You have almost everything packed up for college. You and your roommate have picked out Pinterest-worthy room decorations. You have your twin XL bedsheets, your shower flipflops, and a cool new backpack. You've cross-referenced all of your checklists and used up all of your coupons. Dorm furnishings and new clothes are great, but there'e a couple more things you need to know to be fully prepared for school. Here's what you really need to know to survive in college.
1. Don't buy books from the campus bookstore.
I made this mistake freshman year and spent $800 on books for my first semester (and ended up not using half of them). Don't rush to the campus bookstore as soon as the syllabus comes out! Wait for class to see if you actually need the book first. If you do, rent it online from Chegg or Amazon, split the price with a friend and share the book, or buy one from someone who already took the class. You can save hundreds of dollars, and we all know that in college, every dollar counts.
2. Your first semester friends may not be your forever friends.
As the dust from the craziness of first semester settles, you might look around and realize that a large part of the glue that holds your "squad" together is convenience. They were across the hall during welcome week, and you were both terrified of being that awkward freshman without any friends. You'll lose touch with some of them as you meet new people in clubs or in Greek life, and there's nothing wrong with that- they're meeting new people too! College is a process of growth, and there isn't always room for everyone.
3. There's no such thing as 'not cool'.
In college, NO ONE CARES. Want to show up to class in your PJs? No one cares. Want to wear your super cute new outfit to your 8 am class? No one cares. Eating alone at breakfast? No one cares. Unlike high school, when everyone had nothing better to do than gossip, people in college are focused on their own lives, and they don't care how you're living yours.
4. Don't take the night class.
We all know that 8 ams should be avoided, but night classes can be just as bad. After a long day, the last thing you'll want to do is try to learn something when all of your friends are eating dinner. In extreme scenarios, 8 ams are usually the lesser of the two evils.
5. Don't sit by your friends in class.
Make friends in your classes. Schedule your classes with your friends. But whatever you do, don't sit by your friends in class. You'll get super distracted and miss the important parts of the lesson. Do homework with them after class is over or organize a study group, but try to pay attention for the hour that you're in the class- your grade will thank you.
6. Don't lie about your age.
The bouncer at the club can tell. The upperclassman you want to impress at a party can tell. Just don't do it.
7. Try everything once!
College is the time to try new things! Whether it's going Greek, joining a new club, eating at a new restaurant, or signing up for an unusual class, keep an open mind in everything that you do. You never know when you'll stumble on to a new passion.
8. It's okay to do things by yourself.
When your friends live right down the hall, it’s easy to fall into the group text trap. But just because you have people that will do everything with you doesn't mean you need them to do everything with you! It's totally okay to study by yourself, or go to a club meeting that none of your friends are interested in, or even to stay in when all of your friends are going out. College is a time to make new friends, but it's also a time to get to know yourself, which is hard to do if you're always doing what the group wants to do.
9. Always have a coat.
It's hard to fit all of your clothes from home in your tiny college closet. But no matter what time of the year it is, you should always have a coat handy. You might think you don't need to bring winter clothes back until after Thanksgiving, but Mother Nature is unpredictable, and it could wind up being 40 degrees at the end of September. Better safe than sorry!
10. Make friends with your RA.
It never hurts to be friendly with your RA. A little kindness can go a long way when you have a rough night out, or when there are illegal candles in your room during room checks. Plus, it pays to be friends with someone who has more campus experience than you do. They can help you navigate the shortcuts to class and tell you which station in the dining hall to avoid.
11. Go to any and all meetings that include food.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
12. You actually need rain boots. And snow boots.
And a rain coat, and an umbrella, and a winter coat, and mittens, and a hat. Rainy or snowy weather at home is kind of annoying. But at school, it's a matter of life or death. When you have a 10+ minute walk to class, you need all the weather gear you can wear to make it to class semi-dry and unfrozen.
13. You will get homesick.
I don't care how excited you are to escape your parents and be independent. At some point, you're going to miss your bed, your pets, your family and your friends from home. And that's okay! It's totally normal, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed with school work. Take time to call your mom, FaceTime your friend, or even take a short trip home to visit. Just make sure you aren't spending every weekend at home, or you're going to miss out on a lot of fun.
14. Make friends with your professors.
Last year, I made friends with my accounting professor- went to her office hours, emailed her for homework help, and said hi around campus. It ended up really paying off, because I forgot to complete the back page of a test once, and she let me come back in the next day to finish it. If she hadn't, I would have been dropped a whole letter grade in the class! Get to know your professors! Building a bond with a professor is a great way to get good references for future jobs or for other classes that you want to get into.
15. Always carry a charger in your backpack.
You never know when you'll need a little extra charge on your phone or laptop! You should always keep a portable charger handy in case you don't have time to run back to your room before class or during a library study session.
16. Cramming isn't a thing.
Gone are the days when you could study the night before a test and ace it the next morning. In college, you HAVE to prepare. There is no way you can start a 6 page paper the night before it's due and expect to get a good grade. You just can't. Give yourself at least 3 days to study for a test or write a paper. Both tasks are much easier to tackle when you can split them up over a few days. Your brain and your sleep schedule will thank you.
17. Don't spend money just because your friends do.
College is super hard. Sometimes you need to treat yourself. But there's a big difference between treating yourself and emptying your bank account. It's tempting to go out to eat every night with your roommate instead of eating the same boring food at the dining hall, but truly being an adult means knowing how to keep a budget.
18. You will have to force yourself to exercise.
In high school, you had a set time after school every day to work out with a whole team of other people doing the exact same thing. In college, nobody is going to make you exercise. In fact, nobody really cares if you are or aren't exercising. It's up to you to choose between your bed and the treadmill. If you're having a hard time saying no to another episode of Netflix, then take it with you! Watching your favorite show on the treadmill or on the bike is better than watching it in your bed.
19. You don't have to drink.
Like I said before, in college, nobody really cares what you do. If you want to drink alcohol, then go for it. If you don't want to, then don't! Whether you just want a night off, or you're not comfortable drinking at all, don't feel pressured to do anything you don't want to. (And if your friends are pressuring you, then consider finding some new friends!)
20. Don't wear your lanyard around your neck.
(I really wish someone had told me this freshman year!) Yes, your room keys are super important, but whatever you do, don't wear them around your neck. It screams "freshman." Stick them in your pocket, wear them on a hair-tie around your wrist, or keep them in your backpack.