Staff (& Reader) Picks: What I Wish I Knew Coming Into College

It’s hard to expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to entering college. Everything you have known for the past 18 (give or take) years seems to surface and come into question. Should I bring this? Should I do this? Will it be like this? What do I…? You get the point. It is a scary, exciting, and anxious time for everyone as we enter uncharted territory— leaving everything and everyone behind (not to be too dramatic lol)— whether we like to admit it or not.

I so vividly remember, as embarrassing as it is, desperately searching on google, Pinterest, Instagram, and basically every social platform ever created for answers to all of these unanswered questions. The unknown can be extremely daunting so this is where we come in…

We thought what better way to introduce and welcome a crop of newbies to SMU and SMU Look than by having some of our staff members and readers answer this question: What do you wish you knew coming into college?

Although no two experiences are the same, we gave you our two cents to hopefully help you navigate this hectic and inevitably overwhelming time. Obviously, this piece is directed at our new mustangs, but I think no matter what year you are, you can take something away from what our staff and readers have to say…I know I did! Pony Up!

Staff Picks:

Jules Fox (Junior): “Always build bridges, never burn them. Basically, the world is so tiny and you never know anything about anyone or the connections they could have so always be kind. Also, don’t judge a book by its cover. With people, with teachers, classes, places—keep an open mind. And bring a mattress pad!”

Amelia Evans (Sophomore): “It’s okay to not have a solidified ‘friend group.’ You will make friends from different classes, activities, clubs, and social events. They might not all know each other, but the variety helps you grow as an individual.”

Lizzie Loftus (Junior): “Don’t bring your whole life to college. You don’t need every pair of white sneakers you’ve ever owned. Freshman year I brought EVERYTHING. In my head, I had all these scenarios and I probably only used 1/4th of what I packed. Less is more. UPS has overnight shipping don’t fret.”

Emma Castner (Senior): “Something I wish I knew before coming to college is that these 4 years are going to fly by in an instant. Take advantage of everything SMU offers, get involved in extracurriculars, study hard, but still have as much fun with friends as possible because when it’s over you don’t want to look back wishing you did more.”

Ryan Mikles (Sophomore): “Don’t try to be someone you’re not. People will like you for you. They will see through the bull if you’re trying to portray yourself differently from who you are.”

Caroline Lidl (Senior): “My advice is that not everyone is going to be your best friend but the more people you know and befriend, the better off you will be. Make the effort to get to know the people in your classes, people in other grades, and your professors. Say hi to them when you’re out, grab lunch with them in the dining hall, etc. You never know where you’ll find yourself in a situation where they’ll be there for you when you most need it! My other piece of advice is to sign up for more classes than you actually want to take. Attend all on the first day and figure out which ones you like best and drop the ones you don’t. Give yourself that safety net before all the classes you need fill up.”

Sienna Wymbs (Junior): “One thing I wish someone told me about college was to just say yes to everything, especially the first semester. Also, you will need a phone wallet sticky thing.”

Chloe Smith (Senior): “One thing I wish I knew is that dining halls suck and you’ll waste all of your money on Postmates.”

Claudia Gillem (Sophomore): “One thing I wish I knew going into college was that your roommate doesn’t need to be your best friend!”

Parker Papaccio (Senior): “Decorating your dorm is definitely more of a hassle than a benefit…trust me.”

Meredith Welborn (Junior): “I wish I would’ve known to take care of yourself and constantly be working on improving your self-confidence and self-worth. Being put into a whole new environment like college can really take a toll on how you feel about yourself — which seems crazy, I know, but it’s true! Be true to who you are!”

Lydia Brooks (Junior): “I would say I wish I knew that I didn’t have to be complete best friends or do everything with my roommate. It was actually nice to do my own thing but still have someone to come back to and tell about my day!”

Maggie Klimuszko (Junior): “WHAT TO PACK. Obviously, I’m a fashion lover but coming from New York I didn’t know what I would need for Dallas weather. So let me give it to you straight: you DO NOT need 23 different pairs of heels, every pair of jeans in your wardrobe, of your arsenal of handbags. Most things will be left untouched except for your one or two favorites. Your arsenal of lulus, on the other hand, you may want that. My advice: stick to your favorites and your musts when packing and rotate in new pieces for each season (or if you’re like me- FedEx and my lovey mother keep my college closet in rotation). Again, only the essentials because it’s all you’ll wear- I’m still learning this myself.”

Maria Ryan (Junior): “One thing I wish I knew going into college is that feeding yourself is harder than it seems! Reminding yourself to have nutritious food is very important for staying healthy and happy!!”

Maggie Higgins (Sophomore): “One thing I wish I knew before coming to college was that you’re not going to make your best friends in the first week, it takes time to discover them and the wait is worth it!”

Gillian Bressie (Junior): “One thing I wish I knew going into college is that I would become closer to people so much faster than in high school! You spend all of your time with these people so it’s so easy for the people around you to become your family.”

Emma Eaker (Sophomore): “I think the one thing I wish I would’ve known was that you can’t fit as many clothes in the dorm closets as you think so pack light!”

Isabel Ensminger (Junior): “I wish I knew that I didn’t have to walk to class every day (driving is a lifesaver).”

MacKenzie Wray (Sophomore): “I would say I wish I knew to bring an air purifier and to take multivitamins from the start- both of those insure that you stay healthy from all the junk/sickness that goes around the dorm!”

Meredith Embree (Junior): “I underestimated how much free time I would have coming into college. I wish I knew to treat school work like a 9 to 5 job in order to stay on track with academia and balance a work hard, play hard lifestyle.”

Nicki Jackson (Junior): “One thing I learned is to remember to not worry about the small stuff. No matter how nervous you are going into college everything always works out the way it supposed to.”

Caillie Horner (Senior): “Set an alarm for your laundry!”

Maddy McGuire (Junior): “Keep your dorm room clean from the very beginning— It makes for a much more productive and happy week and just becomes part of your routine!”

Me (Senior): “Remembering that things are temporary if you want them to be. This can apply to almost anything in college— living situations, friends/friend groups, classes, teachers, your opinion towards SMU itself, the list goes on. Don’t freak out if you don’t absolutely love where you are because things change so quickly, especially freshman year. Give everything and everyone a chance but know that if you’re not happy with something, circumstances change. Just ride the wave and enjoy it! Also, learn to be alone. So often we come to college with all this newfound independence and freedom and immediately cling onto our roommate or new friends. I suggest taking time to be alone. Go grocery shopping, walk around Northpark, rent a Lime bike and cruise around campus SOLO. Taking the time to step back from everyone and having ‘me’ time will be crucial to your health and happiness!”

Reader Picks:

Graduated Female: “Nothing is as important as it seems.”

Senior Male: “Especially if your a freshman (or any underclassman really), don’t try to get into Homebar (you won’t get in). Just don’t do it.”

Sophomore Female: “Your shoes will get ruined going out and there’s little you can do to prevent it.”

Senior Male: “Be involved in work/internships as much as you can. Do anything to add quality accomplishments to your resume, not just your degree or your GPA. That has helped me way more than I thought.”

Graduated Female: “I would wear a lot less makeup in college than I did in high school.”

Senior Male: “Adding a minor doesn’t mean sh*t in the eyes of employers unless it’s a dope one.”

Senior Female: “Putting your energy towards making best friends is more important than finding a relationship.”

Senior Female: “Freshman 15 is real. Eat a salad once in a while…alcohol actually has calories in it.”

Graduated Female: “I wish I knew to the advantage of the research assistant opportunities.”

Ali Mikles

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