that I can't go out with because our "going out" vibes don't match.

xx, jKm

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