A college campus can feel like a foreign country to a new student. There are new rules, new people, and new customs to learn.
Don’t assume your roommate will be your best friend.
While it sounds amazing to live with your best friend, sharing a space as small as a dorm room can test even the strongest of friendships. Focus on strengthening the roommate bond first, and if friendship follows, then it's just an added bonus.
...Or that your floor crush will be your boyfriend.
Every floor has a hot guy or at least someone who is decently attractive. Every time you walk past his room you'll swoon, but if you want to do anything more than harmlessly flirt, proceed with caution. If your relationship doesn't last forever, or at least the rest of the year, you'll instead feel cringe instead of butterflies.
...Or that the people you meet the first two weeks will be with you for the next four years.
Chances are, they won't be. College is a big place, and you don't stop meeting people after you first arrive. It may seem like you've found your best friends already, but often times the first people you meet are friends of convenience, not long-term companions.
Always look before crossing the street, even if you have the right away. Drivers on campus don’t care about your safety.
Every college has a parking problem. To find a spot and make it to class, drivers have to compete Fury Road style to find a spot. The pedestrians in their ways are irrelevant. Even if you have the right away, make sure there's not someone trying to take that right away. Look both ways and stay off of your phone.
Professors want you to learn, and are pushing you for a reason. They don’t hate you.
Long story short, college is hard. These classes are on an entirely different level than those in high school. You are preparing to become a professional, and the skill and expertise required to be a competent employee can't be achieved by slacking off. Professors realize that and are going to hold you to your responsibility to learn. They aren't trying to be mean, they just want to help you.
Go to office hours.
Office hours are there for your benefit. They are a rare opportunity to have one on one time with your professor, get feedback on your work and to ask any questions. While it might seem intimidating to have such a personal conversation, your instructors want to help you learn and to be as successful in their course.
Experiment and try new things. College is about discovering what you like (and what you don’t like).
Talk to everyone and join any club that interests you. At university, you will come across groups you never realized existed. Allow yourself to figure out what you want and grow into the individual you've always dreamed of being. You'll figure out who you are and who you want to be. If you try something that's not for you, find the positive lesson in it; at least now you know a little more about yourself.
It’s OK to go out and have fun.
Your young adult years are a time to explore and to have fun. With no parents around, at college, you can try things you may never have been able to in high school. Try that drink, or go talk to the cute boy, and go out and have fun. You're only young once, so enjoy it.
It’s also OK to stay in.
Not everyone is a party animal, and even the wildest partier needs a night off every once in a while. Don't feel obligated to go out every chance you get. You're at college to study, and grades are always more important than a night out. Also, not everything you do has to involve alcohol. Spending a night in with your best friends watching movies can be just as fun as a bar crawl, and its a lot easier on your liver.
Find a balance that fits best with your personality and needs, not your perception of what you’re supposed to do.
Everyone is different. Some people can get straight A's while simultaneously getting drunk every night. If that isn't you, don't beat yourself up. Experiment and find out the balance of work and play. You need to be as successful as possible.
It’s OK to fail a class, but don’t make a habit of it.
Many universities have a grade recovery program and allow you to retake a class. This act of forgiveness can save your GPA, but don't use it as an excuse to not work hard the first time around. That's just a waste of your time and money.
Learn from your mistakes.
You'll make them. In every part of your life you will do things you will regret. Don't let these missteps get you down, but allow yourself to learn from them and grow.
There are people out there who want to and will take advantage of you.
Some people want to do you harm, but there are steps you can take to lessen the risk. Be conscious of your surroundings, and never put yourself unnecessarily in harm's way. Be confident in what you want, stand by those beliefs, and don't let others coerce you to change your mind.
Never sit your drink down... ever.
Being drugged is a very real possibility at parties and in bars. Watch your drinks and never accept something from someone you don't trust. If you have to go to the bathroom, take your drink with you, even if it is kind of gross. Rape drugs taste salty, so if your drink seems a little off, trash it.
Don’t go anywhere alone.
The buddy system might seem silly, but it could save your life. There are people out there who will prey on young students, especially if those students are intoxicated. Protect yourself and your friends and go everywhere together.
Go to class, even if you don’t think you need to.
On top of most classes making attendance part of your grade, going to class unsurprisingly helps you to do better in them. Information not in the textbook comes exclusively from the professor's lectures, and missing it could significantly lower your score on exams. In case you do miss class, make a friend and get their number. Use them for missed notes and as a study partner.
Participate in as many activities as you can, especially the silly ones.
Playing icebreakers and going to hall meetings might sound stupid and unnecessary as college students, but they are done for you to get to know the people around you. Find the fun out of the activities, and realize they are just another opportunity to make memories.
Discover how you study best, and learn it quickly.
Some people like flashcards, others like reading and re-reading textbooks. Figuring out what works best for you enables you to get better grades, so it's best to find out early which method works best for you. Additionally, some classes require different types fo studying. For example, you wouldn't take on a math test in the same way you would English.
Your campus has thousands of unique personalities and stories. Learn from as many as you can.
At university, you will meet people who have upbringings and opportunities that are alien to your own. This might be your first time leaving your family and hometown, and life at college could be radically different than what you know. Those of other social classes, sexualities, genders, races, political beliefs and origins will share a classroom with you. Appreciate their unique outlooks on life and use them to develop your own.
Kiss every boy you want, or none at all, but do it because it’s what you want.
Just like one's drinking habits, your relationships and sexuality need to be explored. Don't allow preconceived ideas on what is proper or not stop you from doing what your heart wants. Slut shaming is a harmful action and irrelevant in the 21st century. Do what you want with who you want, because you want to.
Call your mom.
She will miss you ten times more than you miss her. Don't forget about your family while having the time of your life at college.
Join clubs, especially ones connected to your major.
Network, network, network. You never know who is going to give you your next internship or job offer. Clubs also help you to meet students with similar goals to yours, who can act as an ally and mentor you in the years to come.
Don’t worry about dressing up for classes, everyone else will be in sweats too.
No one cares if you look good. Embrace the casual college lifestyle and put on your favorite leggings and t-shirt. Focus on being comfortable over fashionable.
Drink water, especially before you start drinking alcohol.
Being hydrated helps your body and mind. It will clear your skin and help you focus. Buy a nice water bottle and keep it with you. Drinking enough water every day will improve your life.
Eat protein before drinking, too.
Protein keeps you satisfied and full longer and it also helps your body digest alcohol. Eating a big burger before a night out could help prevent some of the nasty side effects of drinking.
Don’t worry about finding the love of your life, but don’t be afraid of commitment either.
Relationships in college are hard. It seems like half of everyone is committed to the hookup culture, while the other half is searching for their future spouse. Don't expect Mr. or Mrs. Right to come knocking on your door, but on the other hand don't automatically shy away from an amazing and loving opportunity.
Try to actually learn something in your classes.
Yes, they may seem boring, but you're taking them for a reason. Even the dullest lecture might have information vital to your future career. Don't just forget everything after each semester's final exams; chances are it will reappear in later classes.
Enjoy everything because it will go by fast.
College is four short years of amazing opportunities and memories. Soak up every second and use this once in a lifetime experience to become the best version of yourself.
And please, please don’t wear your lanyard. Put it in your book bag.
It marks you as the Ultimate Freshman. Just don't do it.
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