What I Wish I Knew: Reflections on Campus Life From a Senior to a Freshman

Being a college freshman can be challenging, from adapting to college-level learning, to eating campus food every day, to catching the trolley after chapel. After all those lessons learned, one day you arrive at the end of your undergraduate experience—and, for me, that day has come. As a graduating senior, I’ve been reflecting on what I wish I knew as a freshman: What knowledge could I share to ease the challenges for those just beginning their time in college? I hope these tips about college and campus life are helpful as you move through your academic journey.

You are not alone.

Homesick? Want new roommates? Can’t handle your homework load? You are not alone! For some reason, everyone in college decides to struggle silently, but in reality, we all go through many of the same issues. If you are having difficulty, reach out to someone! Do not be ashamed. We have all been there. I was a mess at the beginning, but talking to roommates, faculty, and staff opened up a support system I thought I would never have—and I am better off for it, even today.

Your professors are more than just grade-givers.

Faculty are there to teach and guide your learning, but they also truly want to help you succeed and speak truth into your life. Almost every professor I had felt called to make a difference in the classroom, mentoring students like you and me. Invest your time in building relationships with your professors—not just for free coffee or lunch, but to create meaningful and genuine relationships. Utilize their expertise in your field of study, access their network of connections to get internships or jobs upon graduation, and simply absorb the wisdom they bring to each season of life you find yourself in.

It’s okay to not have life mapped out.

The primary question you get asked as a freshman (and still as a senior) is, “What do you want to do?” If your response is, “I have no clue,” you are not the only one, and there’s nothing wrong with you. I wish someone had told me that it’s completely okay to not know what you want to study, what you want to do, or even what you hope or aspire to become. You have so much time to figure out your interests, even after you graduate! Use the time between now and then to research careers, learn about job responsibilities you like and dislike, apply to a new internship each year, and explore jobs that fit your strengths.

Don’t blink!

Your last semester is right around the corner. It may not feel that way, but if you blink, you might just miss the next eight (or more) semesters of your academic journey. I encourage you to soak it all in—go to every Christmas and end-of-the-year chapel, join that club you heard about, participate in an intramural sport, befriend that kid in your class. There are so many events and APU traditions that I wish I took part in sooner, or more often. You are only an undergraduate student once, so take advantage of these campus life opportunities while you can, and savor every moment. One day, not long from now, it will be you crossing that stage on graduation day.