It All Begins Here
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Student Life

It All Begins Here

A first year's guide to college.

It All Begins Here

The day you walk on to campus for the first day of your first year of college, you will experience a feeling unlike any other. You will pile all of your belongings into a laundry bin and shuffle it up the elevator with your parents to the room you will share with a stranger for the next nine months. Your parents will help you get organized of course even though it will look like a laundry bomb went off in the matter of days and that new comforter that just was set up on your bed probably won't be washed for the next few months or really ever. You will embark on the first floor meeting with an RA, and you'll meet the people that you will see in towels on their way to the bathroom, highly intoxicated and passed out in couch in the commons on a Saturday night, or you may see getting yelled at by an RA for smoking inside. The world of college is never dull. Eventually your parents will leave, tears will flow and you will be completely on your own. Everything that happens next is up to you and both the good and the bad choices will be a reflection of your eventful first year of college and here is a guide to hopefully make your choices mostly good ones.

Don't Bring Too Much Stuff

When I first moved into school, I was so concerned with being "organized" that I brought way more stuff than I actually needed. You don't need three fans unless of course you live in the south without air conditioning. You don't need drawer organizers or fancy storage for under your bed. As long as you can find what you need, you're good!

Become Friends With People In Your Dorm

These people are going to be surrounding you your entire first year. In college, especially your first year, you don't want to make enemies and you could use any friend you can make. Find people to eat in the dining hall with, people to order pizza with at 3 AM, or people to go to that event downstairs in the commons.

Don't Buy Textbooks at the Bookstore

Textbooks are essential to nearly every class but can burn a hole in your pocket if you don't do your research before buying them. Nearly every textbook can be found online on websites such as Amazon, Chegg, or eBay for much cheaper than the bookstore. Amazon Prime even has a program that allows you to rent textbooks and return them at the end of the semester for between $10 and $30 each! Only time you should consult the bookstore is when your class requires an online access code (which often don't come with Amazon textbooks).

Sell Your Textbooks Back

If you do decide to buy your textbooks (hopefully at a cheaper price than at the bookstore) companies come to nearly every school buying textbooks off of students to sell them again online. Last semester I sold around eight textbooks and they gave me about $130 which is a lot for a broke college student.

Talk To Your Parents and Old Friends

In the world of technology that we live in, it is easier than ever to get in contact with people far away. Although you are on your own at school doesn't mean that the people you left behind at home don't exist. Your parents will want to hear from you as much as possible even if you don't follow through on your end of that deal. Talk to your parents, hear about their day and what has been happening lately in their lives and trust me you're going to want to hear your friend's crazy college stories just as much as they want to hear yours!

Sit In The Front

You went away to college to get an education. You're not there to party, to play a sport, to be in a sorority, you are ultimately there to learn new things and broaden your horizons. Don't waste your time or your professor's time by sitting in the back of class or not paying attention. In a big lecture hall its hard to not get distracted by your laptop or phone. Sit in the front, pay attention, and ask questions. Pick up a new skill or learn something you wouldn't expect to, this is the point of college.

Go To Office Hours

Office hours allow your professor to get to know you which believe me is a great thing. They will help you understand the material better, ask questions, get intel on what the exam is going to be like, and may lead to a letter of recommendation for graduate school later. There are a lot of awesome professors out there that will be more than happy to help you, if you are interested in the material they are teaching!

Take A Class In Something New Each Semester

You're going to have to take electives in college and with a difficult course load of science, math, and difficult classes for your major it may be hard to find a balance in your schedule. Take a class in something new, something that sounds interesting and may be an easy grade; your brain will thank you come final exam time when you're stressing about your 17 credit course load of mostly maths and sciences at least then you'll have a class that requires little studying compared to the others.

Find Your Study Spot

I can't stress how important studying is in college. You don't have homework grades or easy grades boosting you up. Most classes rely on three or four comprehensive exams and maybe a project if you're lucky therefore studying is a necessity. College isn't like high school, its hard to get through without studying or doing the homework assigned. You also can't believe that studying the night before your exam is going to be sufficient. Find a spot whether it is in the stacks at the library, a cafe in the underground of the student center, or the desk in your room you need a spot away from distractions where you can get what you need to get done, over with.

Get Involved

The beginning of each semester should consist of an activities fair where you can learn about all the possible clubs, sports, and ways to involve yourself in college life. There is something for everyone! My school offers anything you could ever think of including the American Sign Language Club, Body Building Club, Futurology Club, Juggling Club and Irish Dance Club among a variety of club and NCAA sports.

The Freshman 15 Is Real!

Avoid Ramen, microwavable meals, and dining hall deserts at all costs. Believe me when I tell you, the Freshman 15 is a reality. Its wonderful to have the freedom to eat as much as you want whenever you want but it's not all it's cracked up to be. After your fifth canoli or eighth bowl of cereal you'll realize.

Don't Give In To Stress

College is hard, that is no question. There are going to be days where you are on top of the world and days where you just want to crawl into bed and forget about your priorities. When school gets to be too much remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes, take a break, do something to get your mind off of school and then get through it. The stress only lasts so long and then it is over and you can move on. You can get through it!

Don't Be Stupid

You know the difference between a good choice and a bad choice. Make sure to separate yourselves from the bad choices and the bad people and surround yourself with people that make you a better, smarter, and stronger person and a student. One bad night can follow you for the rest of your life. Be safe, walk with friends, don't walk by yourself at night. It's not always what you do wrong but what others will do. Be cautious of situations and your surroundings. Don't caught up in drama, toxic relationships, or the wrong crowd.

College is a great time. You learn so much about yourself and the people around you. It is the beginning of the rest of your life. Don't screw it up over one stupid night, bad people, or mistakes. Be happy with your decisions, make friends, have fun! You did all the work to get into the school you are going to. You took the tests, you survived 13 years of school to get where you are now don't waste it!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Chris Barbalis

One of the best things about summers in college is getting to go home. Yes, we work ungodly hours but at least we get to come back to our own bed and mom's cooking. I sat in my dorm back in May counting down the finals that I had left until I was able to go back to where I grew up. It's hard to think though that I'll never have the chance to count that down again.

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