First year at college is exciting. A totally new campus, new professors and likely a lot of new friends. While this can be pretty stressful, remember that millions and millions of people have all been through it and survived; you will too. Check out these 15 pieces of advice and comment below any more you would add to this list!
1. What to bring – Ask an older friend or find a general packing list for college but also try to think outside of the box. A lot of students forget things like rain-boots or umbrellas or Band-Aids. Try walking around your home and seeing if anything jumps out at you. Trust me, you won’t want to run across campus under an old school newspaper because you didn’t bring an umbrella. Been there, done that. Don’t forget medication either!! If you need to transfer pharmacies do it sooner rather than right before you remember you need a refill!
2. New roommate – Get to know your roommate a little before moving in. Even if you know your roommate, moving in together can be at least a little stressful. Ask them what their favorite TV show, sports team, band, etc. to help ease tension. Find common ground and build on it. You might just find a new buddy to watch Pretty Little Liars with on Tuesday nights!
3. Smooth living with another person – Set ground rules when you move in. Don’t be a stick in the mud, but be honest. If you go to sleep earlier than they do, ask if they can use a little desk lamp instead of the main room light so you can still fall asleep. Not a fan of coming home after a long day to five people in your small room? Ask your roomie to send you a text to warn you of visitors. Make sure your roomie is ok with overnight guests before your best friend from high school visits for the weekend. Be especially honest about significant others. Don’t be that roomie that sexiles your roommate. It’s no fun for anyone.
4. Laundry – Know how to do your laundry! YouTube it, ask your family, figure it out. You don’t want to ruin your favorite shirt because you washed or dried it incorrectly. Read the labels!! And please don’t leave your stuff sitting in a machine for hours (or even days…I’m not even kidding. People do it.). It’s an inconvenience to everyone else who needs to do laundry. Don’t mess with other people’s stuff either. Personally, I give 10-15 minutes to get their completed laundry out of a machine. After that, I consider it reasonable to move it. Don’t dump it on the floor; find a table or top of a machine to keep it clean. Use your phone as a timer. Some schools even have an online tracker to know when their machine is done which can be super helpful.
5. Books – Don’t buy from the bookstore! As convenient as it is, you can save so much money by buying elsewhere. Ask your RA or older friends if they have the needed books. Use sites like Chegg and Slugbooks to find the cheapest books. Some bookstore textbooks are unavoidable (I’m looking at you, Spanish textbooks) but check your options before you spend several hundred bucks. Even better, ask around if the professor even really uses the book. Why spend money if you don’t truly need to?
6. Meals – Pay attention to your meal plan. Some colleges have a certain number of meal swipes (or an equivalent). Make sure you understand how it works so you don’t run out with three weeks left of school. Be smart about what you eat too. That ice cream machine is great but you don’t need to use it every time you go into the dining hall.
7. Food – Bring snacks. Raiding the vending machine whenever you’re hungry is a money-killer and unhealthy. You don’t need to buy a Costco size pack of pretzels but having a box of individual bags versus buying the $1.50 one in the vending machine is a good investment. Keep healthy options in your room, especially for late nights. As great as M&Ms are, eating them at 3AM probably isn’t going to fuel your brain for that exam the next morning. Have a bag of apples or nuts on hand for some brain power.
8. Partying – if you’ve never drank before (and since it’s your first year of college, I would think not) GO SLOW. Alcohol might take a while to hit you. It’s better to go slow than to drink too much too fast and lose control. If you want to drink, be careful about it. Learn the signs of alcohol poisoning and keep an eye on people who might have had too much alcohol. If you think someone might be in trouble, call 911; don’t worry about someone getting in trouble. Worrying about getting in trouble isn’t worth someone’s life; get them help. Don’t take anything you didn’t pour yourself or witness pouring. Date rape drugs are often hard to detect so be careful about what you intake. On the other hand, if you don’t want to drink, people will likely not peer pressure you. People don’t really care whether or not you drink. Don’t ever walk home alone or let someone else walk home alone. Girls, I’m especially talking to you. It sucks that I have to say that, but you really are safer in numbers.
9. Join clubs! – The best things I have ever done in college are all related to the clubs and groups I’ve joined. You’ll find people who share your interests and make a ton of friends. A lot of colleges have a vast number of groups for you to join. Sports, volunteering, specific TV shows, academic/majors, and so much more. Most colleges also have a process to create a club if you think of one they don’t already have. If finding more friends isn’t enticing enough, leadership roles always look great on resumes.
10. Attend events! – Don’t spend every second in your room or a classroom. Go to that event that caught your eye on the way home from class. You could have an amazing time or get to do something really cool but you won’t know unless you go. Grab a friend or strike up a conversation with someone at the event. Even if the event sounds like it could be a dud, there’s likely free food or something that will make it worth going. I almost skipped an event that turned out to be my favorite event of the year and I’m so glad that I took a chance on it.
11. Being unsure – Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Most students and faculty will love to help you if they can. Your RA can be especially helpful because they should know quite a bit about the college and its services and what goes on. That first day is tough for everyone. People will likely be even more helpful if they know it’s your first day ever. Everyone has been there at some point and knows how stressful and intimidating it is.
12. Go to office hours – Your professors don’t want you to fail or struggle in their classes. Professors are often more helpful than you think they’ll be. In smaller colleges, your professor getting to know you can be really helpful. Every professor should have office hours, AKA a time for their students to come to them with questions. Be prepared when you go in; some professors have a lot of students to get to. Know what you’re having problems with or what you’re getting stuck on.
13. Make friends with classmates and people in your residence hall – Missed class and need the notes? You need to know at least one person since the professor likely isn’t going to send you the PowerPoint you missed. Need to bake something for your club’s bake sale but realize that you don’t have a brownie pan the night before? Maybe your neighbor down the hall can help you out and lend you one. (Wash it before you give it back!!) Knowing people can be a lifesaver so make at least one friend in every class and keep your door open when you’re home. You never know who is going to become your new best friend.
14. Make friends will upperclassmen – As a freshman, you probably can’t have a car and the closest mall or grocery store may be more than walking distance. Having an older friends with a car can be a lifesaver. They also can help you with books or knowing which professors are the best (and more importantly, which to avoid).
15. Don’t be afraid to let go of the past – That person you were really good friends with in high school but haven’t texted a word to since college started? Yeah, it’s ok to let them go. Sometimes you’re only friends with people because you see them every day for four years. It’s ok to realize that you aren’t going to be BFFs with people from high school; you’ll make so many friends in college. College is about your future, not your past.