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Freshman Advice: 3 Lessons I Learned My First Semester of College

I currently attend Hampton University as a strategic communication major with a dual minor in leadership studies and political science. Unlike most of my friends, my college journey started about two weeks after graduation and was exactly 531 miles away from home. From the first moment, this journey has helped me grow tremendously. So here are the three main lessons I have learned in my first semester of college.

Advice For College Freshmen: First Semester of College

1. There’s no place like home.

One of my biggest regrets during my senior year is not cherishing each moment at home. I miss things such as eating fresh fruit and sharing giggles with my little brother. I have gained a strong appreciation for my parents along with the people who have helped me become a college woman. My parents have poured a lot of energy, love, and money into me and I am thankful for them each day. Without their support, I wouldn’t be in college today.

In addition to my parents, my guidance counselor, and many mentors also helped to shape me as an individual. They provided me with the tools to be the best college student. For example, my guidance counselor made me write on a post-it “I am not perfect.” She instilled a mentality that I’m not perfect but still destined for greatness. This has helped me push through a 7:00 am class and a difficult biology teacher.

I’m feeling so nostalgic about coming home that, instead of texting in the car, I plan on singing along with my dad and his old school hip-hop music.

2. Spend money wisely.

Yes! I do miss my mother’s home cooked nacho dip, but what I miss the most is that it is FREE! During my first weeks in college, I spent the majority of my money on food. Cafeteria food isn’t very tasty or healthy, but it is free (well, my parents did pay for it, but it’s free for me) so that makes it way better than having no money on a Saturday night.

College has taught me the value of a dollar. I’ve become more careful about how I spend my bi-weekly allowance. I actually created a budget (which is weird). As a college student, there are many things that I have to pay for now, such as laundry. If I could go back in time, I definitely would have saved more money.

3. Grades aren’t everything.

There is much more to life than getting a perfect score on a chemistry test. Instead of striving to learn the material in high school, I just wanted to receive the highest test grade possible on the test. As I entered college, this approach became a major setback. I found myself stressing over my grades without worrying about learning, mostly because I need good grades in order to keep my scholarship. But, I am learning that if I don’t understand the material, in the long run, my scholarship will be useless.

I’m not saying that grades don’t matter. I’m saying that there are other valuable lessons beyond the classroom. I recognize the value in building relationships with professors; gaining experience from participating in organizations; and forming meaningful relationships. All of this will allow me to be prepared for internships and my career. All of this will lead to achieving my dreams.

I have a new motto—I will not make the graveyard wealthier. The graveyard is the wealthiest place in the world because there are many inventions, businesses, and brilliant ideas buried there. By appreciating my past, understanding the value of a dollar, and taking full of advantage of my opportunities, I hope to ensure that my dreams and aspirations will not be buried.

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