Tips for Incoming Freshmen
by Meredith Winnett
It’s becoming more and more apparent that college is ending. That sucks. There are fewer than two months until commencement and that is not ok. What am I supposed to do, be an adult? No way! I’m having too much fun not caring. Take today for instance. I have a paper due in my 2:15 class. Did I work on it last night? NO! So I decided to skip class and work on it. YOU CAN’T DO THAT WHEN YOU’RE A REAL ADULT WITH A REAL JOB BECAUSE YOU GET FIRED.
So I want to write a message for those who are entering college in the fall like my baby brother. It’s stuff I did not know coming into school so I’d like all the incoming freshmen to know how to make the most of your four short years.
- Get Out There – Go join some clubs! Always wanted to play Quidditch but none of your new friend want to? Join the Quidditch team anyway. Have a sport you want to play but don’t want to be on the school team? Join an intramural team! Play an instrument but aren’t a music major? Stop by the music department and see if there’s an ensemble you can join. This is a great chance to go out and meet your forever friends. Which brings me to my next point…
- Your First Friends aren’t Forever – Think you LOVE your first roommate and you’re going to be BFFFFFs? No. Everyone changes over their first two years of school so you may cycle through many different friends. By the end of sophomore year, you should have a solid group of friends. That doesn’t mean you won’t stay friends with EVERYONE you mean freshman year. I’m best friends with someone I met at orientation. However, it is highly unlikely that your friends freshman year will be around forever. And that’s ok! So get out and meet as many people as possible.
- Travel – Do you want to do a semester in China? Go ahead. College is the absolute best time to travel. Your school probably has some pretty good travel deals too, so take advantage of them. Also, if you want to go somewhere but your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend doesn’t, do it anyway. Like when I went to Vietnam! I kinda just went even though I didn’t know anyone on the trip. This is another way to make some great, lifelong friends.
- Talk to your Professors – Like actually talk with them. Stop by some office hours even if you’re just having a little chit chat. They have a lot they can teach you that you can’t learn in a classroom. They have real life experience and you could learn a lesson or two related to your field of study. That could be useful once you grow up a little once your fantastic four years is up. If you get to know them well, your classroom performance can improve and you have people who can write you a very good recommendation. #Networking
- You Might Change Your Major – and not just once… When I came to school, I was undeclared for about a week before I declared a History major. I was going to work in a Smithsonian museum and have a super fabulous life. After an awful experience with a history class, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I changed my major to Communication with a Journalism concentration. Funny story, I no longer want to be a journalist but I want to work in PR. The point is your life goals will change and that’s ok. You have time to decide what you want to do. If you have no idea, go in undeclared and continue as undeclared until you find something you love!
- Party – This is the best way to bond with your new friends and some strangers who can become your best friend for 10 minutes then you avoid eye contact for the next four years. HOWEVER, please please please be safe about it. Know your limits, do not leave your friends, and definitely do not leave your comfort zone. Do not be the stupid freshman who passes out in a pile of their own vomit in the wrong bathroom on the first night you move in (yes this happened to someone in my hallway freshman year. no they did not come back to school ever.). So basically, have fun, but be smart about it. Keep in mind, you are underage and this is illegal. The campus police won’t care as long as you’re being smart about it. Start acting stupid and you’ll get in major trouble.
- Take a Nap – Napping is the best part about school. You’ll probably be a little sleepy after all your socializing and waking up impossibly early because you got stuck with the earliest classes. So take a 20 minute catnap while you can 🙂
- Stick it Out – It is suggested for students living on campus that they stay on campus for the first month of college. I know you’ll miss your parents the second they leave (admit it. we all did), but you can’t get in the habit of going home all the time. That’s not growing up. This will teach you to be more independent! Embrace it. And if you have a tough time, talk to a friend about it.
- Be a Good Roommate – Freshman year roommates suck. Mainly because they don’t know how to be roommates yet. They’ll leave messes in your tiny room, they’ll wake you up when they stumble in drunk at 4 am, and they’ll distract you when you’re studying. Be respectful of your roommates. Ask before you use things, offer to leave the room if they have a companion over, shower, and most of all open discussion so you know what will and will not bother your roommates. This is a stressful time for everyone so try not to be a pain to the people you’re going to live with for eight months.
- Don’t Over Pack – I still find myself with too much stuff that I don’t use and don’t have room for. It’s better to bring what you know you need for the first month then get whatever else the next time you go home. Your school will probably send out something that says what to take and what not to take.
