It's that time of year again, College Acceptance Season. Seniors across the country are receiving letters congratulating them on their hard work, and rewarding them with admission to an excellent school. While tours are great, orientation weekend is awesome, and information sessions will provide you with so much information, there is often a gap between what the university or college tells you, and the minute details that will seriously reduce stress over the course of your first year. I am here to share with you things I learned this year as a freshman that I think all freshmen should know.
1. Stay Organized
While in the first month you might be able to keep your side of the dorm clean, you've made your bed every day, folded your laundry and neatly put it away every time, this phase will not last. Once you start to let things slide, you didn't make your bed one morning, or something to that degree, things will slowly start to spiral. I used to have a very neat side of the room, and now it's kind of scary. Not to mention it makes focusing on what's actually important very hard. The state of your room often reflects the state of your mind, so when you stay organized, you are likely to be more productive academically.
2. Don't be scared of the Freshmen 15
One of the most famous occurrences in a person's freshmen year is the freshmen 15, the point at which you gain 15 pounds during your first year, and spend the rest of your college education to remove. It sounds scary, but it does not have to be. I actually laughed in the face of the Freshmen 15 by losing nearly 15 pounds my first semester. Not on purpose, it was mostly due to the fact that I had heard horror stories about the campus food, and was slightly terrified to eat. Therefore, I was extremely conscious about EVERYTHING I ate, and made a solid routine as to when I would eat what to stay balanced. This, coupled with about 6 hours of consistent exercise per week, kept the 15 at bay. It is not hard to stay aware of what you eat, but make sure you can see when and how food is being prepared (Having a Chipotle on campus also helped a lot).
3. Make some upperclassmen friends
This one has helped me a lot. Find an upperclassmen in one of your classes, and don't be afraid to ask them for advice. They can help with figuring out which teachers are helpful, and which to avoid. Having friends who are farther along in their college process is a good investment, if only to guide you through your first year. Being that they have been in school a while, they know what their doing, but they are still trying to figure things out just like us. They are a great ally, and I definitely benefitted from having them around.
4. Skip class as little as possible
You will have days where getting up will be like finding the holy grail: it just won't happen. But I implore you to find the motivation, because even if you do hate your 10AM Physics class, you need those lecture notes just as much as an extra 3 hours of sleep. And trust me, the more you sleep, the more you will want to sleep. It is overall better for you to start your day than to chill out for a couple extra hours. You will understand the material more and feel more secure in your understanding of the subject.
5. Have Two Default Outfits
There will come a day when you have to pull an all-nighter, you will not hear the six alarms you set for yourself, and you will wake up with 8 minutes until class, and you cannot miss today's lecture. It is at moments like this that you will need a default outfit. If you are like the Business students at Temple's Fox School of Business, then there will be certain days where you have to dress is business attire, and you can already have that chosen. But the rest of the time, you probably will want to keep it casual. Please do not be the guy who shows up in a full pajama set at 11 in the morning, instead, have a backup pair of jeans and a clean shirt that you can throw on and run out the door.
That being said, there are some days where you just do not have any more craps to give, and you need sweatpants and coffee. Have that readily at your disposal, because lab day is a drag and you really do not feel up to impressing your TA. A flannel and leggings or joggers with slip on converse is so comfortable, and is still somewhat put together.
6. Backup Money
If you have not already, you will, very quickly, learn the value of the dollar. Your spending habits will surface very quickly, and they will not be pretty. Keep some money on the side in a student savings account so that, if something happens, you will not be flat broke. Trust me, there will be some health problem you have your first year, whether it is the worst cold of your life, an introduction to extreme allergy season, or absolutely terrible sunburn on your face. Or maybe you are being introduced to a Wawa for the first time, I hope you all get that chance, and you are preparing to have the best hoagie of your life. In my case, I almost broke my foot the first month of school, and needed to buy a brace for my foot. In general, it is smart to keep some money at your disposal for emergencies, you never know what might happen.
7. How to Make Friends
I wish I could say that this is an easy one, but that is simply not the case. Loneliness will be inevitable your first year, that is a fact, but you have a new control over the situation being that you are, officially, an adult. The best way for me was joining activities and clubs, and generally being involved on campus. When my RA hosts events for my hall, I try to attend and get to know the people on my floor. I am also involved in several clubs and activities, and attend related events. Since I'm in an A Cappella group, I attend the events for other groups and get to know people through that. I also am part of a dance group, which in itself is very close, but we sometimes collaborate with other groups in large events, and that is a great way to meet other dancers in groups besides my own. My third group, which has been the most beneficial, is the club for my major. I am a Music Theory major, there are not a lot of us, so getting together and discussing theory with other people studying it is great; we help each other out and have fun while sharing our common interest.
8. It Is OK To Speak Up
At this point, you may be freaking out a little bit, and that is expected. You are moving into another stage in your life and development as a person, and there is so much pressure to make it count, you might lose sight of why you are there in the first place. College is not something you should do to impress your parents and friends, nor is it for the feint of heart. I know that I was very lucky because I ended up at a school seemingly built for me, I have never been so happy in an educational environment. However, I also know several people who have transferred from where they are to another school, several of whom to my own (Go Owls), and that is okay. It is never too late to find where you belong, so if it does not feel right, speak up. Nothing can change without the problem being addressed. Take time to look at your options, weigh the pros and cons of each school, and decide what you want from your place of education. If you get it right on the first try, congratulations! If not, but you eventually do, congratulations! Either way, you have the ultimate control over your happiness and your future.
9. In The End...
College will be what you make of it. You will ultimately decide how its environment will affect you, and that is a great feeling. Do not be afraid to try new things or ask for help. The only way to make these years count is if you make them your own, so go out there, get messy, make mistakes, own up to them, and have the time of your life because it is just that, your life.