Oh, to be a college freshman. I remember those days— both terrifying and full of opportunity. You’re either enjoying every minute, or dying for them to just end already. Don’t worry and don’t rush them, because they’ll go by faster than you realize. You’ll eventually graduate . . . and then wonder where to go with your life. But that’s another article, because, for now, you’ll just need some tips to survive what is (probably) your first year of parental independence.
- Don’t be a recluse.
Join clubs, leave your dorm room open for visitors, work as a volunteer—even getting a job on campus can get you some much-needed socialization (and you get money!). But don’t go home every weekend. Some people don’t have a choice, since they picked the college that brought them farthest from home anyways. Others live down the street and end up there every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and the occasional Tuesday night. That is not how you make connections; that is how you become a hermit.
- Don’t socialize too much.
Paradoxical, right? It’s great to go to parties and have fun on the weekends, but, when it comes down to it, you came to college to get an education. (Unless you didn’t, and then you might need to rethink your priorities on where you spend your or your parents’ money.) The only way you’ll get the full value of your studies is to actually study—crazy, right? So make sure to spend time on your homework.
I am the queen of all-nighters. My usual bedtime was two or three in the morning. Did this help me? No. I was prone to anxiety attacks, unable to mentally function, and sick in all manner of ways. Your sleep is magical, and it’s taken me two years to learn this. Caffeine is a supplement, not a substitute. Don’t make my mistake.
- Keep it clean.
I’m talking about your dorm room. If not for you, then for your roommate. Do your laundry and dishes, pick up your floor, and vacuum occasionally. The more often you do this, the easier it’ll be. You’ll be able to concentrate, you’ll actually like being in your room, and—get this—you won’t smell weird. Because people who don’t clean their rooms have a very peculiar scent, and it’s not one you want to have.
If you have a meal plan, use it. Don’t eat ramen for eight days straight. It’s not healthy, and you’ll feel terrible. No matter how cheap it is, there are better alternatives. Seriously consider getting that meal plan your first year of college. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have no idea how to take care of yourself your first year alone. Make sure you have a safety net.
- Keep a hobby.
Occasionally you’ll have some spare time. Use it for something productive, other than watching Netflix. (Not that Netflix isn’t magical, because it’s the computer version of Disney World.) Don’t lose yourself in work; keep doing what you love.
You probably care too much what your peers think. Make sure you don’t let your ego get in the way of your new life. Ask questions in class, make friends with upperclassmen, make friends with underclassmen, wear that weird outfit, and (prepare yourself for the most outdated, cliché, yet strangely helpful advice that is so often ignored) be yourself.
Being a freshman is weird. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s terrifying. Remember— everyone else in college has already been there. You can handle this; don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
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