- Indulge – Don’t stress too much about the freshman 15. If your friends want to get frozen yogurt, or order pizza, go ahead! Life is short, so enjoy it. However…
- Don’t Over Indulge – You don’t want to be the person who gains 50 pounds in college. Eat your indulgent foods in moderation. Hit the gym. Now is the time to learn how to balance fun and fit. When I go to the gym, I make sure I earn what I consume over the weekend. Also, the gym is a great place to beat college stress, so take advantage of that 🙂
- Do NOT Pay Bookstore Prices – Sure it’s convenient to buy your books on campus and head to class with a freshly bought book. This will cost you a fortune. Books are one of college’s hidden fees and they really hurt. Try Chegg, Amazon, or Ebay for cheap books. And while you’re taking core classes that are irrelevant to the rest of your life, rent books. I bought an intro to psychology book that was about $100 and I never used it and never will use it. Don’t make my mistake.
- Pay Attention – Your core classes may seem irrelevant now, but all those C’s in your science and math classes can catch up to you. Say you don’t do well in a few of your core classes – that could become the difference between a 3.299 and a 3.3, or not graduating with honors and graduating with honors. Do your best while the classes are easy so you don’t hate yourself in your final semester. If you need help, look for a tutor (your school may have them for free), or visit your professor during their office hours. This will show you’re putting in an effort and your professor may boost your grade as an effect. Also, don’t skip a class if you’re struggling. Make sure to attend every class and take good notes.
- Skip Class – Yes, I just said not to. BUT ONLY IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING. When the weather is getting nicer, the 4 unexcused absences look really tempting. If you want to skip a class to go sit on the green, do it. Just don’t skip to the point where it effects your grade.
- Don’t Hold Back – If your high school sweetheart is holding you back to the point where you’re not making any new friends because of their jealousy, you may want to find a new sweetheart. You’re in college. Go have fun and stop lingering on the past. If you continue the pattern of letting them hold you back, it can be a disaster. Someone will either 1) cheat or 2) regret the relationship. If your relationship is unhealthy it’s time to say goodbye. I did, and now I have a man boyfriend instead of a high school boyfriend. (Seriously guys, my boyfriend is incredible and I am so happy I ditched the loser).
- Go Clothes Shopping – I am to the point where I have enough clothes to last me a month before doing laundry. This saves me a TON of money on laundry because I can just wait until the next time I go home. I suggest you do the same.
- Know When Your Laundry is Done – If you forget your clothes in the washer for 3 hours, they may be somewhere else when you go back. To take up a machine for longer than needed is rude and other people will move your clothes so they can do their laundry. Set a timer on your phone and be ready to move your laundry when it’s done.
- Skip the Caffeine – I’m a hypocrite for telling you this since I’m drinking coffee as I type. But I have a caffeine addiction. I’m also fighting acne because of it. And if you head to Dunkies or Starbucks, you’re more likely to order coffee with too much cream and sugar and get fat because of it. Yeah, that’s harsh, but it’s true. Rather than reaching for some coffee when you’re sleepy, drink some ice water, eat some fruit, or get some more sleep. Your body will love you for it.
- Learn to Cook – Even if you just have a microwave. You don’t want to be that asshole who sets off the fire alarms because you were drunk and made popcorn as 3 am and forgot to check it. Everyone will hate you and you’ll have to transfer because you’re such an asshole.
- WEAR FLIP FLOPS WHEN YOU SHOWER IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN APARTMENT OF YOUR OWN. Trust me on this. You don’t want athlete’s foot.
- Don’t Forget Advising – I did my freshman year and ended up getting advised in the last hour the last day before registration. Find out important dates like this. And don’t expect to get every class you want. As a freshman, you’re most likely not going to get into a super fun class because it’s already full. Make tons of back-up schedules and be ready for disappointment. Your first registration without hating your life will not come until you register for the first semester of junior year.
- Embrace Care Packages – Any gift from home, even if it’s just your mom mailing you your checks, will make even the worst day into the best day. And don’t forget to say thank you.
Best of luck in this very exciting time in your life. Please make the most of college and have as much fun as possible. After this, you’re an adult and need to actually work which is never fun. I wish I could go back and do it all again, but I can’t.
Any tips for incoming freshmen? Let them know in the comments! They’ll love you forever.