The Definitive Freshman Year Survival Guide (20 Tips You NEED To Know)
Move-in day is fast approaching and every day you future freshman are one step closer to officially being college students. This means you are also one step closer to beginning the best four (and possibly more) years of your life! Some of you are nervous for what’s to come and others cannot wait to get out of the house. If you were anything like me, you probably have already packed and re-packed a multitude of times. Take it from a seasoned individual, no matter what you’re feeling at this point in the summer, you are going to LOVE college.
If the above meme isn’t ringing a bell, then you need to make your way to YouTube and check out the musical genius that is “I Love College.” Always a party favorite.
Back to move-in date! So, whether you’re dying to get into the dorms or hanging onto the last rays of summer, you all can benefit from a few tips to help you survive your freshman year. This is your FRESHMAN YEAR SURVIVAL GUIDE… use it well and you might make it through your freshman year with good grades, good memories, and probably a few not so good memories (i.e., Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning hangovers and other days if you’re really ambitious).
1. Try New ThingsFreshman year can be the most exciting time of your life. You’re thrust into this crazy social experience,surrounded by people you don’t know who are all as lost as you. You have complete freedom and few responsibilities outside getting good grades (yes, college is about more than just partying). While this guide will help you make a more seamless transition into college, there are going to be highs and lows…which is important and leads us to our first tip and possibly your college-life mantra: TRY NEW THINGS.
This is the only time in your life you will be free of responsibility with so many untapped possibilities and experiences. Take advantage of what’s around you because you might surprise yourself. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally speak to. I guarantee you’re going to meet amazing people and closing yourself off or being exclusive is NOT the way to start your college career. These people will likely be some of your lifelong friends. Join an organization or club you’ve been always wanted to try but never have… or join something you’ve never thought participating in. You could could surprise yourself and find a new hobby or skill. Whatever you do, just do it (thanks Nike) with full effort and you will be amazed with the benefits.
2. Be Safe & SmartFollowing up on trying new things, keep in mind your instincts. You’re smart, you got into college. Now,use those brains when evaluating situations. Maybe the mystery drink from that mystery person you just met hands you at that party on Thursday night isn’t the best idea… so grab/pour your own. Just be safe and smart. If you have a test the next day, think about if going out is really the best idea. It won’t seem like it at the time, but there will always be another party. The party won’t miss you and a week later you won’t feel bad about missing it (you’re schedule is probably packed Thursday through Saturday anyway). And trust me, a hangover will not get you a better grade, so save it for the weekend.
If you have a bad feeling about something, it’s probably a bad idea. This doesn’t mean close yourself off from enjoying college, because college is about more than just classes and its about more than just partying. This collective experience will shape you and make you grow in a way unimaginable.
3. LEAVE YOUR DORMAs much fun as it is to stay in your cramped 10x10 room with your three other roommates, I guarantee there is more going on outside those walls. Get out of your dorm and meet new people and try new things… Hmm, this sounds familiar (1. Anyone?). It can be very tempting to hide in your room and procrastinate by watching Netflix but TRUST ME you will have more fun if you close the screen and open your door. "Netflix and chill" just isn't the same when you're by yourself. LOL
4. Get To Know Your FloormatesThis is VERY important and can make your living situation all the better for the year. Some of my best friends have been people I met on my floor freshman year of college. Why? You'll see them everyday so don't make it awkward by ignoring them. Furthermore, they'll be there for you when you need them... aka when you're drunk and lose your key and can't get into your room. It probably doesn't come as a surprise to know how much better your living situation will be when you get along with everyone around you. And when that happens, whether its the entire floor or just your side, it can make for an amazing dorm room experience.
5. Go Beyond CampusWhile we're talking about getting to know who and what's around you, I think it's necessary to iterate the importance of getting off campus and getting to know the city you're in. For some, you might have grown up where you're going to college. But you've never experienced it with complete freedom. For others, your city might basically just be your college. And for others, you might be in an amazing place that has a ton to offer! Get out of the bubble and explore!
6. GO TO CLASSYou're going to think you handle missing a few classes. And, hey, maybe you can dip out of that huge lecture a few times and your professor will definitely have no idea... but you're there just as much for school as for other things. And, you've probably heard this before, once you fall behind its hard to catch up. Multiply this by 100 once you're in college. YOU CAN'T HANDLE IT (only few can) and if you try your life/finals week will be hell. So make it easy on yourself and go to class.
7. Take Classes That Interest YouLook, some people are going to know EXACTLY what they want to do when they get to college. That's great, but that isn't realistic for every student. If you have a wide range of interests and don't have a set idea on what major you want, take classes that interest you and could help you on you way to figuring out what major/career path suits you.
