An Open Letter to My Freshman Self
As you prepare to embark on this wild, amazing, crazy journey known as college, there are a few things you should remember before plunging in.
1. Avoid comparing yourself to your peers. Surprise! That feeling of being top of your class is about to vanish. Everyone around you was probably about as successful as you were in high school, and may even be smarter than you. Before comparing yourself to others with the detrimental effects on your own self-confidence, use it as the unique tool that it is. Rarely in your life will you ever be surrounded by endless young, fresh, innovative minds just as passionate about the subjects of your classes as you are. Celebrate others’ successes and learn from the knowledge they have that extends beyond your own. By releasing yourself from the imaginary contest you have with others, you will be exponentially more satisfied with yourself as you are.
2. Learn how to study. That thing you called “studying” in high school that involved Facebook shining from your computer next to your textbook and your phone in one hand? That doesn’t quite cut it in college. If you’re going to commit to studying, then actually study! (And studying your phone screen or your ex’s Facebook page doesn’t count.) It’s likely that the optimal study routine will be different for each of your classes, and it would be best to figure each routine out before that first round of exams. Talk to others who have already successfully taken the class about their study habits. Make study groups with the other students that always show up to office hours. Studying should be short but often, even when you don’t have a test coming up. Your night-before-the-test-self will thank you!
3. Remember why you are here. As a student in Austin you will not only be exposed to an amazing educational world, but an entirely new social world with opportunities to have fun at almost all hours of the day. Allowing yourself time to relax and enjoy yourself is vital to remaining sane in college, but remember it is not the central goal of your college experience. Your curiosity and passion for learning is what got you to UT and is what will get you to your career goals. There will always be parties, there will always be dates to go on, but this is the one unique time in your life entirely dedicated to extending your knowledge about the subjects you love. Take advantage of the myriad of opportunities available to enrich your educational experience.
The sea of students in the intro courses can drown you. The lights on 6th street can be blinding. That first low exam grade can shatter your confidence. Don’t let it. You are smart, you are capable, and you are going places. Demanding and unpleasant; wonderful and life changing. Welcome to college!