Getting SO nostalgic over here. The picture above is of my roommates from college – truly lifelong best friends. The best encouragers no matter the distance.
It’s so stinkin’ weird that I graduated college over two years ago and that I have to diiiiiigg for old photos. When did this happen?! My time at Texas A&M was a whirlwind – so much fun, so much stress, and so many memories. When May 2015 rolled around I was SO dang ready to graduate – I was ready to move to Dallas, start my first full-time job, and marry my mega-babe husband. I drove out of College Station on graduation day with zero regrets – I made the best friendships and memories, but goodness that was through learning A LOT.
I’ve talked about this before, but I focused way too much on the extra curricular in college – AKA academic organizations – and the bad grades just sort of started rolling in. I did really well in high school and was SHOCKED at how hard it was for me to adjust at A&M. Academically, I’ve got some advice for ya. Relationally, I’ve DEFINITELY got some advice for ya. (We couldn’t go through this without boy-talk right?)
I wouldn’t change a thing looking back, but I definitely wish someone would’ve told me (or that I would have listened to) the things I’m sharing below.
So to all of my girls starting college this semester, these are the things I want you to know.
Here we go.
1. Get plugged into a church immediately.
I’m talking first week y’all. I’m so serious. Do not waste time. Get yourself to church. Make friends there and it will change your college experience. I never got suuuper plugged in anywhere – I attended regularly, but never got plugged in. Get plugged in.
2. Don’t change who you are for any organization, sorority, or even bible study.
My college experience could be summed up by which organizations I was in – it was everything to me. It’s where I met most of my friends and certainly where I spent most of my time. I know how easy it is to lose your identity in belonging to one (or many). Maybe it’s a sorority, an academic organization, or intramurals – whatever you choose to join or not join – don’t feel the need to adapt who you are to fit in. There are going to be so many groups to join throughout the next 4+ years and you should join them exactly as you are right now. Don’t start dressing or acting a certain way to belong – it will end up just making you feel gross. Find people who like you exactly how you are already.
3. Learn to say no.
Oh younger Caitlin – why did you never learn this?! PLEASE learn how to do this as early as possible. Say no to plans you don’t really want to do, say no to the guy you don’t want to go out with, and say no to going to lame parties you don’t want to go to. Just say no. Own it.
4. Girlfriend, study.
College WILL BE harder than high school no matter how well you did. I learned this the hard way. The really hard way at one point. College will test your ability to learn, study, and prioritize. You have to choose studying over Netflix or hanging out with friends – not all of the time, but a little bit every single day. Even if you’re mega smart or just don’t need to study that much – you’re parents or you are paying way too much to waste an education. DON’T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED IT’S WHY YOU’RE THERE.
5. You don’t have to go out with every guy who asks you out.
Oh goodness, freshman Caitlin. I don’t know why, but I was SO flattered when older guys would ask me out, I would literally always go out with them or at least entertain the idea. WHY. I think I just wasn’t used to the idea of dating people I didn’t know? (tiny private school problems). It took me way too long and way too many awkward dates to learn how to tell someone I wasn’t interested. You don’t have to go out with someone you’re not interested in – even if they’re super nice and you don’t want to hurt their feelings. It’s much nicer to say no from the get-go.
6. Hangout with people who make you better.
I’ll keep this one simple. Hang out with people who value your education as much as theirs, who want you to be successful, and value your integrity, too. Don’t hangout with people who want to change you or take advantage of you. make friends with people who encourage you and are there for you at 2:00 am when you run out of gas a mile away from home. Make friends who know when you need to pause life and have a blast. Make friends with people who make up dances with you in the car and certainly make friends with people who will cry with you and let you sleep in their bed when you have boy problems. Those people end up changing your life.
7. Make time for Jesus everyday.
You’re lying if you say you don’t have time. This doesn’t mean an hour or even half an hour every day – just make some time every single day. Here’s the truth: you’re going to struggle in college – in some way or another. The academics might test you, a relationship, friends, etc. You WILL need Jesus. You will radically change your entire college experience if you incorporate Jesus. It’s crazy how many people lose their faith in college, but honestly I get it. College changes your life in every way and it can be hard to balance, but having Godly friends and accountability early on is a game changer. Going through the trials of college with Jesus is much, much easier. See point number one on how to do this. 🙂 P.S. Jordan Lee of SoulScripts has some AMAZING resources for college girls – I wish I would’ve had these.
Here’s the thing: college really is as amazing as everyone says it is. You’re about to have so much fun and make some of the most special memories of your life. Keep Jesus as your best friend, hangout with people who genuinely love you, and hit the books on the reg and you’ll be alright. OH, and call your Mom and Dad as much as you can.
Since I had a BLASTY BLAST in college I had to share some college mems – all sorts of embarrassing + precious pictures below!!
– Caitlin –
^my actual first day of college LOLOL