Dear College Freshmen,
Congratulations on being accepted to the university of your choice and making it through your first semester! I’m sure it feels great being out on your own, and that you’ve already made tons of great friends and had many exciting experiences. I’m writing because I want to tell you a few things I wish I’d known when I was in your position; four short years ago. These are things I learned, regrettably late, that make me wish I could redo college. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes.
Find what you really love
It might not seem like it, but the choices you make now affect the rest of your life. We’ll all be working for a long time; having a job you love is essential to happiness. Think about it, people spend more time at work than anywhere else. Do you want to spend your life bored and indifferent, counting the minutes until the end of the day? Right now is the best time to find your passion. You have the free time and resources at your disposal.
Waiting too long to find mine was a huge mistake. I chose an easy employable major. I thought I’d be happy doing anything that paid well. Trust me, this doesn’t work. Unless you fit into a predefined category, you have to investigate many different options to find the right fit. Start looking now and you’ll be much better off. I set myself back a couple years by wasting this opportunity. Now I’m busting my ass to catch up.
Follow your whims. Talk with students and professors who share your interests. You’ll meet a thousand dead ends, but finding the right path is priceless. Don’t expect it to find you and don’t think that it doesn’t matter.
Don’t Sweat the social circles
It might seem like getting into the right frat/sorority and hanging out with the “cool people” is a huge deal, but realize that none of this will matter at all in four short years. The people that are concerned with social circles are insecure. They feel a need to validate themselves with an outside authority. Have the confidence to validate yourself and people will love you for it.
At the end of college those circles evaporate and what remains are the lasting friendships you’ve made. Don’t chase coolness at the expense of real relationships. I wasted a couple years being frustrated by my social position when I should have had confidence in myself.
Neither studying, nor partying, is everything
Don’t be one dimensional; it is important to find balance and avoid extremes. There is a lot more to success than having the best grades and there is a lot more to having a great time than partying nonstop. Don’t let an obsession with either keep you from getting the most out of college.
By being one dimensional, you cut yourself off from meeting people who think differently than you. If you obsess over grades, you won’t realize that there are a lot of really smart people who don’t get good grades. Success is built on more than following the professor’s instructions.
If all you do is party, at the end of college when the party ends, you’ll see that many of your “friends” were only there for the good times, and that without stimulants you have few lasting relationships. It took me a long time to learn that partying nonstop is just as dull and monotonous as studying nonstop. Don’t miss a great opportunity to meet interesting people and discover what really makes you happy.
I hope this letter inspires you to make the most of your college experience and avoid the mistakes that I made. You have a great opportunity to position yourself on a path to happiness and success. By being smart now, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and hardship later. Best of luck in all your future endeavors!