As my freshman year comes to an end, I have a plethora of stories I could share, both good and bad. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I made a lot of friends and had a lot of fun, but I also made a lot of mistakes. Here is some genuine, wholehearted advice from your not-so-average teenage girl, who can be so smart and yet so naive about the reality of college life at UF:
1) School Comes First
It is really easy to get caught up in the party lifestyle, especially at a party school like UF where people go out everyday. Yes, going out is fun, I’m not going to lie to you. The problem is, in the long run, it hinders your daily routine and productivity. We tend to forget that we came to college for school and a successful future rather than partying. Don’t let the partying be your priority and cloud your judgement. Focus on school, rewards will come later.
2) Don’t Start College In A Relationship
If you have been dating your boyfriend, girlfriend since high school, the best, real, advice that I can give you is: “break up.” College is a completely different ball game. You have a lot more free time and independence than you did in high school. College is the time to make new friends and have your own experiences, without someone to hold you back. That being said, I know couples who do it and make it work without a problem. It is possible, the problem is that at this age, girls and guys want different things and are on extraordinarily different pages.
Honestly, in my experience, going to the same school is harder than doing long distance. Why? Because there is so much time in the day and you’re going to spend most of that time together rather than meeting new people. During my summer and fall semesters, I stayed with my boyfriend from high school because we had been together three years and it felt too difficult to let go. I’m not going to say that I regret it, but I do wish I had taken that time to make friends of my own, and just have time to myself to be able to think about me, my needs, and my future, without constantly worrying about someone else and what they’re doing.
Trust me, it is (usually) for the best, at least in the beginning of college. You miss out on a lot of the college experience if you start off in a relationship, or even with too many of the same people from high school.
3) A Fake ID is NOT Worth It
This is SO important. Remember when you used to tell your mom “everybody’s doing it,” and your mom responded “well, everybody is not my child, you are.” This is one of those times where you need to listen to your mom. I can’t tell you what to do, but my advice to you is, IF you do drink underage, BE CAREFUL. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have either seen or heard about college students getting MIP’s (Minor in Possession) while out, especially on game days. UFPD walks, drives around campus looking for underage drinkers. Sometimes, they will choose random nights where they raid midtown with the sole purpose of catching a student drinking underage. DON’T get caught with a fake ID!!!!
I know that most people in Gainesville have a fake ID, however, most people don’t get caught… but there is a chance that you might. A couple nights out, no matter how fun, is not worth a felony or misdemeanor charge, spending a night in jail, and/or being on probation with UF. So, be safe, go out with people that you know and trust, and always be aware of your surroundings!! Don’t let anything as stupid as a fake ID ruin everything you’ve worked for.
4) Give It A Chance
When I first got to UF, I hated it. UF had been my dream school since I was in elementary school. However, when senior year came around, I became more and more interested in going to school out-of-state. Unfortunately, out-of-state college is REALLY expensive. UF was the most viable option for me and my family. When I started summer B, I was neutral about the school. I was caught up in the fact that I wanted to be in a city in the Northeast. And I never really gave UF (and Gainesville) a chance until spring semester. For me, fall was extremely miserable; I didn’t want to transfer back home, I couldn’t transfer out-of-state because it was too expensive, and yet I wanted to be anywhere but Gainesville. I felt trapped.
Towards the end of fall, I realized I needed to get a grip and be thankful that I attend a top ten public school in the US. From then on, my life did a whole 360. I began making more friends, started exploring Gainesville more, and even convinced my parents to let me bring my car up! Also, I decided that I want to rush a sorority this upcoming fall. I don’t know that I will necessarily like being a part of Greek life, but I am trying to go out of my comfort zone.
Don’t knock it ‘till you try it! I really am eternally grateful to UF for giving me friends that I can’t imagine my life without, an outstanding education with passionate teachers, and the opportunity to study abroad in Fez, Morocco for a whole semester. Like I said, give it a chance, you might actually fall in love with your school like I did.
Looking back, I should have done a lot differently; I should have rushed fall semester, studied more, put myself out there, gotten a job, and worked out a lot more. Unfortunately, time travel has not been invented yet. If there’s anything I have learned, it’s that you need to learn from your mistakes, work on improving yourself, and keep moving. Life doesn’t stop for anyone or anything.