Chauncey Bowden | Staff Writer

Congratulations! You are beginning your journey as a college student. The next four, or four and a half, or maybe even five years of your life will be some of the most life-changing of all. I’m certain that all of your friends and family have already been passing along their knowledge and wisdom to you. And while experience will always be the best of teachers, I will attempt to pass along some knowledge to you that has helped me in my 4 years at State and pray that maybe it helps you too.

I wish I would have known to be smarter with my money. Sure, most of us will be broke college students, but there are levels of “brokeness” and I have definitely been at the lowest of the lows. Maxing out your graduation money and refund check on Chipotle burrito bowls and crop tops from Forever 21, probably isn’t the smartest thing to do — trust me. There are fewer things sadder than eating Ramen noodles for a week straight because you maxed out your dining dollars.

I wish I would have known that I don’t have to deal with stress or depression alone. College is challenging and it will test you in more ways than you ever imagined. While we bravely accept the challenges that come along with pursuing a four-year degree, one should never settle for an environment that is not conducive to their mental well-being. When the load gets too heavy, take full advantage of the resources available to students on campus such as the Student Health Center. There you will find an excellent counseling center with professionals readily available to help try and make your time at NC State as happy and healthy as possible.

I wish I would have known that my walk to and from my classes would not be enough to combat the beloved “freshman fifteen”. Of course gaining a few pounds isn’t the end of the world, but if maintaining your physique is important to you, Carmichael gym offers really fun group fitness classes to help keep you in shape. But while on the topic of health, make sure to always practice safe sex and get tested regularly. STDs are in abundance on college campuses! While getting tested may be daunting, knowing is always better.

I wish I would have known that life-long friendships aren’t always made right away. Initially I felt that everyone was out making these connections and I was watching from the sidelines. Remember that everyone else is trying to figure out their new life the same way that you are — give it time. While it may seem hard, especially if you’re an introvert, put yourself out there a little.Getting involved in clubs and organizations with like-minded people is a great way to make friends. If you have a hard time making friends right away, be careful when traveling on campus alone. If you can’t find someone to walk with you, take full advantage of the campus escort service…just call 30 minutes ahead, because they’re always slow.

Here’s the thing, you’re obviously smart or else you wouldn’t be here, and I am confident that you have all the tools necessary in order to succeed. Enjoy yourself and have fun, but remember what you are here to do. Don’t ever be afraid to grow and evolve. Come December when you go home for Christmas break, your family and friends may remark about the ways that you have changed; don’t be intimidated by this. Your world is growing and your knowledge is expanding. If you attend college and experience no growth or change, you have done yourself a disservice.

I know that sometimes you may grow weary when you are surrounded by individuals who seem more different from you than they are the same. But always remember that you belong here, you have the right to be here and you are important to this community.