My baby sister is graduating from high school in just a few short weeks.
Perhaps the word “baby” is the wrong word to describe the relationship between my sister and myself, as we’re only a year and a half apart in age. Yet, for some reason this small age gap always felt much larger than just a year a half, or so was the case until a few years ago. Once she finally caught up to me in size and we could finally start sharing the same clothes (prior to her growth spurt we were the Norwegian-girl version of David and Goliath. Not even kidding) she also “somewhat” caught up to me in maturity as well. Something shifted when she finally “caught up” to me: she went from being my “little sister” – someone who always picked on and annoyed me, to my “best friend” – someone who I could tell and relate with about nearly everything and anything. However, all along she has always been someone who has never failed to make me laugh about the most ridiculous of things, many a times making me shake with so much joyous laughter that my belly would ache and my eyes would water from the insanity of the moment. Sisters have a way of doing that to one another; they simply get each other without any explanation necessary. Perhaps it’s partially because of the shared DNA as well as shared experiences and upbringing, but there is undoubtedly a special connection between sisters.
But back to what (or more specifically whom) I was originally talking about.
This girl, the human who once upon a time I was forced to share a room with and who slept at the foot of my bed because she was scared of the dark, has always been and always will be my best friend - it just took me a while to realize that truth. And… I am in disbelief over the fact that she is graduating from high school in just a few short weeks, ready to embark on the next adventure of her life wherever that may be.
Rikka, you - along with many other high school seniors - are ready. It’s time to truly fly pretty girl. Perhaps you think you have been flying your entire life being a gymnast and all, but just you wait – now it is your time to truly SOAR.
The journey of COLLEGE is upon you – a new and exciting chapter in which many seventeen to twenty-something year-olds often experience a “rebirth” and rediscovery of themselves. It’s a time of exploration and an unquantifiable amount of learning! You’re in a setting with thousands of other students who are all there for various reasons but many of the same reasons – to receive an education and to finally “fly” on their own.
With this being said, college is by no means easy. Sure, it is undoubtedly exciting! But it is an adjustment and change from the life of high school and living at home. For many college freshmen, it is their first time living apart from their parents. It’s a time to practice “adulting” – growing up, figuring out life necessities, and truly finding one’s passions and who they’re called to be.
Consequently, because I have lived through freshmen year, I thought I would share my two cents about starting college. Obviously I am a college expert at this point (hah! I wish), having just finished my sophomore year at Concordia College (Roll Cobbs!) but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share my insight and advice on the topic.
Rikka, & all graduating high school seniors, behold – ADVICE from a HALF WAY THROUGH COLLEGE STUDENT ABOUT COLLEGE.
The BEST Tips for incoming College Freshmen ~ (according to Reyna)
1. Get involved right away.
a. The toughest part about freshmen year is the feeling of disconnect and initially lacking a support system. This sense of community will come eventually, but if you can get on a team/club/group this will help you become connected sooner.
2. Try something new!
a. College is the time to rediscover yourself as well as hone in on any passions or interests you may have! College provides AMPLE amount of opportunities for you to do this. Stretch yourself; I promise there will be more choices for involvement than in high school – probably some of which you may not have realized even existed.
3. Be an Extrovert.
a. (At least for the first month) Don’t be afraid to be the person who goes up to people first. Take initiative. Show your confidence.
4. Keep God close.
a. College is crazy. Remember to take time for yourself and to continue to grow in your relationship with God. And… even when it’s hard, continue to trust him and his plan for you. Even when it may seem that he is silent and not listening, he always is and he is always there.
5. Work and Study Hard.
a. Remember why you’re going to college in the first place – to receive an education. Try to find the balance between studying and adventuring.
6. Be Thankful.
a. Need I say more?
7. Keep eating your veggies.
a. And avoid the softserve ice cream machine (most days) and dessert bar. (Dessert bar all the time? Yeah, that’s a thing. Keep being healthy and eating right despite all of the delicious looking sugar-infused foods! Also, avoid the soda fountain. Keep drinking lots of water. You will thank me later.)
