An Open Letter: Surviving the First Weeks of School

Posted by Rebekah Jorgensen on 9/13/16 9:30 AM

Patrick Henry College students

Dear College Student, 

Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, the first few weeks of school can be terrifying. As a freshman, you’re still figuring out this whole “college thing.” As a sophomore, you’re adjusting to changing friend groups and harder classes. As a junior, you’re bearing more responsibilities. As a senior, you’re facing the ever-mounting pressure of finding a job and moving on after graduation.

So in the midst of a sea of syllabi, color-coded planners, and fresh notebooks, there’s really only one thing to do: take a few deep breaths.

Patrick Henry College students

These first weeks can be overwhelming and you will spin completely out of control if you don’t take time to pause and relax. Many say that college is the best time of your life, so enjoy it!

 Watch a sunset.

Buy a new outfit.

Eat some chocolate.

Read a new book.

Have a movie night with friends.

Go on a hike.

Find a puppy to hug.

Sing your favorite song at top volume.

Eat at a new restaurant.

Explore someplace you’ve never been.

Rearrange your room.


Do whatever brings you joy and rest. In the grand scope of the human experience, you were a flourishing human being long before you were a college student. So cultivate your mind, body, and spirit as a whole entity, even in the midst of jobs and almost-due papers.

 Patrick Henry College students dorm football game

Of course, there are extremes. It’s easy to throw responsibility to the wind and spend your days frolicking around in the fall breezes with friends, staying up until 2am on the gaming console, or curling up in bed with a carton of ice cream and Netflix. Then, suddenly, midterms creep up unawares, sending you spiraling into a month of sleepless nights, stress, and sub-par submissions.

Thus, one of the many challenges you are facing as a newly-minted adult is learning to find balance. College is the springboard for the rest of your life, and the habits you form here will dictate many years to come.

 Patrick Henry College students

American philosopher Russell Kirk built on this concept when he stated, “If you want to have order in the commonwealth, you first have to have order in the individual soul.” In a college setting, if you want to have order in your classes, your assignments, and your life in general, you must first cultivate order in your own soul. This means, among other things, finding a balance between rest and work. 

As a senior, a resident assistant, a college employee, a girlfriend, a secretary for a DC businessman, and a student taking 18 credits, I’ve found this semester to be my most challenging one yet. Just the very thought of trying to find a job after graduation has already made me cry three times this week. So yeah, I get it. I know college is tough. I know you’re tired. I know you’d rather run away from all of it. I know how you feel because I’m right there with you.

But Ecclesiastes 9:10 reminds us that whatever our hands find to do, we are to do it with all our might. These first few weeks of school are launching the rest of your semester, so start out with good habits, and make the most of every minute that God gives you.

 Patrick Henry College students at Homecoming

So live in the moment. Take time to breathe. And in the words of Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places, TODAY is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.” 


Your Fellow Student


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