By Juan Lopez

As you’re reading this, you’ve likely already been given hundreds of pieces of advice on how to make the best of your collegiate career. “You’re a freshman, just have fun!” “These are gonna be the best 4-to-6 years of your life!” “Get involved, go to football games, sleep around – live, love & learn!”

Blah, blah, blah.

Just Google “Advice for college freshmen” and you’ll be drowned in cliché tips on what you should and shouldn’t do during your first year of college. Trust me, I got the same advice 7 years ago (damn, I’m older than dirt) when I was an incoming freshman at the good ol’ U N of R.

Moving to Reno from Las Vegas was a big transition for my then-18-year-old self. But now that I’m 25 (damn, I’m really 25?), I’ve learned that a lot of the things I was told as an 18-year-old were indeed true, but they were only half of the story.

So, I’ll warn you: Nothing you will read here is new.

However, it’s a new, realistic, take on the cliché advice you’ve already seen

They’ll tell you:

These will be the best years of your life!

I’ve learned:

These will also be the worst years of your life. For many of us, this is the first time we’ve been independent, moved away from home, and had the freedom to choose our life. But 18-year-olds aren’t the best at making decisions. Whether it be drinking more than a human should be able to, not studying for an exam, ruining a relationship with a dear friend, overdrawing from your bank account, realizing you’re in the wrong major, or being sleep deprived – you’re going to feel some major struggles over these next few years. Unless you enjoy being broke, overworked, and stressed, you’re going to feel every emotion in the book while you’re in college. Yes, it will be amazing. But it will also push you to your brink in every sense of the word. You’ll learn who you are. You’ll learn who you’re not. You’ll cry yourself to sleep. You’ll wake up crying. You’ll feel horrible but don’t worry, all of your struggles will have their place in developing you into a better human being.

They’ll tell you:

Join clubs and organizations, make friends, be social!

I’ve learned:

It’s OK to be alone. I only truly began enjoying my college experience after I joined a fraternity. Not because I was partying all the time and acting like a fool but because I had a support system – brothers who believed in me and had my back. But the more and more I became engrained in the lives of others, the more and more I lost touch with who I was. I became an image that I wanted to portray, not a person I actually wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s unbelievable when you find people to share in life’s experiences with, but you have to allow yourself some time to enjoy solitude. When you’re alone, it gives you time to reflect, analyze, and breathe.

You don’t ALWAYS have to be surrounded by your crew. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes, the soul just needs to time to talk to itself.

They’ll tell you:

Make a name for yourself, and speak out!

I’ve learned:

Put aside your ego, be humble, and listen. As 18-year-olds, we know everything. We don’t need your advice, we don’t need “wise words” from old farts – we got it. This mentality mistakenly guides us to lead with our mouth instead of our ears many times. We are too eager to make ourselves known that we go out of our way to make our presence felt. And a lot of times, what we say and what we do is misguided. Instead, rely on absorbing the scene and listening – I mean really listening. Put away your phone, stop looking around, and really pay attention to what’s going on. It’ll benefit you much more to act first with your ears than with your tongue. So take these tips and run like the wind. Enjoy your time here at this amazing university and know that you’ll be 290834902340 times the person when you graduate than the person you are now.

And as a special bonus for reading this far, here are another three quick tips which are absolutely true and applicable to any freshman anywhere: 1) The “Freshman 15” is real – eat well. 2) Avoid Friday classes – they suck. 3) Do not allow yourself to ever become someone’s side piece. You are main piece material.

Juan López is the former Editor in Chief of The Nevada Sagebrush (2011-12) and currently a graduate student in the Master of Business Administration program at the University of Nevada. He can be reached at