As various colleges’ and universities’ move-in days and Welcome Weekends approach, I feel like it’s a good time to put this post up. I mean, I’m a week out from my move-in at KSU, and I still haven’t packed. (I wrote this instead.) It’s really a miracle that I’m not. Those who know me know that I am packed for a trip at least a month in advance because if I just “throw some stuff in a bag” I forget my toothbrush and/or underwear, it’s really great.
Something I’ve wanted to do on my blog since I started college was an “advice” post. Being a college freshman myself gave me no reason/right to, obviously but now that I am a sophomore and I know everything, I thought it’d be fun. This is just what I’ve gathered from my own first year experience, and obviously it’s not going to apply to everyone.
I will sit here and tell you all day long that whoever came up with “High school is the best four years of your life” probably a) never went to college, and b) never went to college. If you look back at my posts from the past year, you’ll lose count of how many times I say I love it. College is where you meet your BFFLs, watch too much Netflix, live on Ramen (and then never eat it again)… College will be the best four years of your life. It’s not always pretty, not always easy. But it’s worth it.
Spend time outside with your friends while it’s nice out because you will regret it in the winter when it’s 20 below.
If you’re living on campus, in a res hall, do yourself a favor and make friends both in your hall and outside your hall. Living with the same people for a year, love them or otherwise, starts to get old by the end of the semester. Going home for a weekend also helps.
Once you make friends in your res hall, actually do stuff with them. (Leave your door open and this is much easier than you think.) Euchre tourneys, laser tag, Cedar Point, midnight manhunt games, and movie marathons are just a few of the things that regularly happened where I lived last year. I’ll leave out StoBros on mercy rule. ;) #bestfans
Also, commuters make great friends too! A lot of my friends outside my res hall were commuters. Who knows, maybe you can trade a trip to Walmart for a meal-plan lunch.
Seriously, just study. But don’t study so much your hair falls out and suddenly you need glasses for long distance reading. Start strong freshman year because it only gets harder.
Talk to your professors, especially ones for 500-student lecture classes and ones in your major department. They have office hours and email addresses for a reason. Plus, it’s how I got my two research assistant jobs. Connections are the most important thing you can do for yourself as an undergrad.
Sitting in the front of 500-student lecture classes sounds like the worst idea: you have to get there early, actually pay attention, blah blah blah. NO. It’s a great idea because then your professor interacts with you and is more likely to give you an extension on the paper/extra credit you forgot because they know your name and your face. Not saying they will for sure, but it’s a strong maybe. I fell asleep once in a class like this, but only because KIC went really late the night before and I had an exam in my first class that day. Really it’s not that bad, my prof teased me a little in her lecture.
Comfortable shoes and a bubble umbrella are necessary on a big, windy campus.
Cross your fingers you get lucky with your college advisor. A great advisor will make the next four years go by flawlessly. If you don’t jive with your advisor, schedule an appointment with a new one until you find a match. Not kidding, I email my advisor just to say hi sometimes. (He also loves Lana del Ray and Panera, so that’s a plus.) Sometimes, you’re going to have more than one advisor, and most of the time you can’t change any advisor but your college one. I have 4 – college, honors, and two faculty. I got lucky with all of them.
Sleep is still a thing that you should do regularly. Burnout is killer. And you will get burned out sometimes, no matter how much you sleep.
Learn to like coffee if you don’t already. It’s better for you than Redbull, 5-hour Energy, Monster, etc, and still has that caffeine boost you need to get through finals week. Plus it tastes better and doesn’t make you feel like you’re having a heart attack.
Call your mom. She loves you.
Please don’t puke in the elevator because the rest of your res hall will talk about you for the rest of their lives.
Take the stairs when you can because you’ll say you’re going to use the gym on campus, but you won’t.
YOU CANNOT LIVE ON CHICKEN FINGERS AND FRENCH FRIES. They are easy and delicious (especially at 2 in the morning) but an all grease diet isn’t what you need, especially if you aren’t going to use the gym or take the stairs.
Buy/rent used textbooks on Amazon and do NOT give your college/university any more money than you have to. And also, resell them? I was talking to a lady at the Post Office (while I was getting an old book ready for shipping), she told me she was over 40 and still had her college textbooks in her house. Like WHAT you are sitting on at least $200-$300 resale, depending on the book/condition/demand.
Get involved and/or get a job. This one is so worn out but I didn’t do anything during fall semester and I honestly regret it. I met so many great people through Kent Interhall Council, my mentoring program, my lab… Wish I had done it sooner. Whether it’s going Greek, getting into student government, activist groups on campus, club/varsity sports, or starting your own group, find something that isn’t just going to class. It’ll help you blow off steam after a rough exam. As for the job part, when I was accepted to the Honors College I didn’t know if I would have time to work a part-time job. Turns out being in the HC isn’t that difficult. If you’re still unsure, take a semester to adjust and apply for a university job in the spring.
Boys are still stupid.
Hang pictures in your room. If you’re living on campus, put up pics of your family and friends from home. The walls in res hall rooms are white. Badly painted, patchy white. Pictures help when you’re homesick. And if you’re living at home, put up pics of your college life, that way you don’t feel so disconnected.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a good idea. Walls are thin and all.
It’s okay to not put as much effort into the classes that “don’t matter.” I did it. Everyone does it. But you still need to pass those classes and you still need to keep your GPA in mind. Most grad schools accept a 3 or a 3.25, but the grad students and professors and advisors I’ve talked you guarantee your app won’t get looked at if it’s not a 3.5 or higher if they put your app next to a comparable applicant (in terms of experience, rec letters, etc.) *I don’t know much about other majors, but this is what I’ve been told is the norm for psych.
Do not wear that lanyard around your neck.
You will most likely have several breakdowns after asking yourself, “What am I going to do with my life?!” That’s okay. Some people just know what they want to do. Most don’t. I mean, just because I declared psychology as my major before I started, doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. I had a sociology professor my first semester who changed her major from biology to sociology in her last semester, and she still managed to get it done.
You will get sick if you live in a res hall. It’s inevitable, you’re all crammed into tiny spaces, spend most of your time together… the first domino falls and the next thing you know you have Stopher Plague running a muck. (But then again, I had pink eye for three weeks, and no one else got it, so I guess if Patient 0 takes care of the problem promptly you won’t have an issue.)
Bring at least one professional-looking outfit. You really never know when you’ll have to do an interview. A nice dress, dressy flats or low heels, shirt, tie, slacks, black socks, whatever you want. Just at least one full outfit.
All right, hopefully you stuck with all my word-vomit. I think I’ve covered everything I learned as a college freshman.
I hope this was at least moderately entertaining for upperclassmen readers and not too scary for incoming freshman readers. If I scared you, I apologize, it’s really not that bad. You’ll love it. Wherever you happen to go, you’ll love it. Except Akron. You’re not gonna love Akron. Flashes forever.
Best of luck for the year, everyone.