Dear incoming Colorado State freshmen

Zara DeGroot

Dear incoming freshmen students,

Zara DeGroot
Zara DeGroot

Welcome to your first week of college. Have you fallen off of your bike or longboard yet? What about the dining halls; isn’t the breakfast bar the best thing you ever did see?


Freshmen, contrary to popular opinion, you do not annoy me. In fact, I get very excited about your existence on CSU’s campus. Last week, I drove to the Lory Student Center and saw some of you moving into your dorms — your parents parking their SUVs and vans on the side of the road, friendly Ram Welcome volunteers greeting you on the curb and you unloading your Target brand bedding and decor. Watching the hustle and bustle, I felt a weird sense of excitement and nostalgia because two years ago, I was in your shoes. I was feeling the same sense of excitement and apprehension you are probably feeling right now as you make your way to your first day of classes. Fast forward two years, and now I’m a junior. And it went by faster than you could say, “Slow this ride down.” But simply by being in college, I have learned multitudes more than I ever learned in high school (sorry, high school educators — college rules). Now it is your turn to ride the roller coaster that is the collegiate experience, and I’m pumped for you.

This weekend was Ram Welcome—a fantastic transitional effort for new students here at CSU. You were introduced to life at this campus, and were probably given a lot of advice from your leaders in addition to the pens and Ram swag you won’t know what to do with. And to supplement that, there are some more things you should know stepping into college.

You are now entering into a transformative period of your life, maybe even the most transformative, so take advantage of this. You’re (hopefully) getting to study what you want, making new friends and learning as much, or maybe even more, outside of the classroom than you are inside of it. You’re being taught like the student you are, but treated like an adult. It can be a slippery slope, but with time you’ll figure out how to balance the two and find your groove. 

As a junior or senior, and maybe even a sophomore, you are going to look back at your freshman self and probably cringe, and wonder why you wore those lanyards with your key card around your neck. You may even look back and see a completely different person. As scary as that may sound, it is also very thrilling learning more about yourself and the world as a whole. In a few years, you will know people who are getting engaged and married. You will lose friends, but will make many different ones. You may also cut your hair off in hot pursuit of a trendy shoulder length bob, but will end up looking like a mix of Lord Farquaad and Molly Ringwald. It’s all part of the journey.

And if that wasn’t enough, here are a few bullet points of advice for you:

  • Do not wear a dress with a backpack. Your backpack will make the dress ride up in the back, and suddenly you’re baring your backside to an innocent bystander in the library.
  • Cafe Mexicali is life. But refrain from eating it before studying, writing a paper or doing anything of academic importance. You will feel like a blob — a happy blob — and your brain will fail.
  • Not everyone will get your humor. In fact, most people won’t. You will learn to deal with this and carry on with your disturbing yet personalized type of comedy.

You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to do dumb things and you’re going to disappoint people. You’re going to drop your perfectly cream-cheesed bagel facedown on the floor in the dining hall, you’re going to embarrass yourself in front of your campus crush and you’re going to spend days opting out of homework and studying to watch episode after episode of Parks and Rec. But you’re going to make valuable friendships, you’re going to drink apple cider from the library on a crisp fall day and one day you’re going to pet a campus squirrel.

Taylor Swift once sung about being “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.” Mark my words — you will learn to find the truth in this phrase. College can be all of these things, but in the best way possible. So welcome to CSU. Good luck and have fun.

Collegian Columnist Zara DeGroot is sometimes too lazy to bend her elbows, but can still be reached at or on Twitter @zar_degroot.