University intake is in progress and soon first years will arrive with their new clothes and the latest kicks but little do they know what lies ahead for them. So freshers, as you pack your suitcases and leave the security of your parents’ home and leave the nest to explore the world, here are some pointers to help you along the way. My mother, God bless her heart, has been a close friend so she did not shy away from telling me of the dangers of college, so I will pass some of her wisdom as well as my own, though I do not claim to be.
1. Take your time; do not rush to find your place
The first semester goes by fast. Even after graduating, I still remember how strange it felt to be away from home being accountable to no one but myself. Always remember “with great freedom comes great responsibility”. The first semester is your first true taste of what life is really like; free and decision-filled. So make sure that you analyze every situation carefully and make the right decision for you. Later in life, you will not regret not going to a silly party that did not add value to your life but you will be happy you studied instead and got an A in the midterm. It is important to differentiate between short-term pleasures and long-term happiness.
2. Keep your friends close
A pivotal part of college life is the friendships you make along the way. I am reminded by a quote by Socrates “be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.” I personally think that one does not need a whole crew to be happy; having one or two quality friendships will be more beneficial. A support system that comes along with true friendships is vital in college and life beyond.
Choosing friends can be tricky especially if you are painfully shy but it does get easier. You may relate with people in your group during orientation week forming friendships that last the test of time. Sometimes, you could even make friends through sports or even on the lunch line as you wait for your Chapo madondo at the cafeteria.
I must point out though, that it is importance that you make good friends because this will affect the kind of experience you have in college. Therefore having deep meaningful friendships that provide support, shared values and where you can be yourself cannot be taken for granted.
3. Keep a balanced lifestyle
I have noticed that many college students are more interested in partying and drinking. Nothing wrong with a little fun. But it will be a waste of time if you have nothing to show after 4 years in college. In fact, it might have more demerits, taking away from your life instead of adding more value to it.
“Ponyoka na fresha” is real, so be prepared to go into the madness that is also known as Gold Rush. If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, it is when the older students prey on freshmen at the beginning of every semester. It might be worse in some universities than in others but either way one must be prepared. Be alert and take things seriously with an eye on the future. The best clubs to go to are clubs like AIESEC and SIFE which will open your mind and opportunities for you in future.
College is basically about finding balance. A sense of equilibrium is crucial is ensuring that your time is well spent creating the best memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. A well rounded experience is what you should strive for. Do not be afraid of making mistakes because that is how you learn and usually make for great stories later in life however I must insist that do not make the same mistake twice. It is crucial that you do not let your academics suffer because of your social life and vis versa.
4. Beware of the ‘gold rush
This is especially for chics, but also for young guys. You will be hit on by older students. Maybe you are not used to this kind of attention and your esteem might be boosted but be wary of smooth-talking students who have been waiting for the ‘gold rush’ when young sweet and impressionable freshers join campus. It is advisable that you learn to read in between the lines and deal with it accordingly. Always make sure you do not go to parties alone. Things can escalate quickly at a party where drugs are put in unsuspecting young naïve girls, so keep your eyes peeled and never leave anything to chance.
5. Keep off drugs
“So what we get drunk, So what we smoke weed,
We’re just having fun, We don’t care who sees,
So what we go out, that’s how it’s supposed to be
Living young and wild and free” Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg
This might be the anthem for college life, but beware because things can go downhill very fast under the guise of “having fun.” In the process, you might lose yourself and the whole point of college. It is important that even as you ‘search for yourself’, you are aware that “to find yourself, think for yourself” – Socrates. Do not be a follower, take the path less travelled and make the most of your time in college to broaden your thinking and enrich your experiences.
Finally, Do not forget to seize the day, carpe diem!!!!