The Beginner’s Guide to College

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Back to school can either be a huge headache or the coveted end of the Yellow Brick Road– sometimes, it’s a little of both, especially if you’re starting your freshman experience all over again in college. It’s a little different from what your first year of high school probably was like, so we’ve put together a nifty little guide to help you float on through, using pictures from my first year that I wouldn’t trade for the world:

1. Keeping in touch is good.

Beginner's Guide to College
Moving into my dorm on day one with my mom and sister (not pictured: my father, the photographer)

Just because you’ve entered a new era doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) carry certain people with you. Not only have I obviously remained close with my family, but maintaining particularly special friendships from home never hindered me from making wonderful friends at college. And there’s nothing wrong with having a bigger support system while you’re making this big transition!

2. Learn your signature dish.

Beginner's Guide to College
I made so much french toast that there’s actually a picture…

Dining dollars and restaurants are awesome, but using these next four years to cultivate your culinary senses isn’t so bad, either. I’ve really come to enjoy time in the kitchen, as I always did helping my mom and grandma growing up– and it’s even better if you can steal their recipes, #oops.

3. Take advantage of your area.

Beginner's Guide to College
Outside of the White House, minutes after the announcement of President Obama’s re-election

Going to school in the nation’s capital is pretty rad because there’s always something to do, but you can find the hidden treasures of where you live, too! Even if you’re living at home, commuting, or anything in between, explore new facets of the world around you and make the most of the time you have.

4. Service is good for all.

Beginner's Guide to College
Weeding with fellow classmates at GW Freshman Day of Service

I’ve always loved community service, and it’s an enriching experience no matter where you are. GW has its own Freshman Day of Service, so if your school has a similar event, be sure to get involved! It’ll help you learn more about your area, yourself, and the people around you.

5. Try something new.

Beginner's Guide to College
ESA Bid Day on the Lincoln Memorial with my lovely biggie

If something is catching your eye, there might be a very good reason. I wasn’t so sure about joining a sorority in college, but when I found myself being so drawn to a service-oriented alternative Greek sorority, I took a chance and I’ve loved each second. Since joining Epsilon Sigma Alpha my freshman year, I’ve served as Community Service Chair and Co-Vice President, met some remarkable women, and completed hours and hours of service around the DC area. It’s one of the best leaps of faith I ever took.

6. Do what you love.

Beginner's Guide to College
My first play in college: “Check, Please!” (the first of many) with 14th Grade Players

Yes, you should expand your horizons, but you’re in college to hone your skills for your passion. So do it– through class, through student organizations, anything you can find. Focus on what’s making you happy and let it amplify.

7. Actually do your work.

Please enjoy this awful picture of me and my desk from move-in.

With so much going on around you, it can be hard to buckle down and do your homework. However, your success in class is so incredibly vital to the life you’re creating for yourself, so don’t let it slip through the cracks. Balance is key, and you’ll find it once you get in your groove.

8. SLEEP.

Beginner's Guide to College
I don’t have a picture of me sleeping (thankfully), so here’s a serene picture I took of the Jefferson Memorial to make you peaceful and sleepy.

Work is good, class is good, friends are good, sleep is great. You need to sleep in order to keep being the fabulous human you are, so don’t skimp.

9. Take it slooooowww.

Beginner's Guide to College
Smelling the metaphorical flowers

I know it seems like a lot to handle, but you’ll do it. You don’t have to do everything as soon as you step foot on campus. Take the time you need and work at your own pace.

10. Be yourself.

Beginner's Guide to College
From stage manager to best friend ♥

Cheesy? Maybe. True? Absolutely. Whether you have a firm grip on who you are or you’re still figuring things out, stay true to you– it’s the only way to have a 100% unique experience. Besides, the more you be yourself, the more likely you are to find some of the best people to join you on this journey.

The moral of the story is that you’ve got this, GlossyGirl. Keep your head up and love your life.

What’s your best college advice?

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Angelina Hoidra

Beauty Editor: A college senior in DC trying to find the balance between Whitman and Wilde and stopping at Sephora along the way.

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