Toby’s Top 10’s – Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman

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By Toby Leigh

The 2022-2023 school year has officially begun! For a lot of people, this is a time of firsts. This is the truest for the freshmen here at Mac, who are all trying their best to learn the ropes of being students, as well as transitioning from high school to college.  

Goodness knows I struggled, being a freshman. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I started my Freshman year. I hope this list might help you not make the same mistakes I did. 

10. Time Management Is The Name of The Game 

College is extremely overwhelming. Not only do you have classes, but you also have work, extracurriculars, and sports. It’s a lot, but don’t panic. Instead, devise a time management strategy that works for you. There are several strategies out there, and it’s worth it to try out a lot to see what you like. The only thing I’d tell you not to do is wing-it. If you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to balance all of the things you need to get done, you’re going to become overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan, it just has to be some method of organization. 

9. Get To Know The Town 

If you stay on-campus all the time, you’re going to become rather sick of your surroundings quickly. The best advice I can give you is to get to know the town outside of the college. McPherson may be small, but there are some things to do. Go walking around Main Street! Visit a second-hand store! Go to the movies! Heck, even just going to the store can help this town feel a little less small! 

8. It’s Okay to Change Your Major 

When I was a freshman, I came in thinking I had everything all figured out. I was going to major in one thing, I was going to go into that field! 

…And then I realized I absolutely hated it after taking classes for my major.  

The moral of this story? Learn about what you actually want to do, and do what you actually care about. 

7. Do Things Outside of Studying and Work 

Your job and studies are important, but please take some time to do things that bring you joy. This can be adventuring with the Adventures Club, or simply doing your hobbies. All work and no play will drive you nuts, and even though it’s important to get things done, you shouldn’t work yourself to death. Please, have fun and don’t be miserable. 

6. You’re Going to Need a Water Filter 

When I was a freshman, I thought “Oh, I’m a tough girl! A little tap water won’t kill me!” but that was before I tasted Kansas tap water. It’s kind of grody. It’s not harmful, but it’s not very fun to drink. One way to avoid drinking the tap water is to buy some prepackaged water bottles, but the problem with that is that water bottles are expensive, hard to lug to your dorm room, and harm the Earth. A water pitcher might be a little more expensive at first, but it will pay for itself in no time.  

5. Don’t Stress Too Much About Not Being Adult Enough 

If you’re like me, your first steps into the college world might have made you feel “not adult” enough. It seems like so many people around you aren’t hot messes, that they know at least something about what they’re doing. You might feel like just a kid. Here’s the good though: I assure you that EVERYBODY feels like they’re still “just a kid”. You’re never fully “grown up”, not even when you graduate.  

4. You Actually Have to Try 

Throughout my years of non-compulsory education, I could coast through everything. Sadly, in college, you can’t “coast”, you have to try your best. It’s okay if you aren’t getting straight As, I just want you to try your best. After all, your best is all you can do. 

3. Make Friends 

College can be an incredibly lonely time, especially if you’re coming from far away. Find community in those around you, because it sucks if you don’t have friends. I know making friends is hard, but you will find your people in your own good time. 

2. You Don’t Have to “Earn” Being Tired 

Sometimes, you’re just burnt out. Everybody has their limits, and you’re no exception. I know it’s hard to do your best all the time, especially when it feels like you have so many expectations on you. But don’t forget that you are more than just a student, an employee, an athlete…You’re a human. Humans need to sleep, eat, and bathe. Don’t deny yourself any of these things because “you haven’t earned them”, because you don’t have to. 

  1. It’s Okay to Be Upset 

College is a tumultuous time. You’re in a new place, surrounded by people you don’t know, taking classes that challenge you, and maybe feeling more alone than ever. I remember that during my freshman year, I felt the exact same way. 

You aren’t alone, and you are going to survive this. It’s hard, and you’re not bad for feeling like garbage. Your feelings are your own, and I’m not going to invalidate them by saying that you have to be happy all the time. Being upset is okay, and you need to let yourself feel before you let yourself heal.