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Attention freshman

 
Dear incoming college freshmen,
Congratulations on getting to this point in your life. To those who are from Mississippi, I’m glad you decided to stay in the state that I love. To those from elsewhere, welcome home, and I know you will come to love this place nearly as much as I do.
I rarely get personal with my articles, usually wanting to voice my opinion without the use of “I,” but this one I intend to be an exception. In fact, I want you to hear this as if coming from a friend you have known your whole life.
I graduated from a very good private school, having been with over 90% of my class since first grade. I graduated in a class of 85 students, a far cry from the number I would enter Ole Miss alongside. Most of my friends decided to go to college elsewhere, so I was primarily on my own.
I don’t exactly remember what my expectations were when I began my freshman year, but I do know they were mostly proven to be incorrect. I’m sure you have many expectations yourself, and maybe with a better understanding than I thought I had. So, with that in mind, I would just like to give you a few pointers or tips to hopefully help you prepare for the next step in your life.
First, don’t bite off more than you can chew. 18 hours might seem like something you can easily handle, and for some people that is true. However, for the vast majority of people, 18 hours is too much for their first semester. It isn’t just about classes though. Sometimes taking 12 hours with too many extracurricular activities can be just as daunting. All in all, be wise when determining how to divide your time and attention.
Second, GPA isn’t everything. I know it seems like it is. Pressure to maintain GPA requirements for scholarships is high. You will be told that only 4.0s get considered for jobs. And you will hear of people with “easy majors” that only have to show up and breathe to get better grades than you. Trust me; it isn’t as important as society tells you. Your first employer could very well be the only person who cares about your GPA once you graduate. Do your best to get the grades you are capable of, but don’t freak out when you miss the mark in some classes. In 20 years your kids, mortgage, and career will all be vastly more important than your final grade in Random 101.
Third, just be you. There will be pressures from every side to join group X because it looks good on your résumé or to try to get into frat A or B because your friend, brother, or uncle wants you to. But if it isn’t you, then don’t do it. When it comes to those decisions, ultimately, you matter most. It’s okay to be selfish at times.
Fourth, stand up for what you believe in. College is a place where the collective of ideas is more diverse than any other. Inevitably, you will have a class where you disagree with a teacher or student’s viewpoint. It’s okay to challenge their beliefs, and it is okay if they challenge yours. Do so respectfully, and the possibilities for knowledge and experience are endless.
Finally, rest assured that you are exactly where you need to be. Whether you are from Oxford, MS, or Oxford, UK, or any place between and beyond, there is a reason you were drawn to Ole Miss and the University of Mississippi.
 
Trenton Winford is a junior public policy leadership major from Madison.