This is not high school.
This is nothing like high school — so take a deep breath. Calm down. No one here cares what your social standing was. No one cares about your GPA or SAT scores. It doesn’t matter what clubs you founded, what teams you were captain of or how many hours — upon hours — you spent playing League of Legends alone in your bedroom.
Get all that out of your head now, Class of ‘14, because now you’re Class of ‘18, and you’re all on the same, level playing field, with nothing to defend yourself but a 24-pack of Top Ramen and only a general idea of how to buy laundry detergent.
Welcome to your fresh start.
The great news is that college really is what you make of it. For those of you who are nervous you’ll have to drink to fit in, no worries at all — there are so many people here who know how to have a blast without partying, and you’ll find those people. There are few things better than ordering a pizza, watching a movie and talking with your closest friends until 2 a.m.
For those of you seeing visions of “Animal House,” no worries to you either — you’ll find those people, too.
On that note, there are lots of things that come with college life than can either be really fun, or really bad, depending on how smart you are about it. Remember. One glass of water for every drink you have. Hooking up with someone you live with is never — never — a good idea. Going out? Two words — buddy. System.
No matter which direction you decide to go in college — party route, or lower key — don’t ever be the person who tries to tell someone that one is better than the other. To each his own, and all the power to him for doing what he likes. That said, constantly seek new experiences. Make friends with international students. Go to guest lectures. When someone invites you to do something, say yes.
Classes are not the most important part of your college experience. Not by a long shot.
That said, it can be easy to get sucked into partying, a significant other or an extracurricular, and lose sight of why you’re really here. Don’t forget what you came here to do — thinking about the price tag can usually remedy that.
Speaking of price tags, go to class. Just do it. Drop your 8:30 a.m. class if you have to. Every single class costs about $20. That means that if you skip just one day, it’s like going to Einsteins, buying seven bagels with schmear, and throwing them away. The faster you get into the swing of treating your college career like a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, the better off you’ll be.
A final note on academics: professors. They are your new best friends. Go to office hours, ask them questions and sit in the front of the class and get chummy with them.
Also, they’ll try to convince you that you have to study 80 hours for every one hour you’re in class to pass. I’m not saying that’s true or anything, but I am saying you should probably study for one at least.
It’s okay to be sad. These are some of the best years of your life, but also some of the most overwhelming. Every moment won’t be a high. Remember, there are so many people here who care about you.
If you take one thing out of this, remember that college is about finding something you love, and owning it.
And if you take two: your mom worries about you; don’t forget to call her.
Good luck, stay safe, don’t forget to do you. I commend thee — you’ll be great.
Hannah Shirley can be reached at email@example.com