101: A Year in the Life of a College Freshman

101: A Year in the Life of a College Freshman

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

A Year in the Life of a College Freshman

The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have.

~Dag Hammarskjold

I vividly remember the intensely stressful two-to-three month college acceptance waiting period, when it felt like each trip to the mailbox could determine The Rest of My Life. But, unfortunately, the anxiety didn’t end when I received that glorious thick-enveloped college acceptance letter. Oh, no — far from it. In a way, the stress had just begun.

So many questions, so few answers. Sure, I’d visited my college campus, but it’s not the same as actually going to college, living there, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, nine months a year. Sure, I’d seen movies—but the Hollywood version of high school and the real-life version of high school were two birds of a different feather, so how was I to expect the Hollywood version of college would be anything like the real-life version?

Thus, the questions remained, whirling around inside my head, anxiety tainting the excitement of my approaching independence. But here’s the good news, now, as I look back on my freshman year of college. I cannot imagine a better experience. Read on to follow my transformation from a nervous eighteen-year-old girl into a confident young woman full of school pride.

August: I can’t believe how much energy there is on campus — there is always so much going on, I never want to sleep! This whole month has been full of new experiences — moving into my dorm room, signing up for classes, making new friends, getting my first checking account, eating in the dining halls, getting used to a college lifestyle of late nights and breakfast at noon.

September: My university has more than 600 student organizations, and it is difficult to pick just a couple to get involved with. I admit I overextended myself at first, but I eventually narrowed my involvement down primarily to two volunteer groups I really care about. Along with the joy I receive from helping others, I really enjoy being a part of these groups because I am making friends with other students of all grade levels, majors and personal backgrounds. And it’s a great way to meet people.

October: I contact the Dean of the Masters of Professional Writing program at my school and set up a meeting to introduce myself. The Dean is a world-renowned poet, screenwriter, and director, but he takes time from his busy day to chat with me for more than half an hour about my writing endeavors and college experience thus far. I’ve discovered that professors are often only too happy to help you with questions or problems, or simply get to know you as more than a nameless face in the lecture hall. Go to office hours whenever you get a chance.

November: Six years ago, I created a nonprofit foundation called “Write On” to encourage kids to discover the joys of reading and writing through essay contests, read-a-thons, and my website (www.zest.net/writeon). My ultimate dream is to establish chapters of Write On in all fifty states. With the support of my new classmates and my school’s alumni, my seemingly impossible goal seems much more attainable! I’ve learned how important it is to share your goals — you are sure to find other people at college who share your passions, and who are happy to offer advice and support as you strive to achieve your dreams.

December: Football games have been one of my favorite parts of the fall semester. A friend of mine from high school visited me for a weekend and came to a football game. I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t want to leave on Sunday! The definite highlight of the month was the annual week of festivities centering around the football game against our rival school. Friday night there was a bonfire, where the marching band played, cheerleaders performed, and the hugely popular band Jimmy Eat World gave a concert.

January: I had a wonderful holiday break at home with my family, but I was surprised at how much I missed my school friends and dorm-mates. I remember in high school dreading the end of holiday break, but this year I was so excited to come back to school—the dorm truly has become my “second home.”

February: Giving back is encouraged as part of a well-rounded university education. In this spirit, I join a group of volunteers that hosts prospective students who stay overnight as part of the admissions program. Our job is to give them a taste of the college experience—dinner in the dining hall, a performance by one of the student improv comedy groups, and a night sleeping in the dorms with us. I vividly remember my visit to college as a prospective student, and it is surreal to think that an entire year has already passed since then!

March: I become a part of the “Joint Educational Project” (JEP), a program in which students take what they are learning in class and in turn teach it to others in the community. I am teaching a dozen seventh graders about topics including evolution, natural selection, and Charles Darwin that we are studying in my Biological Anthropology class. I also tutor a group of elementary school students after school once a week, and since many of them speak mostly Spanish, I’m able to use knowledge from my Spanish III class to communicate with them in their primary language and better help them with their homework.

April: I captain a team for the USC Relay for Life, a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. This full-day event entails “teams” of students collecting pledge donations from students, friends and family, and then taking turns walking around the track. Besides raising money, the goal is to raise cancer awareness and to have at least one member of each team on the track at all times for the full twenty-four hours. Hundreds of students camp out into the wee hours of the morning, and it really moves me that so many would give up an entire weekend—during the hectic pre-finals push, no less! — for a cause greater than themselves.

May: As big of a relief as it is to have final exams over with, I don’t want to leave! My dorm hallway is filled with crying girls as we box up our belongings and move out of the rooms we have shared for the past nine months. It is hard to say goodbye to these friends, who have become my second family. We promise to keep in touch over the summer and are already making plans for when we reunite in August for the next chapter of our college journey.

~Dallas Woodburn

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