Hi -- welcome to college. The next four years will be the most challenging years of your life, but also the most rewarding. You will have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows (seriously). You will laugh in ways you couldn't imagine and you will cry and nap in the most unexpected places. At the end of it all, It's going to be okay.
You're doing to miss your high school friends - that's normal... but don't let that stop you from branching out and making new friends. There will be times where you will eat alone... and it's okay. Honestly, it's more common than you think. Use that time to call your family or friends, or even watch Netflix.
Always make your bed. It's so nice coming home after a long day to a bed that is made. You'll thank me later.
Don't rush. Take it one day at a time. Enjoy the good and bad moments and everything in between. It goes by so fast and next thing you'll know you're standing there with your cap and gown and saying goodbye to your best friends.
Go to office hours and talk to your professors even before the exam nears. Just get to know them, they are actually pretty cool. Keep in touch with them once the class is over.
Utilize the TAs as well, the tutoring sessions, and everything in between. Your grades will thank you.
Speaking of grades... your grades don't define you. Yes, they are important. Yes, study hard...but don't sacrifice your mental or physical health for it. Find a study partner that is always down to study with you - whether it's at the dorm study lounges, your dorm room, the library or coffee shops. It makes studying more fun when you're with someone/people who care about learning and chasing big goals like you.
Don't compare yourself with other people. Seriously. You are amazing and capable of doing wonderful things. Just because you studied for two weeks on an exam that someone studied two days for, doesn't mean anything. What matters is the result. Sometimes you have to work harder or twice as hard just to be where everyone else is at and that's okay. Own it and watch yourself grow.
It's okay to take breaks and reward yourself with ice cream. Okay - don't eat ice cream after EVERY chemistry exam, but reward yourself now and then. Take a break, go to the gym, go out to eat with friends. You still have a life outside of your studies.
It's okay if you feel lonely. Just know you are not alone. God is always with you. You have your family and your friends whether they are near or far. You have a group of people that care and love you. It's okay if you feel alone in a school of 50,000+ people. It's normal.
Take a breath now and then and don't try so hard. Just be yourself and don't feel like you have to change who you are just to get along with people you meet. Not everyone you meet will be your friend or automatically "click" with and that's okay. Friends come and go. People you were close with your freshman year will become strangers and that's okay. Be grateful for the memories, pictures and videos. Just know that people grow apart sometimes and that's okay too. Those who want to stay in your life will try their best to stay in it and those who don't... well, that's a part of life.
Know what you deserve - whether that is in friendships or relationships. Never settle.
Surround yourself with people who will push you to be the best version of yourself. Surround yourself with those who will meet you halfway and try as much in the friendship as you do. Not all the "friends" you will make have your best intentions... be careful.
Find a Christian fellowship group that will welcome you, love you, and run with you to Jesus. It's refreshing having friends who have the same values and passion for Jesus as you do. They will pray for you and surround you with His love through the tough times. Cherish them and spend more time with them. Go out to eat with them now and then.
Join organizations that interest you - not just ones you feel like will look "good" on your resume.
Volunteer - not just because it will look good... but because you really get to know people when you wrap presents with them for over 2+ hours. Plus, volunteering is super rewarding and you need a break from school.
Manage your time wisely dude. Look at your schedule and be realistic. Are you really going to study after you come back from dinner with friends at 10 pm??
Use the school's resources - whether that's the gym, the rec. center, the writing center, etc. You're paying money to be there, you might as well use everything that's available to you.
Always bring an umbrella. Get a tiny one and just keep it in your backpack. The weather can be so unpredictable.
Call your parents and sister more often. Check in. Realize how much they have sacrificed for you. Tell them I love you more often. They are so proud of you no matter what. Remember that.
Also - don't stay up too late. Seriously, eye bags are not cute.
Lastly, but most importantly... just trust God and let Him be in control. I know that you have all these plans on how college will be like and how your life will be like... but honestly, it's so much easier letting Him take over. You will experience so much more freedom.
Grad student Nicole (who is still figuring things out)
Wait - there's more
Below are some more advice from my friends of all ages - those who have graduated and those who are still in college: