For many freshmen, this is the first time that you have ever been away from home for an extended period of time. Many of you will learn how to do laundry for the first time in the next few weeks; believe me, this is a widespread problem. You’ll set the fire alarm off a few times learning to cook in the dorm kitchens – it’s a rite of passage.
I came to college without knowing a single person on campus. My only point of contact was Instagram direct messages with my roommate and a text from the captain of my team telling me not to forget my sports gear. The biggest concern of mine was how I would make friends outside of the team I would constantly be around.
Getting involved outside of sports was the biggest contributing factor to my college experience. In my freshman year, I joined a fraternity and started getting involved with student media. I took classes outside of my usual circles and met people I probably would not have associated with otherwise. Choosing to move outside of my comfort zone enriched my entire time in college. There’s a lot more to learn about yourself when you challenge yourself to be uncomfortable.
One of the most important parts of college is broadening your horizons and figuring out who you are. For most of your life you have likely been confined to one or two towns, surrounded by the same people who think the exact same way as you. College is a melting pot - go out and meet people who are not from the same background as you.
Even past this, college is the opportunity to try new things. Go ahead and take a class that’s not in your field or go to an INST event that challenges what you believe. Do things that are going to make you uncomfortable, because in that moment you can grow.
Most of all, you’re going to meet hundreds of people who are feeling the exact same as you. Here’s the secret: no one knows what they’re doing yet. Almost everyone is meeting people for the first time and knows next to no one yet. Go out and meet them. It’s incredibly hard to meet people in your dorm room.
You’re going to hear this repeatedly for the next few weeks, but what you get out of this experience is exactly what you put into it. If you want to have a Greek life experience, you can choose to do that here. Maybe you’re inclined to participate in student government or the arts, we have that here too. It could even be that you just want to go to class and relax all the time, you can do that.
Otterbein is not a perfect place, but it gives you the chance to have whatever experience you want from college. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn about yourself. Study hard, but remember that college is supposed to be fun. Make the most of the next four-plus years that you are here - they’re going to fly by, so cherish every moment.