What I Wish I had Known as an Out-of-State Freshman


written by out-of-state student Micah Plender

5,003 feet above sea level in Fort Collins, huh? I chuckled to myself as I drove my tract— er...car, through the only two traffic lights in my town, which sat at 1,444 feet above sea level. It kinda freaked me out. Being from a small town in northwest Iowa, I didn’t know what to expect when I moved ten hours away to Fort Collins, Colorado, for school. It seemed absurd. It was. It is. I still breathe heavy while going up stairs after I’ve been home for a bit.

Here are 3 things I wish I had known as a freshman out-of-state student:

Buy a map.

Hang it on your ceiling so you must study it every night. Burn it into your eyeballs. Your hallmate is from Idaho Springs? Oh, so they grow potatoes. What!? That’s in Colorado??? It means nothing to me to that your cousins live in Aurora and you ski Winter Park every Christmas. And how the h*ck am I supposed to know that Loveland Ski Resort is, in fact, not even close to Loveland?!! Do yourself a favor: familiarize yourself with your new state and at least ask where such-and-such a town is so you don’t feel out-of-the-know for four years.

Get involved.

You know maybe three people: your roommate, your RA, and Harold, the old guy that scans your ID so you can get into the dining hall for *exquisite* cousine.  Yeah, you may know Jenny from room 112, who has known Kelly and Brady since high school. But there’s a solid chance that you do not know Sam from the third grade, and they just might not want to include the corn-shucking girl from room 307. So go check out some student organizations, clubs, and ministries. Introduce yourself to your classmates and hallmates. Don’t just sit there and wish you had your besties from high school with you.

You will get homesick.

You may be thinking “yeah right!” because you couldn’t wait to leave the farm and your 12 siblings. You were counting down the days until you could get away from the that clique-y little town. But now you sorta miss it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. MAN UP! Just kidding. Buy a box of Kleenex and call home. Tell your mom about that that kid in the seventh row of your 8am that asks the silly questions. Update your dad on how many miles until you need your oil changed. Talk to your 12 siblings about who will take over birthing the piglets since you’ll be gone this spring. Kidding, but you do miss them, too. Do this often, as you can’t simply drive home for the weekend like some in-staters. And buy more Kleenex.


College is supposed to be the best four years of your life. It’s a chance to experience new things, learn about new things, and make new friends. And being an out-of-state student exaggerates these opportunities because of your new-ness. Get out there and laugh a bit, but remember that it’s okay to cry, too. Best of luck to you and (maybe) your sea-level lungs.


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