Hello, all college freshman! Can you believe it’s finally happening? You have been waiting all senior year for this moment. You’ve signed your acceptance papers. You’ve made official Facebook posts about the college you’ve chosen to go to. You’ve gotten everything in your school's colors. You’ve gone dorm shopping. You’ve pinned so many cute dorm ideas on your Pinterest board. You’ve read hundreds of articles (that were all basically the same) about the “Top 10 Items You Must Bring To College” and “How To Survive Your Freshman Year.” Now all you have to do is start the newest chapter of your life.
Well, here are some more tips on how to get through your first year of college from a girl who just finished hers.
1. Let your parents be a part of your move-in day.
You might not get it at first, but your parents are going through a huge change, too. They’re watching their child take their first steps into adulthood and completely leaving the nest.
Let your mom make your bed and help put up decorations (even if she isn’t putting them where you want them). Let your dad say hello to everyone on your floor and every new face you pass. Let him tell all the dad jokes in the world, because you won’t be there all the time to roll your eyes and groan.
Remember to thank them for everything that day and don’t forget to say that you love them. You may not believe me, but you will miss them, whether it be the first night or sometime during the first month.
2. Leave your door open.
Once all the parents leave and you’ve become well acquainted with your roommate, leave your door wide open for people to walk in. College is one of the few places where walking into a stranger's room is socially acceptable within the first few weeks. Take advantage of this! This is another easy way to meet your dorm neighbors, make new friends and learn what type of people are on your floor. These are the people you’ll be seeing just about every day. They’re the ones you can reach out to when you lock yourself out of your room and need to wait an hour before security can come to let you back in. One of these people may even become one of your best friends.
During my first week of college, I left my door open hoping to make some new friends. Within an hour, I had about 12 strangers in my room playing Cards Against Humanity and laughing our butts off. This was my first favorite memory from college! So trust me, leaving your door open can lead to some pretty fun stuff.
3. Try to see where your classes are located before you start class.
This seems like a no-brainer, but on my first day of my first semester, I was late to every single class because I had no idea which building I was supposed to go to or where any of the classes were.
Seriously, just find where your classes are beforehand.
4. Answer all the questions on the first few days of classes.
My choir teacher gave us this advice all the time. He always told us that the easiest questions were asked during the first few classes. Answer all of those questions so that your professor will not only notice you, but they most likely will not call on you for the rest of the year, because you paid your dues by answering questions in the beginning of the semester.
This worked for me for three out of my five classes my first semester, so I’d say it’s pretty good advice.
5. Say “hello” to everyone you see one day.
It may feel strange at first, but when you do this, you have the chance to meet and potentially strike up a conversation with so many different people on your campus.
Now it was easy for me because I go to a small school, but if you go to a huge state school, maybe just say “hi” to all the people you pass going in and out of classes.
This may just be another way you meet another amazing friend!
6. Go out often and make memories.
Of course you need to study and do work for your classes, but don’t forget to have fun! My favorite memories from my first year of college didn’t take place in the classroom. They took place at driving ranges, mini golf courses, nature preserves, restaurants at ungodly hours in the morning, ice cream shops, up on bluffs overlooking the city, animal shelters…I could go on forever! But seriously, I can tell you that they didn’t take place in one of my math classes.
7. Stay healthy (I’m so serious about this one).
Listen, the freshman 15 is real. Being away from home means that you’re on your own for every meal. This does not mean that you should have macaroni and cheese, pizza or chicken nuggets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The best way to combat the freshman 15 is by eating right and to avoid drinking alcohol. I know, it’s college, but believe me, no one wants a beer belly by the age of 20, so be conscious of what you’re putting in your body.
Besides eating right, work out! I don’t care if this means going for runs, lifting in the gym, participating in an intramural sport or doing yoga classes, stay active. This is another sure way to avoid the freshman 15 and to keep those endorphins going!
8. Go to class.
I know what you’re thinking. “Seriously? This is such a dumb tip.” I’m not kidding, this isn’t high school anymore. In college, your professors don’t care if you show up or not. So while skipping your 8 a.m. to catch some extra Z’s, just remember, your professor won’t take any pity on you when it comes to grading. Long story short, just go to class.
9. Don’t overdo it.
What I mean is, don’t stretch yourself too thin. While there are so many fun things to do, you are only human. It’s pretty hard to be a full-time student, work a part-time job, be involved in 20 different clubs and still manage to pass your classes to the best of your ability. Pick a few organizations that you’re interested in and give those three clubs your full involvement instead of half-assing 20 clubs.
10. For the love of God, call your parents.
Just because you’re in college and away from home doesn’t mean that your parents magically vanished. They’re excited for you, of course, but remember, while you’re out having fun and being independent, they’re most likely missing you. Now I’m not saying you have to do what I did and call home every single day, but you should try to talk to them once a week. They want to hear (almost) everything that you’ve been doing while you’ve been on campus! Keep them up to date with classes, sports and clubs when you have the time. This will decrease the chances of them showing up on a Friday night and ruining any fun weekend plans because they were trying to check if you were alive or not.
Of course, there are thousands of more tips I could give you, but college is a learning experience. Go out, have fun, make memories, try hard and laugh often. You won't regret it.