While some take freshman year an opportunity to let loose and celebrate newfound independence, I initially chose to take it as a continuation of high school. I wanted to make the most of my experience but I ranked my academic and extracurricular schedule much higher than any other commitments. If I could go back, there are so many things I would tell myself.
First, give yourself a break.
Everyone says college is the best four years of your life. Don’t take it for granted. As soon as I walked through the door of my dorm room, I wanted to do everything. I immediately started academic planning for the four upcoming years and figuring out the dates for activity and career fairs. I wanted to fully indulge in the college opportunity bubble, but I didn’t give myself a chance to take it all in.
Take a second to realize where you are and what your goals are. Staying on top of your academic agenda is generally of utmost importance. However, don’t forget about forming connections with people on your floor, classmates and even professors. I realized pretty quickly that I needed to take a step back from planning out my life. I had to learn to live it.
Another piece of advice I would give my freshman self is to not stress so much. As a high school student, I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep my GPA high and be involved in as many clubs as possible. Coming into college, I maintained this mentality in spite of how much stress it gave me. Although I still get stressed during exam season, I like to keep a positive outlook on my college involvement. I wish I could go back and constantly remind myself that one bad grade does not determine my future.
I want to continue reminding myself that missing your GPA goal for the semester by a slight margin is not the end of the world. Mental health is even more important than grades and extracurricular activities, so take the steps necessary to stay healthy. The better your mental state, the more likely you are to be productive and successful.
Another thing I wish I could tell myself is to take advantage of the University of Maryland’s proximity to Washington, D.C. After choosing to go to school in the DMV, I had my heart set on finding internships and doing regular city days in D.C. with friends. After coming to school, however, I have probably been there a total of three times for the sake of adventure. As the semesters go by, your schedule gets more packed. Take opportunities to do city trips when you have the time.
Lastly, I would assure myself that everything will work out. This is something I will probably want to tell my current self when I’m a junior or senior. It’s normal to have doubts and concerns about what you’re studying and what career path you want to pursue. The most important thing is studying hard, caring for yourself, planning for your future and doing the best you can with what you’ve got.
For the longest time, I didn’t know what I wanted to choose as my double major to pair with multiplatform journalism. When I settled on information science after months of debating, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I know that there will be similar weights to lift in the future. Being happy with my current situation has made me realize that this isn’t something to be scared of. I would tell my freshman self to understand that challenges are a normal aspect of life. You should take great pride in accomplishing every little task.
Freshman year was not so long ago. I know that in the future, I’m going to want to write more letters to reflect. Overall, I would love to give my past self these pieces of advice, but I’m simultaneously glad I’ve made certain mistakes. I’ve grown more in this last year than I ever have throughout high school.