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Things Every Incoming College Freshman Should Know
1 - Nobody really cares who you were in high school. It's time to remake yourself.
Yeah, you may have been a starting varsity football player, a cheerleader, a chess club captain, or a master debater, but when you get to college, none of that really follows you. Even if you want it to, it won't.
When I arrived at my school, I was constantly bombarded with the same questions over and over again.
"Where are you from?"
"Where are you living?"
"What are you studying?"
"Are you going to do _____ later?"
Notice how none of those are focused on the past so much as they are about who you are now?Although you may have a lapse back into the glory days and mention a few of your pre-college activities for sake of having a conversation alone, nobody is all that interested. Also, people are generally much less judgmental in college and are open to forming all kinds of new relationships. If you're someone who has travelled a reasonable distance to reach your school, you'll be fairly raw as far as friend groups go. Just know that with so many other people out there looking to meet new people and recreate themselves, you have room to do the same!
So don't be afraid of whats behind you, and don't take too much pride in your accomplishments. You're on a new playing field, and it's the same one everyone else just entered. I spent so many evenings during my first few weeks of school (before courses demanded more of my time) with complete strangers who eventually became my best friends.
2 - Be Ready to Study Hard
Unlike in high school, where classes were, for the most part, a comical joke where you would sit there, rarely paying attention, never studying, and still getting decent grades, college is meant to actually push you. Not only will you have to pay attention in class and open your textbook here and there, but you'll have to do it more than you initially expect. In other words, the phrase 'you get out what you put in' never rang more true.
Do yourself a favor and avoid the first round of tests where everyone fails because they weren't broken in yet and study from day one (or a week or two before your exam).
To put things in perspective, the average grade in each of my non-core courses were C's except for my organic chemistry course (that average was a D) where half the students were forced to drop the class.
So realize that if you want to be some sort of academic achiever, you'll need to make school your #1 priority.
3 - You're in control. You Need to Be Self-Responsible
Sure, you always get the lecture from your parents and teachers that in college, you'll be on your own and you won't have your mother to do your laundry. Well, that's true, but to an even more extreme extent. I trust everybody to do their laundry occasionally and feed themselves on a somewhat acceptable basis, but I've noticed a few trip-ups that I should probably bring to your attention.
1) There are parties-- real ones. Whether or not you choose to attend them and drink or do whatever is up to you. But understand the consequences that accompany that decision. If you're a hardcore party-goer, then your community will figure that out. Depending on how you want people to view you, make your decisions carefully. And DO NOT PARTY ON SCHOOL NIGHTS.
2) You need to go to your classes and be awake in them. Again, this isn't high school. You actually have to pay attention and nitpick at the details your professor spews for the class period. That's when professors drop important clues as to what will be on the upcoming test that will seem impossible for those who didn't pay attention. Get plenty of sleep
3) Eat healthy. Your cafeteria is going to have some unhealthy food choices. Let's face it, the school is going to want to stock food people like to eat, so there will be plenty of pizza, soda, and sugary treats to go around. But be warned, for those unable to resist those items and instead partake in some veggies and other nutritional choices, the freshman 15 is very real. In fact, sometimes its the freshman 20, or even 30...
4 - You will meet most of your friends in your dorm, not your classes
Although I still say hi to a few people I had in several of my classes, I never closely associated with anyone that didn't live in my dorm or wasn't in a club I was in. Quite frankly, I think everyone, myself included, was simply to focused on the material to socialize all that much. Out of the 20 or so people I still interact with from college, the vast majority of them were people I met day one of my freshman year in my dorm.
However, if I was ever looking for new friends, it's not like I had to go very far. Everyone is friendlier in college.
5 - Get the right stuff for the job
Every incoming freshman probably spends countless hours pondering what they will be bringing to college and what they'll need to succeed, have fun, and live comfortably.
Here's what I can come up with.
- laptop computer
- casual clothes and clothes for inclement weather
- hangers for those clothes
- some sort of bedding
- laundry detergent & clothes hamper
- books for your classes
- basic hygiene supplies
- emergency spending money
- personal mattress pad (school provided ones aren't usually that great)
- microwave (I was tempted to make this a must-have)
- formal clothing
- TV (keep it small)
- something to do outside (soccer ball/ frisbee)
- car/bike with a bike lock
- extra food/coffee money
- extra lighting
- silverware and dishes
- camping gear
- A small safe (some colleges provide this already)
- luggage bags
- musical intrument
- fold-up chair
- small bookcase/drawer(emphasis on the small)
Things NEVER to bring:
- Highly valuable trinkets/ items
- large furniture
- things that make a ton of noise
- pets (some are okay. Like fish. Fish are okay. Noisy and smelly snapping turtles? No.)
- Anything you can't manageably bring back
6 - Relationships can be difficult
Everyone likes to play with the idea of having a significant other in college, but the truth is, it may not be something you want to do right away. Now there's not anything terribly wrong with being someone else, and I've seen the occasional couple manage it fairly well, but I know from experience that not only can focusing on school become difficult, experiencing the social aspect of college can be as well.
And nothing, I repeat, nothing is worse that having a bad break up with someone you live with. I would avoid starting something with someone that lives just down the hall from you if possible.
7 - You'll have plenty of time to have fun! Don't Worry!
All in all, college is a learning game, and it's meant to be a transition phase into the real world (and a fun one at that). I have to figure most of this stuff out on my own, and honestly, I think everything went pretty well! Keep track of your studies and make sure your priorities are sound, and I'm confidant you'll have an adventurous few years. Everyone does!
Hope I may have helped in some way, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section below!