We have officially entered back into college season - a time full of all-nighters, stress cries, and spontaneous Covid-19 safe adventures. Every day is a new social distance challenge with some people taking precautionary measures and some people with their noses sticking out of their masks. As we all fight the good fight and reminisce on the past, the resounding consensus from my friends remains the same: coronavirus has completely changed the structure of college. While this might be obvious and very necessary, I found it interesting how our new circumstances made us rethink our old ones. Everyone feels like this pandemic has given them new lenses to see the world through - lenses that tell them to seize the moment because you never know when that moment might fade away. With this in mind, I reached out to a handful of my friends and asked them if they could give their younger self some advice before they entered freshman year, what would it be and why? Here’s to the new college freshmen; some of this advice might help!

“I would tell my younger self to get outside her comfort zone more often and to embrace my extroverted side. There were so many opportunities for me to get to know more people on campus that I didn't take. I should have talked to the people next to me in classes and gotten to know them more, beyond their major and knowledge on the subject we were learning. I miss going to class and organizations in person, too, and I now realize how to take advantage of my time there in the future.”

  • Zainah Siddiqi, Biology/Chemistry at UT Austin

Bring earplugs if you’re living in a dorm. People living around you are loud, and it could affect your sleep and your grades. It costs less than $2 to receive A grade sleep. :))”

  • Michelle Chen, Neuroscience at UT Austin

“College is not the same experience as high school in terms of coursework. Don't default to old high school habits like waiting till the last minute to study because although that could work in high school, it won't in college. Freshman year engineering classes kicked my butt because I didn't put enough effort into studying and utilizing external resources like office hours and tutoring.”

  • Arjun Patel, Electrical Engineering at UT Austin

“1. Don’t buy textbooks from your school bookstore - use Amazon, rent online, and borrow from friends instead.
2. Pack fewer clothes - you really don’t need 6 pairs of jeans, and 8 pairs of leggings… You wear the same five things every week anyway.
3. Don’t think every guy you talk to is your future husband - you won’t start dating him first semester, I promise.
4. Eat fewer desserts and LESS CHICKEN in the cafeteria - it’ll help your acne and your freshman fifteen (@the face weight you’ve accumulated).”

  • Ashley McWhorter, Psychology at Wheaton College

“I think it’s easy for all of us to compare our lives to other people. Whether it’s about our social status, how “prestigious” our college is, how long we need to graduate, or what our background is, we will always have the natural urge to pit ourselves against someone else. The truth is, this is possibly the most counterproductive mindset a person can have when entering college. College is the time to be yourself and experiment to find what you love to do. Being comfortable in our own skin allows you to relax and enjoy life to the fullest. Even Theodore Roosevelt famously said that “comparison is the thief of joy”. It’s ok to not be in a fraternity or sorority or be interested in something that’s not mainstream. My advice would be to fully embrace who you are because in the end, your college experience is yours and no one else’s.

  • Brooke Henegar, Pre-Nursing at Oklahoma University

“I would say stay true to your values. Coming to college, everything changes. But, even though the environment is different, your values shouldn’t change. You should have belief in your own abilities because you’ll be successful by your own standards.”

  • Allen Zhou, Electrical Engineering at UT Austin

“I would not give my younger self any advice before going into college. Reminiscing on my freshman year, I realize that I've grown so much and learned so many new things. There's not a single aspect of my first year experience that I would want to change because all of it has contributed to my own personal growth in some way. Everything from meeting a loving new group of friends to cramming differential equations at 2am has become an essential part of my life story, and I would hate to change any of it. If I had to tell my younger self one thing, it would be to simply keep living life as it comes; to live in the moment instead of stressing about the future.”

  • Zahid Hossain, Electrical Engineering at UT Austin

“I would tell myself to not let my fears dictate my life and let me miss out on opportunities. I struggle with putting myself out there and challenging myself so I would tell myself to get out of my comfort zone because I don't have anything to be afraid of.”

  • Michelle Lee, Biology at UT Austin

“I would tell myself that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. I assumed that going to college would mean I would and should know exactly what I want to do with my life but clearly plans are made to be broken and it’s more important to go with the flow than to get upset and discouraged. For one example, I had this idea going into college that I’d be an international businesswoman jetting off to different countries every week when in reality, my actual passions lie more in anthropology (and mummies lol - am I allowed to write lol?). Not the plan at all, but I learn more about myself and change every day, and, when you think about it, that’s actually pretty exciting. Who knows who and what I’ll actually be by graduation; I’m looking forward to finding out. :)”

  • Kaleigh Wilkinson, Anthropology at Tulane University

So, there you have it. Live in the moment. Be okay with change. Seize your opportunities. Buy earplugs. It’s not as big of a deal as it seems. Trust yourself, and don’t be afraid. College was big and scary when I first moved here, and, honestly, it stayed that way for the first month or two after. But, once I learned to try new things and allow myself to fail without thinking my life was over, it all became a little easier and a lot more fun.