8. Don't Register for Morning ClassesJust don't do it. If the hour is a single digit, get out!
9. Find A Good Study SpaceTHIS. Whether your going to the library everyday like you should... most of you won't, or just when it's midterms and finals, you need a good study space. Find what works for you and if its in a secluded/secret location keep it that way. Good study spaces blow up when people find out about them!
10. Befriend Your ProfessorsThis is obvious. They're your professors and they're their to teach you. They can offer ample knowledge and getting to know them will help you in the present and down the road. Often times first year students do not take advantage of this advice. But, if you begin to build the relationship early on you give it time to grow so its there when you need advice or recommendations.
11. Registering For Classes is Just As Stressful As FinalsIt may be easy the first semester of college but just wait... you need to have a plan and be ready with backups. Class registration is essentially war.
12. Set Rules With Your RoommatesIt seems annoying and its probably the last thing you want to be doing when you first get to school, but chances are your RA will have you and your roommates sign a contract. This usually outlines the rules of the room and can get VERY specific. This is very necessary. Because, like it not, there will be something you and your roommate(s) will disagree on and it will be nice to look back on the rules you set in the beginning. If you don't create a room constitution then you better be ready to speak up when something isn't right. Hey, it's your room too! Or, you might end up with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster above your bed and NOT by choice (true story).
13. Welcome Week FriendsThe people one meets the first week of college seem like they will last the test of time. You think you're best friends and with the veil of excitement and adrenaline you will not reconcile with reality that, most likely, these friendships won't last. By next week, you will have met hundreds of new people and find ones who you vibe with way more. Prepare yourself to see your welcome week friends all the time across campus because that's just how life works. Don't sweat it, the same thing happened to them. Smile, wave, and go on with your day. Now, if one of them has a car... maybe keep them around?
14. Coffee Will Save Your Life... For A WhileThe buzz of coffee will not last so try to get some sleep when you have something important to do or study for the next day. Your body and mind will thank you!
15. Final Words on College LifeWe'll call this our college mantra, "Be yourself and find a balance." We've talked a lot about partying and school and both are important, yes both! Whether you're drinking or not, it's important to get out there and engage in the greatest social experience of your life. But don't forget why you're there, school! So work hard and play hard. You might not find the perfect balance right away, but give it a semester or two and you'll be on your way... oh, and don't go home too much. College is a time for personal growth and leaving every weekend to enjoy a home cooked meal, regardless of how amazing it is, will hold you back.
Sidenote: No matter how bad you want to, don't wear your school id and lanyard around your neck. It's a big indicator that...
What we've covered so far will help you maneuver the excitingly tricky road ahead. That road, however, has already started and we have a few more tips to get you on the right track before you actually arrive on campus.
16. The Freshman 15 Is Real... Start An Active Lifestyle NowCollege is really fun. It's also really hard on your body. You'll be eating bad food, drinking, and running on less sleep than you thought possible all while being stressed at the same time. It's important to be kind to your body. So, exercise, walk, run, do something... also a great stress reliever in college.
17. Be Realistic About Your RelationshipsCollege doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to your high school friends or relationships, but grasping onto them when you leave for school will prevent you from forming new, lasting, friendships. Don't promise to talk to your friends everyday while at college. Sure, keep your group chat going but keep the hour long Skype sessions to a minimum. You can see them when you're home for break and then you divulge all your crazy stories. This goes for romantic relationships too. You need to really evaluate if making your relationship long distance is the best option for you. It definitely could be! But dating freshman year of college, especially someone who goes to a different college across the country, is a BIG decision.
18. Enjoy the Food NOWWe talked about not going home too much. It's going to be tempting, especially will all the culinary delights of home. So, enjoy the food now. The food on your meal plan could be amazing or... not.
19. Don't Buy Useless JunkLook, we get it! You're excited about classes and college but you don't need that 50-piece dorm room/school supply set. Your room is packed full with all your belongings already. All you need for class is your laptop, one pen, and one notebook. I've gotten through entire semesters on a single mechanical pencil and I did just fine!
20. Do NOT Be That Kid on Your Class Facebook PageFinally, and most importantly, do not be that kid. You're probably already a part of the group and every five seconds are getting a notification from someone posting. It looks like everyone is making friends and getting along. Some people are searching and finding roommates. Others are just randomly listing off their interests in hope of finding another who they hang out with... and then, there's THAT kid. He/she posts ALL the time and says the most outrageous things. They've probably reached out to you, and everyone else, personally. Trolling your class, even though its often not a joke, is not a good idea. Everyone recognizes that person and that reputation never goes away. Keep the FB posts to a minimum and realize that none of these people actually know each other. There is plenty of time to meet everyone for real when you get to school! Although, these pages can be a great resource when used correctly.
That's all from us. Now you're ready to brave the storm that is college... and survive.
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