Well, my first semester of college has officially come to a close. With how fast this semester went, I’m a little scared to think about how quickly I’m sure the rest of them will fly by! I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally ready to leave Hope. I really think it is the perfect place for me. So, with that being said, the thought of only having a few years here, while exciting in some ways, is also scary and sad. College is a season of our lives that really is only meant to last a few years, but so far, it has been a great journey! I am so thankful that this journey I’m on is taking place at Hope because there is nowhere I’d rather be.
Now, after saying that, I think there are a few things every college student should do to really make your first semester great. Granted, there are definitely things I wish I would have or could have done this semester (like going to the Aaron Carter concert in Grand Rapids… I’m still a little bitter about that one), but this is the stuff that I really found made a difference in my college experience this semester!
Make A (ONE. AT LEAST ONE. SERIOUSLY. JUST ONE.) Friend
I will be the first to say that I find myself to be pretty terrible at making friends. I don’t really know why, but it’s just never been my strong suit. When you first come to college, there are going to be hundreds of eager freshmen all running around trying to make friends, and after a few days, you’re already going to start to see friend groups emerge. People will be acting like lifelong best friends when really they’ve only known each other for like 19.3 seconds sometimes. It’s actually really confusing. For me, it’s really hard to find things to say or to make an impression in situations like this, so for a week or two I thought I was never going to have friends at college. After talking to other people, however, I figured out that a lot of people felt this way. This feeling can be scary. But, have no fear! I made friends, and so did those other people. I know that because some of them are my friends. I know that sometimes it’s easy to think that you don’t necessarily need to make friends at school because you’re still in touch with those at home (trust me, I’ve been there), but you have no idea how valuable these friends will become. Not only will you become friends with people you have more in common with than you could imagine, but sometimes you will need to talk to someone who is there with you. You’ll need to talk to someone about something going on in your hometown who is outside of the situation, or someone who knows what’s going on at school, or someone who can give you a hug at that moment. And you will probably need to be that person for someone else too. People value someone who will listen, and I’ve found that that’s a great way to build your friendships. If you’re not a big talker or you don’t generally have a lot to say, just listen. You never know what great friendships you might build this way!
P.S.: Don’t necessarily listen to the people that say you’ll never be friends with your roommate. It’s different for everyone, but my roommate happens to be one of my best friends and I could not be more thankful to be living with her!
Try Something New
Your first semester of college, do something that makes your life feel different. Better. Richer. Fuller. Happier. Or, if you’re like me, don’t do some things. In high school, I was in everything. Really. EVERYTHING. Coming into college, I knew that I wanted things to be different. Being in absolutely everything is way too stressful to be worth it. So, this semester, I did less. A lot less. And I could not be happier about it. Doing less is something that is very, very new to me, and at times this semester, I definitely felt like I was doing something wrong. After being so involved in high school, it’s been really weird to actually have free time, but I love it! I know that for most people, college is way more stressful than high school ever was, but for me, I don’t think that could be further from the truth. I had such a relaxed semester, especially after just coming off of pretty much the most stressful senior year I could imagine. But, I also think it’s important to try something totally new! I started taking voice lessons this semester, which I’ve never done before, and I love them! Hope has a ton of awesome opportunities to join clubs and organizations that many high schools don’t offer, like sailing club, outdoor adventure club, a radio station, and more!
Question Your Major
Are you really in college if you don’t question your major at least once? Some freshmen come into college having no idea what they’re going to major in, and that’s fine. It’s important to figure that out at some point, but if you don’t know first semester, it’s not a big deal. If you’re like myself and have been dead-set on a certain major for years, it might really, REALLY freak you out when one day you sit down and realize that this might not be what you want to do for the rest of your life. At only 18 years old, you might think, who am I to make such big life decisions? I have that moment all the time, but one thing that I’ve learned to trust is that God has a plan, and his will is going to be done in your life no matter what your major is. You might be a math major and get called to do missions in South America in a few years. You might be a music major and at some point start to feel that maybe opening a business is the best way to serve God in your life. God doesn’t call the qualified, but he qualifies the called. That’s not to say that your major doesn’t matter; It should be something that you truly enjoy. However, just because you’re involved in a specific academic program, you are not necessarily boxed into doing something in that field for your entire life. For me, questioning my major actually helped me to eventually feel even more confident about it. It forced me to really think, and that’s not always a bad thing.
Keep in Touch
While it’s important to make new friends, don’t forget about the people who are at home! First and foremost, make sure to keep in touch with your parents. They worry about you if they don’t hear from you. I’m not gonna lie about the fact that I call my parents almost every day, always for a different reason! We also have a group text with my whole family that we use pretty often (although sometimes I check my phone after class and have 17 unread messages from it!). I also talk to my best friend from home all the time, and I try to keep in contact with various other people from high school at least once in a while too. I also make sure to call my grandparents… Talking to them always brightens my day! People from home want to know what’s going on in your life, and make sure you’re keeping up on what they’re doing, too!
The reason you’re at college is to get an education. Make sure you do your work. Go to class. Treat every single homework assignment like your grade depends on it. If you have to miss class because you’re sick, email your teacher as soon as you know you won’t be there. Most professors will tell you what they did in class that day and let you email any assignments to them that were due that day, and they can give you the homework they assigned that day as well. I cannot stress enough how important it is to go to class! And if you’re struggling in any classes, get a tutor (Hope offers them for free!) and/or stop by and talk to your professor. They want you to do well, so they’re willing to help!
Find a Church
There are about a million and six churches in Holland! I would encourage you to visit a few in the first few weeks of school and settle on one to attend weekly. If you don’t have a car, there are some within walking distance of campus (like Pillar Church, where I go!) and some that will pick you up on campus and take you to their church. Churches in the community love to have Hope students, so they’re pretty accommodating! I would also encourage you to take advantage of the chapel service that is offered on campus three times a week, as well as the Gathering on Sunday nights!
Thanks for reading! Make sure to leave me a comment, tweet @hopekathryn17, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven… Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end… And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11, 14