Top 5 Things to Appreciate About Freshman Year

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The first year of college is a magical time, unlike any other you will experience. This is perhaps the biggest transition that you'll make in your life, and it is a time that should be fully appreciated. I constantly catch myself reminiscing about my freshman year at UW, wishing I could go back in time.

So, if you're in the midst of your freshman year (or headed there in the future), make sure to fully embrace each and every experience. And for those of you long past freshman year, take a moment to remember all the great times... it doesn't happen twice! Here are five things to appreciate about your freshman year of college:

Note: I am an out-of-state student at a Big-10 school, so my freshman experience may vary a bit from those of you on smaller campuses, or perhaps those closer to home. Regardless of your situation, your first year of college will still be a time of incredible opportunities and memories! Appreciate the unique experience that you have.

1. Everything is new.

A college campus is like its own little world. Even if your campus is near your high school, calling it "home" is a whole new experience. Not only is it a new setting, but all of the opportunities that will face you will be new as well.

The best part is, many universities arrange their schedules so freshman have at least a few days (or if you're lucky like I was, a full week!) to settle in before classes begin. "Welcome week," as we so fondly call it, will likely be one of the most exciting weeks of your life. For many, this is the first time that you will be completely independent. And before classes begin, you are also void of any major responsibilities. This is your time to explore, play and learn everything that your campus has to offer!

2. Everyone is in the same boat.

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When you move away to college, there is often some anxiety about being in an unfamiliar environment, with hundreds or thousands of new people. But you must remember that everyone else is in the same boat! College is a new experience for them, just as it is for you, and many of those people share similar reservations.

Freshman year presents a wonderful opportunity to break out of your shell, reach out to people, and make new, maybe lifelong, friends.

3. You have everyexpectation and no expectations.

Perhaps the best part of freshman year is this contradiction: You will have so many expectations, but you will also have no expectations. I'm sure all of us have heard stories of the "glory days" from friends and family. Once you get these ideas in your head, it's easy to build up anticipation for your own college experience. But at the same time, you will never really know what to expect until you get there and experience it yourself.

Regardless of the tales you may have been told, moving off to college is always going to be a completely foreign experience. Enter into it with an open mind and no matter what happens, you are bound to be thrilled!

4. Gen Eds are actually awesome.

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Taking your general education requirements may seem like a burden, but they really are an essential - and helpful! - part of the college experience. Your requirements may force you to take a course which doesn't exactly pique your interest. But in this new setting, with a knowledgable professor, you may find an interest that you never even knew existed.

Freshman year is the best time to explore a variety of subjects and find out what really fascinates you. You may find your true passion, and it could be something you'd never even considered before!

5. Endless opportunities.

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Ceramics and cheerleading

The abundance of opportunities available at a university is unrivaled. From student organizations to sports to internships, your campus has it all. Groups are available for students with an incredible range of interests - I promise that you will be able to find something that suits you. Plus, getting involved (see: how to get involved on campus) is the perfect way to meet other students who share similar passions.

And while the opportunities will only continue to grow after freshman year, you are also sure to get busier. Try everything while you have the time!

Your Thoughts?

After all, the saying really is true... "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone." I hope this list will inspire you to live in the moment - don't let another second pass without appreciating the experience while you can!

Freshman - do you feel yourself taking advantage of your first year at college? What is one thing you want to experience before the semester ends? And for those upperclassmen, do have any magnificent memories of freshman year? Is there something you wish you would have appreciated more as a frosh? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments section!