You made it! You’ve spent the past two years (if not more) talking about, applying to, getting waitlisted for, going on tours of, and preparing for college. Now it’s time to pack your bags, buy an adorable new comforter and try not to cry when your Mom walks out of the dorm and you realize you’re on your own. No matter where you go to University, the issues of being a college freshman remain the same – things like homesickness, roommate politics, time management, figuring out what you want to do with your life and even figuring out what you should eat for lunch every day can be overwhelming. Why am I qualified to give tips on this topic? I went to a large state school for a year before transferring to Boston College (Go Eagles!), so I went through the nerve-wracking process of starting over at college more than once. After a year at BC I landed a summer work study job as a peppy tour guide in the admissions office, and the year after that I was a peppy orientation leader. You know – those upperclassman that do silly skits about the dangers of drinking and then lead you in icebreakers. That’s ME!
Don’t Be Too Cool For School (or other campus activities)
Listen, starting college is like starting over – you can be whoever you want (though some would advise to JUST BE YOURSELF). No one knows that you used to be called ‘nips’ when your boobs grew, or about that time you crashed your Dad’s car through the garage door. Wait, what? The point is, you get a clean slate. And even though the ice breakers and team building activities those orientation people make you do are painfully awkward at times, most of the information they give you and personal experiences they share will be of great value. I promise! So listen to them, attend some of the activities your RA plans, no matter how corny they may sound. Plus, you’re going to want to be on your RA’s good side and showing up to their events is a good way to say, ‘Hey, I’m not too cool for this trust fall/name game/mixer we’re about to participate in.’ You might actually have fun. Or at least have a good story to bond with your hallmates over. Here is a picture of me and my fellow orientation leaders in all our glory, circa 2002. Yes, I’m wearing pigtails. And yes, my shirt says ‘There’s a party in my pants” with arrows pointing towards my crotch. Don’t ask.
Sure, ideally you’d love to show up on move in day, have matching posters to hang on the walls (OMG! We didn’t even plan it!) and realize that your roommate is your new best friend for life. That’s awesome. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes roommates are terrible. But more often than not, we get a roommate that is just fine – not our best friend but certainly not our nemesis. It’s important to have realistic expectations. The bottom line: Don’t be a jerk. Clean up after yourself, keep it down and give a heads up before you have people over. Not that hard. The hard part is confronting your roommate if they turn out to in fact be one of those afore-mentioned jerks.
Don’t Let All That Freshman 15 Noise Get in Your Head
We’ve all heard about the “freshman 15″ (or 20) – of course it’s a different for everyone, but whether it’s real for you or not, don’t let it get in your head. In other words, don’t try to avoid the freshman 15 so much that you make yourself crazy. Or sick. There’s enough to worry about during your first semester at college –give yourself the gift of letting your body off the hook and accept that there might be an adjustment period. Most people who play sports in high school don’t continue that into college – so maybe you’re not working out as much, and there’s different food than you’re used to. So what if you gain a few pounds? Give yourself a break and just try as much as possible to make good choices, get enough sleep and drink more water than beer.
I don’t mean that in a hippie dippy new age way, I mean it in a pretty literal way. You don’t want to be the person who goes home every weekend, or is on their phone all the time talking (or worse, fighting) with your hometown honey. No matter how out of your comfort zone you are, at least for the first semester do your best to meet as many people and try as many things as possible. Also – be present for class! You, your parents and/or the government are paying waaaay too much money for you to skip out on class because of a snowstorm, hangover or bad mood. Take it from me – my senior year I skipped a ton of my Spanish classes and despite having good grades, almost didn’t graduate for not fulfilling a requirement. Plus, I can’t really speak Spanish and that would have come in handy a lot for me since then. No bueno.
Pick Classes You Actually Like
Sure, if you want to be a doctor, you’re gonna have to take Organic Chemistry. But for the classes you get to take outside of your requirements and majors (which is pretty open at least for the first two years), I urge you to take things you’re interested in or even think you may be interested in. I never wanted to be a psychologist, but Psychology 101 was my favorite class. And I regret not taking more courses that appealed to me like modern dance or women’s studies. So if you’ve always wanted to learn about middle eastern politics, Italian or costume design, give yourself that chance. Again – you, your parents and/or the government are paying waaay to much money for you to take classes that you’re only lukewarm about. The best way to excel academically in college is to actually like the classes you attend. But more than anything, once you graduate, the opportunities you have to pursue your interests become less and less abundant whether it’s because you’re focused on paying bills or just generally living adult life. Never again will you have so many opportunities at your fingertips. So take advantage!
A few more pointers:
Fake IDs are not worth the hassle or the risk. I promise, you have decades of standing around awkwardly at bars ahead of you.
If you do drink, be safe. Use common sense and stick with your girls. Also, keep it classy. You do not want to be known as the person that needs babysitting. And even though you can reinvent yourself at college, it’s hard for people to forget the one that got so drunk and sick all over her dress at her birthday party that her roommates had to literally cut it off her because she passed out so hard on the common room floor. Not that I know.
Most of all though, have fun and be grateful that you get to wake up every day, meet new people, expand your mind, and have such little responsibility. Cause the next thing you know, you’ll be 31 and Googling ‘hats made of cheese’ when you really should be writing an article about starting college.
Photo by College Bound