Ten Things to Know if You Are an Incoming College Freshman by Taylor Hampton, Alpha Class 2019
Hi! My name is Taylor Hampton and I am a member of the 2019 alpha class and a rising junior who is graduating this spring. As my senior/junior year is approaching I was looking back on my freshman year and thought of things that I wish I would have known going into college. I have loved every minute of my time at Virginia Tech and I hope you do too. Here’s to some of the *best* years of your life!
1. You WILL find your people. As an incoming freshman, you may be nervous about making new friends and finding “your people.” I know I was. Although it may seem like everyone is finding their new best friends the day they move in, that is not always the case and those friend groups may even change. For me, it took me about 2 months to find the people who would become my best friends and future roommates. During the first two months when I really didn’t have many friends, I wish I would have known that it may take time to find your people, but you will find them. So, new freshmen, don’t stress. You may find your best friends the day you move in, two months in, second semester, or even sophomore year. I know it can be hard but don’t compare yourself to how many friends other people have. It will be worth it to wait to find yours.
2. Get involved but do only as much as you can handle. As an overachiever, I tend to want to do everything but always realize I have over committed myself. Once you are in college you soon will see that there is always something going on. Between classes, clubs, jobs, and friends, your days will become very busy and you need to choose what is most important to you. I encourage every freshman to get involved on campus with as many different things as you can handle. Note that you may not be able to do as much as you did in high school and that is okay! Give yourself grace!
3. Find your spot. Pick a place on campus that is your go-to spot. Use it when you need time to yourself, a quiet place to give your parents a call, or a change of pace to do homework. This will give you a comfortable space to use when needed. You could hang out there all the time or use it as a special occasion when you really need it. Whatever you choose, it will be nice to have memories at your go-to place on campus.
4. Find your passion. My dad has always told me that “passion is the difference between great and good, find yours.” Over the past three years at Virginia Tech, I have changed my major four times in order to figure out what I was truly passionate about. You may have to do some rearranging, but it will be worth it to do something that you get excited about. If you aren’t excited about what you are doing, everything else will seem like a dread.
5. Meet as many people as possible. If you are a friend to everyone (hallmates, classmates, professors, locals, etc.) campus will feel a lot smaller and more like home. These people may not be your best friend or people you hang out with but with going to a school with 30,000 people, trust me when I say it will be nice to just recognize someone on your walk to class.
6. Be yourself. I know this sounds silly and you may hear this all the time, but college is truly a chance for you to be who you want to be. I came from a small town and a very “clicky” high school which made it hard for people to be themselves. College is so different (thank goodness). It is diverse and welcoming, and it truly gives you a chance to restart. I know I have changed completely from high school and part of it is because you get to choose how your life is going to look when you get to college. Embrace the change!
7. Volunteer in your local community. At Virginia Tech, our school’s motto is Ut Proism. Which means ‘that I may serve’ and at Virginia Tech, it is something that is taken very seriously. You don’t have to do a lot, but every little bit helps and there are so many benefits for volunteering. A few are: it gives you a sense of purpose, connects you with locals in your town, helps a person in need, adds to your resume and skill set, and you can meet new people. The list for the benefits goes on but find something you are passionate about and go make a difference in that area!
8. Learn when to say no and when to say yes. Saying no will be a great skill to have in many different circumstances. If you are an extrovert like me, you will need to say no even when you want to say yes. Getting involved on campus and doing well in school will take time and dedication which means you have to say no to other things. It may be hard to say no to some of the fun things your friends are doing but time management is so important to be able to balance everything you will want to do. Although, sometimes, you have to say yes. Be wise but take some time off to do something you have always wanted to do or say yes to the daunting opportunity that just presented itself. College is going to be full of many decisions and making wise ones will help you have a great four years!
9. Slow down. Life goes by fast and college seems to go by even faster. I have always known this to be true but having part of a college semester cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic made this all too real. You never know what the next day is going to bring and, in my case, it was leaving for spring break not knowing that you would not be returning. Who knows what life is going to throw at us these next few years but if you enjoy where you are now, later you won’t have any regrets. Take each day one moment at a t
ime and live grateful for what that day brought you.
10. These will be some of the *best* years of your life. I am hesitant to write this one only because when people say that college is the ‘best four years of your life,’ it makes it seem that everything is easy and will go smoothly. Maybe it is just me, but that is how I hear it when someone talks about their past college experience. So, I want to tell you that yes, these years 3, 4 or maybe even 5 years of college will be some of the best years of your life, but they will be hard. You will go through challenges and adversity, times of joy, and excitement, or sadness, and dread. Yet, your time at college will provide so many new opportunities all filled with a chance to grow. You will have many failures but also many successes. Embrace everything that comes your way, knowing that no matter how these years go, they will be remarkable and life changing.
Good luck to all the incoming freshman, know that I am rooting for you!