10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year of College

05/01/2015 11:53 am ET | Updated Jun 29, 2015

Freshman year of college: a whirlwind of cramming for exams, binge-watching Netflix, creating new friendships, and finding out who you are in this world. The school year is quickly coming to a close; finals week is next week (shit). It's unreal for me to think about everything I have experienced in the past nine months. I've learned that college is so much more than just the classes. It's an experience like none other, and here's what it taught me.

1. The "Freshman 15" isn't a myth
In every group there is that friend who is eternally hungry and just wants to order a pizza, regardless of the time of day. Next thing you know, you've just ordered a family-size barbeque chicken pizza... for three people. This becomes a constant routine, and all of a sudden your crop tops don't fit anymore. Fret not! Try to eat healthier foods, go to the gym a few times a week, and you'll feel good as new. That doesn't mean you have to completely cut junk food out of your diet (because we all know those 2 am breadsticks are a necessity). Just eat the unhealthy stuff in moderation.

2. College is definitely more challenging than high school
A lot of people could fly below the radar in high school and still get good grades without doing the work. This attitude isn't possible in college. Most of the time you're expected to do readings outside of class, so you basically teach yourself some of the material. If you don't do the work outside of class, it's very easy to fall behind. Some classes rely heavily on tests, so if you bomb one, your grade may not recover. The recipe for success? Go to class, ask your professor for help, and study your ass off. Your GPA will thank you.

3. It's okay to go home for a weekend
I remember in high school everyone talked about how they would "never go home in college." At first I said I would only go home and see my parents for holidays and breaks. We all had this idea that going home in college is lame; if you go home for a weekend, think about the parties and the fun you would miss. The truth? Even if you're the most independent person on this earth, you will miss your family. Taking a weekend to go home, hang out with your family, and eat food not served in a dining hall is actually rejuvenating. We all need a weekend or two away from the "college culture." If you can go home for a few days, do it.

4. You're tired.... All the freaking time
Sleep is a magical unicorn in college. If you get a full eight hours of sleep per night, consider yourself lucky. This doesn't normally happen. There's always going to be an essay to write, a project to do, or a test to study for. On other occasions, you might stay up watching movies with friends and walking to McDonald's at the crack of dawn. While you shouldn't skip the precious memories that are always made after 3 am, if you do get the opportunity to go to bed early one night, don't stay up late watching Parks and Rec on your computer.

5. You will collect a brand new closet
The girls on my floor and I have a saying: "My closet is your closet." Half of the clothes stuffed in my drawers aren't even mine. I thought I was going to need to bring all my clothes from home, but in reality I don't wear half of what I brought. Not only do my clothes take up a lot of space in my itty-bitty dorm room, but also I usually overlook them when I'm ransacking the three other closets I "own."

6. You will lose contact with some of your friends back home
This is one of the most unfortunate truths about college. People you considered to be your best friends in high school will slowly begin to drift away. You all have different schedules, which makes keeping in touch difficult. Don't let the important ones slip through your fingers. Make time for the ones that matter - use phone calls, Facetime, Twitter, Facebook, and other media to share what has been going on in your lives.

7. Not everything you try will work out
There are so many incredible opportunities behind every door in college. There are travel experiences, internship prospects, and more just waiting to be discovered. If something even slightly interests you, apply. Just be careful and don't get your hopes up. As freshmen, we are at the bottom of the totem pole. A lot of these opportunities are unfortunately looking for higher-level students with more experience. You should always apply for whatever your heart desires, but if you ultimately face rejection, don't take it personally. Find something different on campus that interests you. You can always apply again next year once you have more experience.

8. Getting involved on campus is so important
As I said before, something new and interesting lies behind every door. At my university there are over 650 student organizations that you can get involved with. They mean it when they say there is something for everyone. The easiest way to meet new people is by joining a club or two. My best friends and I created an intramural soccer team and had the time of our lives running around in the mud (even though we lost 7-0 because yours truly got stuck as the goalie). By getting involved you are guaranteed to make your best college memories. No one remembers the day they spent 12 hours binge watching a series on Netflix.

9. It's okay to cry sometimes
Just because you're a big, bad college student doesn't mean you can't sit alone in your dorm room and cry. We're all human beings; there will be days where it feels like you just got run over by a fire truck. Maybe you miss your parents. Maybe you failed an important exam. Maybe you just got dumped by a fuckboy. Whatever the situation may be, you don't have to put on a brave face. Go to your dorm room and cry your eyes out. It's therapeutic, and it's one of the only ways to survive college with your sanity in tact.

10. Time flies
It still blows my mind that I am sitting here reminiscing about what I learned my freshman year of college. It still feels like I moved in last week. So much has changed in the past nine months, but I know it's changed for the better. I spent so much time anxiously waiting for my college career to start, and it's crazy to think it's already ¼ of the way over. The only advice I can give is sit back and enjoy the ride. Enjoy every moment of your freshman year, because before you know it, you're going to be lying on the floor of your packed up dorm room crying your eyes out and wondering how you could ever call anywhere else home.