8. Remember Your Family.
a. Although you may be in a new exciting place being filled up by all of the new individuals and festivities around you, your family is still back home living a nearly identical life to the one that you just left. And there is a void… because you’re not there. They’ll try not to bug you because they want you to enjoy your new “independent” life away from them, but don’t be afraid to call home once in a while. They still miss you.
9. Avoid Comparing.
a. A waste of time – DON’T DO IT – just do YOU 189% of the time.
10. Pick a major that Fills you.
a. When does time disappear? What are you drawn to? Where are your gifts? What comes naturally? What classes do you find yourself looking forward to? What perks your sense of curiosity?
11. Spend less time on Social Media.
a. Make more intentional time with the people around and in front of you.
12. Organization is Key.
a. If you didn’t use a planner in high school, I would highly recommend having one in college. Keep a planner on your phone or an actual hard copy.
Aside from these few tips, I also thought of a list of things that I wish I would have brought and bought initially.
Things You Definitely Should Buy When Starting College
1. A robe.
a. Who knows how far away the community bathroom is and how warm those hallways are in the middle of winter
2. Flipflops - for walking outside as well as the shower.
3. A stapler
4. A memory foam mattress - SO WORTH IT
5. A 3 whole puncher. It will save you a few runs to the library, trust me.
6. Forget the notebooks and folders, invest in BINDERS and fill them with notebook paper. Consolidates two things into one. Bam.
7. If you’re an avid coffee or tea drinker…. A portable mug is obviously necessary.
8. A Walmart bullet.
a. Yes, as in the mini smoothie blender. If you enjoy smoothies, a small blender is a wonderful healthy (and easy!) breakfast alternative to dining service’s breakfast options (trust me, after about a month the initial amazement and love of a dining center begins to wear off). I was a little apprehensive about purchasing my $20 off-brand bullet from the Wallyworld (thinking it wouldn’t work as well as the name brand Bullet) but it has proven me wrong. I would keep almond milk in our little dorm fridge and freeze bananas in our mini freezer, which combined in a bullet would make the perfect easy to make smoothie.
9. Plenty of highlighters, pencils, and pens.
10. A Planner.
a. I personally still enjoy having a hard copy of my schedule versus putting EVERYTHING onto my phone. College – life – is busy. Write everything down.
11. Christmas string lights. They make everything pretty and create nice mood lighting regardless if it’s Christmas or not.
And finally, last but not least, a list about FOOD.
Foods you will probably (and should) learn to love
1. Peanut Butter.
a. Makes everything delicious and is a good source of protein. Nuff said.
a. The one fruit that most schools will (and should) always have stocked. Eat them, freeze them, love them.
3. Instant oatmeal.
a. For the mornings when you don’t have time to brush your teeth when you wake up ten minutes before class. Or, if you’re a gum-aholic like myself.
a. A natural, “healthy” sweetener.
8. Easy mac.
I hope these lists helped. And if they didn’t… well, they are some good tips for a half-way-through college student to review and remember.
Seniors, Rikka, College is FUN. Try not to overthink things and psych yourself out about this next journey of your life. You’re ready. Don’t be afraid, embrace it wholeheartedly and get ready for the time of your life. It’s natural to feel frightened of the future and the unknown. It’s easy to think, “what if __(such and such)__ happens?” Well let me ask you this: so what if that happens? You will learn from it; we’re only human after all and we make mistakes. However, it’s perfectly normal to feel afraid and apprehensive about what is to come. When I find myself dwelling too much on the future, it always calms me to open my bible and turn to scripture. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 6:34 which says:
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
This is complete truth my friends.
Plan ahead and look forward to what is coming, but don’t worry about it. Live in the now, the time you have been given today. The future will come soon enough but there’s no use fretting about it – like Matthew says, God will help you deal with all that is to come. He is striding ahead of you and will never fail you. He has incredible plans for your life that you can only begin to imagine. Trust and give him the control and wonderful things will happen.
Seniors, Rikka, be brave. Grad hold of this next adventure. I am ecstatic for you all as you begin this next journey.
Rikka, I will always be your proud big sister and I will always be there when you need me. Be bold sis - I love you.
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.