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October 15, 2011

A Word of Advice: College is a whole new world

Daily Star

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The first day of college felt like I was going back to the seventh grade.

Seventh-grade was the first time we saw all of the kids from other elementary schools. It was extremely nerve-racking and now, I am living it all over again.


Granted, college includes thousands more people, but the concept is still the same ... nerves being racked.

When you go to college, you're basically going in blind, just as I came to the State University College at Plattsburgh, knowing only a few people. While you can choose to listen to what others tell you, remember everyone has different experiences.

Many tell you that college is the experience of a lifetime, and so far, it is, but keep in mind, getting to know others and getting used to them is totally different.

You go from having your own room and bathroom to sharing a 14-by-10-foot room with another person and sharing three showers and three toilets with about 20 other girls! It's not fun and it's not easy, but it's something you get used, too.

The privacy here is slim to none. You constantly have people knocking on your door, you hear many noises and sounds throughout the night and you run into people even if you are just walking to the bathroom. So in college, being shy isn't going to work.

What I have found to be extremely helpful is getting along with my roommate. Having some type of communication will help you out and make your experience at college 10 times better.

I got lucky with my roommate. We are very alike and act as if we have known each other for awhile. Many may not have that sort of luck, but as long as you can communicate with one another, it should work out.

Normally, I am not one to walk up to someone and introduce myself. I will be friendly if you talk to me, but that's about it. However, in college, you have to be more outgoing or people may perceive you as rude or nonsocial.

Something that is helping me escape my shyness is being on the cheer team. I tried out and made the team out of 50 girls, which was pretty cool.

By being around the cheerleaders, I'm meeting people all the time. Being on a team, whatever it may be, will always help you branch out. You get to create a bond with a handful of people that could last forever. This is the start of your college "network," as you build the branches of your temporary family.

Another type of team or group that exists in college are fraternities and sororities. They are always looking for new people to pledge; which basically means you tryout to be a part of their group. Before you join one, make sure it's the thing for you, and don't be pressured into joining anything you don't want to.

Here's the thing _ college is, in a way, a new life, a new world. Gone are the old ways of home and the comforts you're used to.

However, looking at it from that point of view, you have the choice to make it a major improvement in your life. In the overall scheme of things, life is all about change. It's very much like a book. It's about moving on to new chapters.

While you remember the old ones, you look forward to seeing what lies ahead in later chapters.

College is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime event. Why not make it the best you can by experiencing all that you want to and meeting some great new people?

Melissa Flathmann, a 2011 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a freshman at the State University College at Plattsburgh. Would you like A Word of Advice from her? Send her an e-mail at or send her a letter to "Teen Talk: A Word of Advice," C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at