an open letter to the class of 2021

25 May 2017

Life is full. 
Just a short week ago, I was simultaneously studying for finals and frantically packing up all my earthly belongings, getting ready to move back home for the summer. 
I'm officially finished with my first year of college. It's truly crazy and surreal to think about how crazy fast my freshman year went by, how much I have learned about myself, and how much closer I am to launching myself into the elusive real world

Since I've been home, my friends and family have been asking me a million questions. So how was your first year of college? Does it feel weird to be home? And, to be honest, I don't really know how to answer.
College was a conflicting, strange time for me, and even now, I'm still processing what I thought of it all. 

During the month or so before I left for college last fall I would pour myself over posts like this. I read many articles and watched many videos about how exactly to do college. What to expect, what to definitely bring with you, how to decorate your dorm room, how to survive on your own.
I guess I thought that after doing all this research I would feel prepared, but I didn't.
The college tips and hacks began to sound the same. No one had any new information to give, and no one seemed to have anything to say that would make me feel immediately confident in leaving everything and everyone I love.

This is my advise. These are the things I wish I could have told myself before I went to college. These are the things that I couldn't learn from the various teen lifestyle bloggers and vloggers.

Get out of your dorm room (even if you don't feel like it). This is serious! I cannot begin to express how many nights I spent hidden away in my room. I simply refused to go out. I didn't want to see people or do anything. (I'm pretty sure my roommate and her friends thought I was antisocial or something). But deep down, I really did want something other than school to occupy myself with. Sometimes an event would be going on and I would have force myself to go, despite how sad or stressed I was. Afterward I was always glad I decided to go.
It's good to have alone time, but when you're always alone without distraction it's easier to dwell on stress, loneliness, and homesickness. Go to events, join clubs, do your homework at the library. Just get out of your room and do something!

You don't need to pull all-nighters to get good grades. I am physically incapable of pulling all-nighters, it's just who I am. I can't do it. So I was very nervous about how I would be able to handle the amount of homework and assignments. It's true, there will always be late nights every once in awhile, but it is possible to keep up with everything and still get a good night sleep. Instead of staying up until 3 a.m., go to bed early and wake up early to finish editing your paper.  It's all about time management and keeping your priorities straight.

Call people by their first names. This may seem like a weird one. But when you first arrive at college, you will be bombarded with a million new people who have names you need to learn. It can be hard to remember everyone. If you can, though, try and call people by their names when you pass them on your way to class or when you see them across the food court. Showing someone that you've taken the time to remember their name can mean a lot, even if it may not seem like a very big deal.

Everyone else feels just as lost as you and that's the truth. Even all the teen lifestyle bloggers out there who are dishing out all of their sage-like wisdom don't know what their doing. I remember on one of my first days on campus, sitting in a dorm with a couple other girls just venting about how scared we were. There will be people who seem more confident than you, but remember that everyone's in the same boat. You're starting a new stage of life, and that's always frightening. Don't ever feel like you're alone, and don't be afraid to talk to someone if you need to.

Use your brain and be CRITICAL. The number one reason you're going to college is to learn. To learn about the real world and how to get your dream job, but also to learn about yourself and what you believe. This is a time in your life when you're really going to begin to develop your opinions and beliefs and make them your own. It can be exciting and scary and confusing. You should listen and seek to learn as much as you can from as many different people you can, but you should also learn be very critical about the information you absorb and take everything with a grain of salt.
I cannot stress this point enough. I have seen so many people who have taken whatever a professor or peer says without questioning it. Don't do that. Pray and think on what you learn, talk to your parents or pastor or someone you trust about things that confuse you. Be always wary of accepting something as absolute truth without thinking it through.
Sometimes there are just some things that no blog post can teach you. Sometimes you just have to dive in and see what sort of treasure you'll come back to the surface with.
You'll probably learn completely different life lessons from your own experience. Everyone has different experiences in college, and I can only speak from my own.

With one meager year of college experience under my belt, I in no way consider myself an expert on college life. I don't feel like I'm qualified to enlighten any upcoming college students. In many ways I still feel like I did a year ago: completely lost, unsure of what to expect. I'm still working on following my own advise.
I will always be learning about myself, but I am extremely grateful for what college has taught me so far.


  1. I'm not going off to college yet-- I've got one more year of high school shortly after, but I agree with the time management thing right now. All of my friends are appalled that I go to sleep at nine in the evening when "lights out" for them is around one in the morning, consistently, and that's because of a thirty-minute block of free time I have in the morning is when little things are taken care of. Like you said, going through education, whether its the secondary or tertiary level, is a continual learning process, and we all learn as we go.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah
    ups & downs

    1. I've always been more of a morning person, and I totally relate. People always look at me like I'm some sort of mutant when I go to bed super early. The morning is when things get done! They don't understand!
      Good luck with your last year of high school, girl! :)

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