It’s scary. Packing up your things and moving out of your house, saying goodbye to your best friends, your peers and your teachers and saying goodbye to your parents.
You may start thinking, “I don’t know if I can do this. What if nobody likes me and I don’t fit in?”
Newsflash: these two thoughts cross everyone’s mind once or twice before coming to college.
During my time here at Slippery Rock University, I’ve learned two little secrets that can make college the best years of your life.
If you’re already an open-minded individual, you can stop reading here. If you’re a scared freshman, open-mindedness comes at a very different level in college.
Your morals and beliefs will definitely be tested over the years while you’re in college, and while it’s very important to hold onto those beliefs and morals, it’s just as important to accept other’s beliefs and realize that they are different from yours.
If you aren’t totally immersed in the LGBT community, or you have opposing feelings about the LGBT community, I challenge you to go to a RockOUT meeting. Sit, listen, hear their stories and make new friends.
If you aren’t a feminist, go to a Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance meeting.
If you’re white, go to a Bla ck Action Society meeting. If you hate politics, get involved in the Student Government Association. If you’re an art major, go to a Law Society meeting.
College is all about thinking outside the box and opening yourself up to new experiences. Often times, you find enjoyment in the things you never thought you would.
Remember the saying, “opposites attract?”
It’s true. Sometimes the people who are most different from you can be the best friends you’ve ever had.
Being open-minded also means staying away from stereotypes.
Not all white people are racist, not all black people are mean and homophobic and not all Latinos are rambunctious and loud.
In my opinion, one of the worst things a freshman can do when they come to college is judge someone based on their appearance or based on their ethnicity or race.
Give someone a chance to share their story before counting them out. You never know what someone went through or what someone is currently going through by just looking at them. You might be surprised.
During your first year of college, while everyone is trying to make friends, the best advice I wish I could have given my 18-year-old self is to find myself.
Often times, I find that it’s hard for someone to respect others if they can’t even respect themselves.
But here’s the other secret that can make college the best years of your life.
Don’t just agree with something because you’re afraid someone is going to have a different opinion than you. Here’s another newsflash: we’re all different, and we’re all going to have different opinions.
Say how you feel and defend yourself, because more than likely, someone is thinking the same thing you are, but is afraid to say it as well.
One of the most powerful things that you have is your voice, so use it. You’re going to be misunderstood along the way, but that gives you a chance to explain your reasoning to people who you would’ve never interacted with had you not spoken up.
If you made it this far, I commend you and I really hope you learned something while reading this.
My overall message to you, the class of 2020, is to join clubs you never thought you would join. Talk to people who are different than you. Go out of the country while you can and learn about different cultures. Be open-minded and accepting. Be outspoken, fearless and unstoppable. College is what you make it, so make the best of it, before it’s too late.