It is the fourth week into the fall semester, which means Gannon freshmen will be relieved from Freshmen Hours soon. While many have found new friends and settled into their niche, there’s still much yet to come.

My sister is one of those freshmen, at Otterbein University, though, and while we discussed college, I never got to formally give her advice. This is an open letter to her – and all freshmen out there!

Dear Emily,

Welcome to college! I hope you’re ready to experience four of the best, most life-changing years of your life. It’s hard to believe that I’m in my last year, (Although I have many to go in graduate school.) and you’re just beginning your journey. While I realize the typical reaction to big brother advice is an, “I know, I know,” I hope that this will help you:

1. Be outgoing and join a club! Everyone is in the same boat: New people, new place, and new experiences. While everyone may look cool and confident, (despite wearing the freshman identifying lanyards) everyone is at least a slightly homesick and scared. So do not be afraid to be outgoing! Make conversation with people in line at lunch. Say hello to your classmates around campus. Make cookies for people in your dorm. Most importantly, there is no better way to meet people than to join a club that interests you. Just don’t join too many, yet. You may be meeting friends that will last a lifetime. As for boys who wish to befriend my sister, applications for friendship can be submitted through me.

2. Learn, learn, and learn even more. No – really, LEARN. It is easy to treat those first few classes as a high school review, and in some instances, they are. But make sure you’re getting everything you can out of them; they are the foundation you’ll need for the rest of your courses, especially in your major. In fact, they are the basis you will need for the rest of your career. An easy A doesn’t hurt either.

3. Be open-minded and open-hearted. When I say college changes your life, I’m not kidding. I am a completely different person than I was freshman year, and in almost every way, a better person. Part of that comes from meeting new people, from every walk and experience of life. Also, living with people allows you to get to know them in a really profound way. You and I have been blessed with a good home and loving family and friends. Not everyone has been given the same. You have a good heart, keep it open and share it.

There is so much more I can say, but that would require a far longer blog post letter than anyone wants to read. Always remember that I am only a call away if you need me. Congratulations Beaner! I’m proud of you.

Matt 🙂