Dear New Students: An Open Letter

Finding the advice to give new students coming into the microcosm that is Penn State University was challenging to say the least — especially for someone who had one of the worst transitions to college.

Rather than going into gruesome detail about my first-semester-breakdowns that brought on neurochemical imbalances, I’ll just tell you that you are going to learn the more about yourself in these 15 weeks than you ever have before.

Having everything change in a single day — not just school, but new friends, old friends, communication with family, a completely new environment (and a big one, at that), living on your own entirely and learning how to fend for yourself — is truly daunting because it doesn’t happen one at a time.

Have Grace with Yourself and Others

When embarking on any endeavor by yourself it is easy to give reason to why things aren’t going the best by placing blame — don’t fall into this pattern. Firstly, don’t blame yourself for how you feel or why your situation looks the way it does; your feelings are completely valid. You should invest in compassionate thoughts with yourself, especially why you’re feeling down. Allow yourself to feel how you feel.

Also, make sure you have grace with those around you who are doing all they can to support you whilst going down their own path. Good people have good intentions so make sure you surround yourself with them in times of change.

The Purpose of Life is to Feel

This is simply a word of advice that a friend gave to me when I was struggling and it opened my eyes. Hearing this changed my perspective on my current situation and made me realize that whether I was feeling on top of the world or under two tons of weight, I was feeling and that gave me purpose. Look into your feelings and explore the why, explore what it really is that was making you feel such a profound sensation.

Turning to intrinsic contemplation can not only help you cope with how you’re feeling but provides you with the tools to begin feeling better all on your own.

Sometimes You Need to Seek Out Extra Help — and That’s Okay

Sometimes — most of the time — you can’t handle it all on your own. Asking for help in any capacity is more than okay because it benefits you as well as the people around you. My moment of realization came when I could suddenly tell that my closest friends were taking the brunt end of my struggling. It allowed me to use them to put myself first because I could then see that it was a bigger problem than I had thought.

That extra help can be anything; investing more in your friends and what they have to say, seeking out psychological counseling, even thinking about medication could be beneficial — but it’s all up to you to make that decision.

Change is hard, and it’s also guaranteed. This may be one of the first major changes you’ve experienced in your life, but that just means it’s the first of many. Try and learn these lessons now so that you can grow into someone who falls in love with change and invites it into their life with open arms.


10 Things I Learned from Freshman Year at Penn State

An Open Letter to My Freshman Year Self

Dear Incoming Freshman