Is it often said that people “find themselves” in college. People go off to college, meet new people, have new experiences, go new places and can come back as complete strangers. Because of its changing environment, its guaranteed that you will have to adapt in college. While I agree with that last statement, I have to disagree that people “find themselves” in college. I believe that you are and always will be who you started out being and when new things or people come, they only change the way you look at these new people or things. While your perspective and thought process will change, your foundation and roots most likely won’t and if they do, here are ten things that will ensure you don’t lose yourself in college, when you were actually trying to “find yourself.”
- Stay connected to old friends. Keep your old friends updated about everything going on your new college life. They will help to keep you grounded by being honest with you if you do something that doesn’t seem quite like you. Old friends who have also just started to attend college may be going through the same things you are. This could sparks discussion between the two of you, bringing you closer together, and therefore solidifying the foundation of who you are.
- Find a mentor. Find someone who gives great advice on college because they’ve been through it before. For example, me. Subscribe to this blog and stay updated.
- Pick an accountability partner. Find one friend that will hold you accountable for your actions and be extremely honest with them. Make sure it’s someone you trust.
- If you attended church before, don’t stop going. People don’t give church the credit it’s due. Going to and being active in church promotes consistency, which is transferable to all areas of life. Not only that but it is intrinsically rewarding to do work for the church. Having a relationship with God holds you accountable spiritually as well, which will keep you morally sound in college.
- Stay close with family members. Keep the communication open between you and your parents or guardian open. A lot of people do not feel they can talk to their parents/guardians, but this is a common misconception among young adults. Once you’re away, your parents will miss you and while in the beginning you won’t want to talk to them everyday, you eventually will start missing them and this will be the perfect time to fill them in on every part of your new life. While you may not agree with everything they have to say, be open to it all. You never know when you will need to use their advice. Also, parents are a lot more open to what you have to say during this period of your life, because they realize you are becoming an adult.
- Join organizations that represent the person you were before you started college. i.e. Christian organizations, save-the-environment organizations, student government organizations, etc. These organizations will remind you of what you believed in before you started college. While some experiences, people you meet, or classes you take may challenge these beliefs, (which is normal and healthy), being around other people who believe in the same things you do will help you to figure out is some of these beliefs are worth keeping. Any of those beliefs that are rooted and grounded in who you see yourself being as a person are definitely worth keeping.
- Take caution before joining sororities or fraternities in college. Do your research first. While some of these organizations might be really fun or cool to join and might actually benefit the community, others may go against what you believe, or go against your standards in general. Find the right one for you. If you decide that you would much rather be an individual than apart of a group, this is fine too. This just means you are comfortable with who you are.
- Make new friends and be honest with them about who you are. Making new friends can be tricky. Of course you want to impress them and find things you have in common with them, but be yourself. Don’t do/say anything you wouldn’t normally do/say. Be honest and be open to who they are as well. Listen more than you talk, so that if it isn’t a great fit, you can quietly move on to the next. This way you aren’t sharing that much about yourself upfront, because if you do you are disclosing a lot about yourself, strengthening a connection with someone you may not be compatible with. Disclosure is one of the key principles when forming new relationships with people. So, listen first and disclose later.
- Be a mentor/tutor. Hold yourself accountable by being a mentor to someone else. When someone is looking up to you, you don’t want to disappoint them and most likely you won’t.
- Don’t allow dumb sayings like “You Only Live Once” or YOLO to peer pressure you into doing something you wouldn’t normally do. Dumb sayings usually precede dumb behavior. Not to say you shouldn’t have new experiences, but be sensible when you do. If everyone is jumping off a cliff and dying, it’s not rocket science that you wouldn’t do such a thing if you don’t want to die also. Always think of the consequences before you make risky decisions.
What other nuggets of advice can alumni give to people who will be attending college for the first time this fall? Share them in the comment section below.