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Written for “Seniors 2010” special issue of Massapequa High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Chief, released in June 2010. Every year, the previous year’s Editor-in-Chief writes a college advice piece after her freshman experience for the new graduating class. This year was my turn.

That was fast. I feel compelled to say it feels like just last month that last year’s senior editors and I were working on, or rather, slaving over our senior issue in good ol’ room 131. But that’s enough of my stroll down memory lane.

After re-reading past editor’s college advice pieces in preparation for writing this, I noticed their advice was missing something. Yes, the “do’s and don’ts” of freshman year are incredibly helpful—join clubs, learn how to do laundry, study what you love. Yet what I learned about myself this past year cannot be attained by auditioning for the symphony orchestra, distinguishing between the “perm press” and “bright colors” settings on the washing machine, or registering for LIT270, Transformations of Shakespeare.

Instead, the most valuable part of my freshman experience involves less of the college, more of me. On freshman move-in day at American University, August 15, 2009, I was a self-conscious and nervous girl, in disbelief that it was time to set up my cramped dorm room, a scene depicted in film and television countless times. Despite being overwhelmed, I remained unafraid and open to the new adventures of my first year of college. Soon enough the insecurities melted away and college was no longer intimidating. By May 5, 2010 I sadly packed up room 610 of Leonard Hall and came home to Massapequa a confident young woman. Cheesy? Maybe. True? Definitely.

And with that self-aware self-analysis comes the Marissa Cetin Three Thoughts for Your Freshman Year Mindset:

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