An open letter to first-year students: What you won’t expect


When coming to college there’s a lot you can expect. You probably expect the classes to be hard and to have an obnoxious amount of homework.

You probably expect to make some new friends and talk to people you typically would not have. You may even expect to join some new clubs or never get homesick.

But there are also things you likely did not expect when coming to college and certainly experienced while here. This is a compiled list of the things I personally didn’t expect when coming to college or things high school did not prepare me for.

  1.    Time management

In college, smart time management is crucial. When you are on your own, you regulate your schedule. If you procrastinate on assignments or overbook yourself, things such as meals and exercise can quickly take a back seat.

There is no mom to nag you to eat three nutritious meals a day while at college, or a dad to force you to stay in one night because you have unfinished homework.

When you eat, do schoolwork,  participate in clubs and hangout with friends are all up to you, and it is quite the responsibility to have.

  1.    Independence

You may expect more freedom while away at college, but you may not expect the significant amount of independence that comes with it.

You do not always have someone to sit with at lunch–let alone a scheduled time to have lunch. Sometimes you have to walk to class by yourself and some days you are too busy to spend time with friends.

And that is perfectly okay. Sometimes things have to be done on your own.

It is also perfectly okay to put yourself and your responsibilities first.

Most likely, you will not be able to go home every weekend, and it is important to recognize this independence in order to take care of yourself.

  1. Personal values & beliefs

With college comes a lot of exposure and freedom. Odds are you will come across certain situations and circumstances you have never had to deal with before.

College is a completely different environment than high school.  Things you personally believe in and value may be tested or called into question by other people, and that can be a really frightening thing.

People living right next door may live completely a completely different lifestyle.  

Throughout absolutely everything, remember who you are and what you believe. But do not let anyone or anything change that or make you feel bad for valuing different things. Stay true to yourself above all and never change for anyone or anything. Those worth having in your life will respect you and never make you feel devalued for your beliefs.

  1.     Leaving your comfort zone

In high school it is incredibly easy to fall into cliques. It is fairly common to sit with the same people at lunch everyday and only those people. You see many of the same people for seven hours a day, five days of the week.

Some people leave high school afraid to encounter what they are not used to and nervous at the idea of making new friends.

But there is no need for alarm.

College is full of diverse people. And odds are, you will find people you are compatible with–people you enjoy spending time with.

Try signing up for clubs and activities you have never done before. Butler University specifically offers a variety of ways to get involved. When you enter college, you realize the importance of putting yourself out there. After you do so, an abundance of opportunities and people will come along.

  1.     Opportunities.

I think it is pretty safe to say that college offers way more clubs and extracurricular activities than high school did.

In college, these organizations are absolutely pivotal opportunities to make friends, connections and gain experience.

College truly begins to feel like home away from home the more you get involved on campus. It is super easy to feel alone or isolated if you do not put yourself out there. Not to mention these opportunities bring incredible growth and useful skill sets along with them.

I have said it before and I will say it again: you get out of college what you put into it. I have yet to hear someone complain about the lack of opportunities at Butler. With the hundreds of clubs offered, there is bound to be at least one to interest you.

Every person has a different and unique experience in college. Ultimately, there are going to be things you will to learn on your own. These were just a few of the major concepts that I did not expect or prepare for.

While here, you may feel caught off guard or worried at times. But you are in a brand new environment and no one expects you to have everything together. You are certainly not alone, and with Butler’s community of care, you will not have to feel so.

College is truly what you make it, and I hope everyone’s first year taught them as much as it taught me.