Freshman Survival Guide: 5 Tips You Won't Find in an Orientation Manual

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It's September, and that means that a whole new class of students is preparing to begin the newest chapter in their educational careers: college.

I remember what it was like getting ready for freshman year. You've probably bought 100 pounds worth of groceries, packed and re-packed your clothes ten times to ensure that you haven't forgotten anything, and triple-checked your freshman welcome packet because you don't want to be that person who gets lost on the first day.

But, take it from a someone who survived freshman year: It will be okay. Yes, there is a lot of change that happens during your first year of college, but it's nothing to be afraid of.

A little nervous though? Sure! So here are a handful of tips we hope will help you to embark on your undergraduate journey:

1. Your parents are going to cry...be okay with it.
There's no avoiding this – I'm dead serious. Understand that this is a new beginning for them, as well. While you're gearing up to leave the house and learn to be independent, they're learning how to let you be independent. For 18 years, you've been their baby and they've been your sole providers and protectors. They have to figure out what they're going to do with themselves when they're no longer waiting to make sure you get home before your curfew.

2. You don't have to be best friends with every person you meet.
The only thing scarier to most freshmen than living away from home is the fear of not having friends to enjoy your first year with.

What happens as a result? Freshmen CLING to the first people that they encounter, convinced that these people are the ones that they will cherish and be friends with for all of eternity. And while that sometimes winds up being the case, most times when you friend someone just to make yourself look like you have an instant squad, that friendship stands no chance of lasting.

So, yes, be friendly and try to make friends. But be mindful of what you like (and, more importantly, what you dislike) in a person and don't be afraid to cut someone loose if they prove to go against what you look for in a friend.
3. You're a student first. Hospitality management may be a major, but partying isn't.
You're going to encounter people who will deny this fact, but it's something worth remembering. College is very freeing and that freedom is something to celebrate...just don't celebrate TOO much.

Many students fall into the party scene and find that their academics take a backseat, as a consequence. Partying is a privilege, a nice perk to college life – don't let it be the reason that you are no longer granted enrollment. Remember: your education is the thing that will take you places in life; not your outfit, dance moves, or ability to take a ten shots in the local bar.
4. You can say NO...no one will care like they did in high school.
We all remember how, in high school, if you went to a party and refused to drink, the entire class would begin to talk about how much of a dud or party pooper you were...

But college is a different game. Yes, there will be some pressure to drink or party, but saying "no" doesn't mean that you'll be exiled or ostracized for the next four years. Understand that you're an adult now. And with that, comes the luxury of asking for what you want and refusing the things that you really don't want.

Say YES when you want to and NO when you don't want to. Speak with confidence and your peers will have no choice but to accept that.
5. Acceptance is the only way to really enjoy college.
Everyone wants to be loved and accepted for who they are. However, how can we expect other people to accept us if we don't accept ourselves first?

The greatest thing about college is that, through every challenge, you learn more about yourself – what you can and can't do/tolerate/achieve. This time is for you to learn about who you are and fall in love with that person.

Once you love yourself, you'll be surprised by how many people follow suit.

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