So, You're going to college
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So, You're going to college

Life is about to get crazy, my dude.

So, You're going to college
University of Iowa

Is graduation looming around the corner? For me, it snuck up on me way too fast. Being a first generation college student made things a lot scarier than they needed to be. My parents were a lot of help, no doubt, but it was a learning experience for all of us. You might feel the same. Here are some guidelines to making your freshmen year of college the best it can possibly be.

Make Friends

Chances are your high school bestie didn't attend the same college as you. So it's time to make new friends. I get that it can be hard, especially for us introverts, but it's time to move on. You're starting a new chapter in your life. It's an exciting thing, but it can be a major buzz kill not to have anyone to share your triumphs with.

Life will be so much more easy for you if you have someone that will be there for you. Whether it be someone to grab coffee with, study with, or have a night out with, having at least one friend will make this transition a lot easier.

Talk To Your Roommate Before Move-In Day

Some of you will have gotten lucky enough to room with someone you know. However, majority of you will be rooming with a complete stranger. Sorry to tell you, but you can't avoid the awkward tension. You'll have to get used to this person living in your personal space. Work out some rules with them before move-in. Who is bringing what appliance? What time is lights out? What temperature do you prefer to sleep in? Are you the type to stay out late, or stay in? Small things like that matter.

It's also nice to have a "default friend." Last year my roommate and I were by no means best friends. But she was my default friend. We did almost everything together in the first couple weeks of the semester. But as we made our own friends and did our own thing, we did less together. That doesn't mean we stopped talking all together. We would have deep talks, ask for advice, rant about drama, and other things like that.

Developing a simple relationship with your roommate before move-in day can make existing in the same space not as tense.


Decorate your dorm room. Tape up some posters. Throw some Christmas lights on the walls. Get a couple throw pillows. Brighten up the room with some color. The atmosphere of your living space will help keep your mental space more positive.

On-Campus jobs

You're going to want some spending money, whether it be for books or for fun. If your parents are like mine, they are willing to help out and loan you a 20 here and there. But you're an adult now. Making your own money is something to be proud of, and your mom can't buy everything for you.

Get Involved

You will have more free time on your hands than you think. There will be a student organization fair within the first month of the semester. You need to go. College is the time to try something new. Go out for a sport you've never tried, or get involved in the local newspaper. They have clubs for anything you could think of, and if they don't, make your own. There is a process you can go through to create your own student org. Reach out and get connected with the right people. Get connected with your campus.

The Bus System Is Your Friend

I promise you that you will not need a car. It will likely just sit in a lot that you have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for. Someone you know will have a car if it's absolutely necessary that you travel longer than the bus can take you. At the University of Iowa, there are three bus systems: the Iowa City transit, the Coralville transit, and the UofI CAMBUS system. Campus buses are free to everyone. It will take you everywhere on campus that you need to go. The city bus could cost anywhere from $1 to $5.

Walking or biking is also an option.

Figure Out Your Ideal Study Atmosphere

You will have more than enough locations to study in. If you're like me and can't focus in the comfort of your dorm room, try the lobby of your residence hall, or the library, or the local coffee shop. Figure out how quiet you need the room to be in order for you to concentrate. Is snacking while studying a benefit to you? Do you study better when working around others, or by yourself?

Fun Fact: Being around other people who are being productive while cause you to be more productive and less distracted.

Do Your Work

You're going to be paying a lot of money to be going to college. Make it worth it. Go to class. If you need a break, by all means, take the break. But that doesn't mean taking a break every week. You're going to regret it later if you find that you're having trouble on the final because you missed so much class. Failing the final means pretty much failing the class. If you fail the class, guess what? You don't get the credit. You just wasted a lot of money on a class you're going to have to retake.


Also, do your assignments. They are to help to practice and get familiar with the material to get ready for the exams. This isn't high school anymore. Professors aren't going to be up your butt telling you to get that assignment turned in like high school teachers were. Check the syllabus

Seek Balance

Class, work, activities, having a social life, and getting time for yourself is all possible. I promise. Time management is key. You're mentality is going to suffer if all you do is school work, and you're grades will suffer if all you do is go out. Take a couple hours every day to unwind for a bit. Nobody likes to be overloaded or way behind.

Be Careful

College can be a scary place. And while parties are fun, you need to take precautions. Alcohol poisoning is real. Roofies are real. Rape. Is. Real. This can happen to men and women alike. You're on a college campus, so if this does happen to you and you are too scared to report it, don't worry. They have seen tons like you and they are there to help.

Be You

This is a chance to start over with completely new people. Don't ruin that by pretending to be something you are not.

Stay Healthy

Lastly, stay healthy. You're going to feel like crap if you're not eating right. It's not hard to just go to the dining hall and eat your feelings, but you'll regret it when you gain the freshmen 15. If you find that you're gaining weight you don't want, find a workout buddy.

Mental health is so important. It's okay not to be okay. There are resources on your campus that can help you. Don't stay quiet. People care and are there to help.

Change Your Mind And Change It Again

It's completely okay to go into college with absolutely no idea of what you're planning on doing with your life.

That's what open majors are for. You have time to figure it out. Academic advisors are there to help you figure out what you'd like to do. And if you find out that you don't like what you decided to major in? Don't freak out too much. You can change your major. Yes, it can be a bit of a waste of money and classes. But wouldn't you rather change your major to a degree you actually like than to waste your time and money on one you don't?

This is a time of growth. A transition from childhood to adulthood. You aren't going to have yourself completely put together yet and that's okay.

College can be a scary thing. You are being thrown out into the world and that can be a scary thing. There are tons of resources you can check out to make this transition the best it can be.

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

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