It's back-to-school time again, but this year is going to be different. You're a first-time college freshman! Whether you're in the dorms already or you move in within the next few weeks, you already know that you're beginning a journey unlike anything you've ever experienced. Throughout my college experience, I've learned so many things that I wish I would have known as a freshman. Lucky for you, now that I'm entering my senior year, I know a lot of those things that would have helped me my freshman year, so today I'm going to pass a little bit of that knowledge on to you.
1. Use an alarm clock.
This seems obvious. If you want to get to class on time, you have to wake up on time. Unfortunately, even though our bodies will wake us up after we've had the proper amount of sleep, the proper amount of sleep doesn't always line up with when we need to get to class. If you're anything like me in high school, you occasionally used your parents' voices as an alarm. Bad news: your parents aren't here to wake you up anymore. That's why you absolutely need an alarm. You can buy a cheap alarm clock from most retail stores, or, if you don't want to buy a physical alarm clock, you can always use your phone's alarm clock app. And if you don't like your phone's preinstalled alarm clock app? There are plenty of other alarm clocks in the app store, including one that plays the voice of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
2. Clean regularly.
Unless you shared a room with your brother or sister as a child, chances are that this will be the first time you have a roommate. When you live in a room by yourself, you don't necessarily need to clean your room that often, but if you want to get along with your roommate, you need to learn at least some basic cleaning habits. Take your trash out at least once a week. Do your laundry before your laundry basket starts to overflow. If you have a private bathroom, deep clean your shower, sink, and toilet once a month. Your dorm room doesn't need to be spotless. It just needs to be livable.
3. Know when food goes bad.
If you're anything like the average college student, you're going to want food in your room. If you want to stay healthy after eating that food, you need to make sure your food stays fresh. All foods have an expiration date. Prepackaged foods like milk or bread will have the expiration date directly on the container. Other foods, like fresh fruit or the cupcakes your mom made for you won't specifically say when to throw them away. Most of the time, it will be pretty obvious when your food needs to go, but if you're not sure, look it up. You don't want to end up sick.
4. Don't go overboard on school supplies.
School supplies are a necessity, but unlike when you were in high school, you don't need a whole lot of them. In high school, you needed mountains of notebooks, binders, highlighters, pens, pencils, markers, calculators, and...the list could go on. In college, you just start out with the basics: a couple of notebooks, a few pencils, and a few pens. In your first day of class, you'll receive your syllabus for that class and you'll know if there are any additional supplies you need.
5. When you're in your room, leave the door open.
Making friends is hard when you don't know anybody. It can be hard to relate to people you don't know anything about. Luckily, leaving your dorm room door open makes it a little easier. If a group of people are going out to eat, they might see you and invite you along. Someone walking by might see the poster of your favorite movie hanging above your bed and stop in for a conversation. I'm not saying you need to keep your door open all the time. If you have homework or if you just need some alone time, a closed door can keep away unwanted disturbances. But, if you're open to conversation and meeting new people, it can sometimes be as simple as an open door.
6. Go to campus events.
Entertainment can be expensive. Whether you're into clubbing or just going out to watch movies, off-campus events can become pricey when you're living on a college budget. That's why campus events are so important. Most often, events hosted by Student Activities Boards or other campus groups are free. They're a great way to de-stress and meet new people, so make sure you take advantage of the different things you can do on campus.
7. Call your parents.
Your mom and dad care about you. They've done everything they could to get you to this moment in your life. The least you can do is call them every so often. It doesn't matter if it takes ten minutes or an hour. It doesn't matter if you're asking for money or asking for advice. It doesn't matter if you call to talk about your day or if you call to say that you love them. Your parents just want to hear you voice. Give them that. It'll make their day, and sometimes it'll make your day, too.