Words for an Incoming Freshman
Attending the University of Colorado, Boulder is definitely one of the best decisions you could have made, so congratulations on passing your first test. Your choice is wise and sound. This is where you will spend your next four years … or five or six give or take a couple summer courses. The thing about college is that adults really love to ask you questions and give you vague, over-reaching advice about these next couple years. Truth is, of course it will be the best four years of your life. You are – for the first time – only accountable for yourself. There is no one there to tell you to do your homework or laundry or drive your little sister to her friend’s house or pester you about how your day was when you’ve finally arrived home and all you want to do is sleep for one hundred years. You are suddenly thrown into this cesspool of young adults with varying maturity levels who are from all over the place and you’ve never met before. Odds are you are living with a stranger, so that could go any number of ways. Everything is new and exciting and included in your meal plan.
Be warned, though, that things will get messy. Junk will get in your way and something won’t go as planned and suddenly you have too much work and there is no hope and you are melting with misery inside. School is hard, and sometimes you question what you’re doing here in the first place. That’s part of life – not just college. Deal with it. Call your mom. Cry if you have to. Stock up on junk from the Farrand Grab-and-Go. Then get on with your life and talk to your professors and your roommates and turn in your work and pass your classes. You’ll be better because of it, and be able to tell incoming freshmen this same thing when you’ve made it to the other, post-grad side of things.
The people you meet in college will be some of the best friends that you’ll keep for the rest of your life, but this will only happen if you make the effort to meet people. Go out with your roommate, even if you think they’re weird. You’ll meet friends of friends and that will become social life-savers. Bite the bullet and try out Greek Life. Do it, even if you think rushing a fraternity or sorority is just the most ridiculous thing … which is understandable when two hundred girls march out of their house wearing matching outfits and start chanting at you about sisterhood on the first day of Rush Week. It will throw you into a social situation swarming with people that are ready to make friends and you will need allies in these trying times.
Get involved. Join a sports team – club or intramural. Run for student council. Join a club. Find a youth group. Talk to your professors. Some of them are actually pretty tight and can hook you up with mad academic advice. Study abroad. Go to parties. Stay up late. Snag stuff from the cafeteria in the C4C. Go to every football game (even if we keep losing). In the winter, pray for class to be cancelled on account of a snow day … it’s happened and it’s beautiful. Find a friend with a car and go to the mountains. Take classes that you’re actually interested in, because never again in your life will you be in a place where you can learn about absolutely anything – from computer science to primate behavior to the history of WWII. Do your homework. Explore Norlin Library because it’s actually really cool in an almost-nerdy way.
Then, all too quickly, it will be over. You’ll have ended up with some friends that you met on the first day and some that you only met last year. You’ll wander around the Hill and be able to see at least three people that you know because suddenly this school of over 30,000 people seems pretty small. You’ll have gotten an incredible education and learned a bit more about this big, beautiful, curious world that we all struggle to get by in. You’ll know a little more about yourself, too. But most of all, know this: You will only get out of college what you put into it.
So, if you take a second and look around, you’ll see that you are going to a righteous university in a groovy, bizarrely granola city that is tucked between the mountains and the urban sprawl of Denver. You’re surrounded by thousands of people that all chose to be here too. So take it all in. Make questionable decisions that you’ll learn from, make friends, make enemies, make mistakes, but most of all make the most of it. It’ll be a wild ride.