Time for the future leaders of America to begin their prescribed path along higher education to their dream careers and relationships. After graduating from high school and enjoying their first summer, in which they did not have to read a book for their upcoming English class and countless trips to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and other stores advertising their college specials, soon-to-be-college freshman have been listening to a plethora of tips on how to have a successful first year. From the horny uncle who suggests to have as much “fun” as they can to the overzealous parent who has mapped out their academic classes for the next four years (or more including graduate/medical/law school), these incoming freshmen have heard all kinds of advice.
Well, here is some advice from me (in no particular order):
- Don’t be the first one to be ems’ed during the freshman orientation parties. Slow down on the drinking, young grasshopper. Yes, you can celebrate your recent freedom from the tyrannical rule of your parents’ home, but no one likes a sloppy drunk; learn your limits…slowly (sidenote: avoid any drink from large vats or tubs or containing the words, “jungle,” “oil,” or “juice.” Oh and avoid mixing light and dark at all costs…your liver will thank you.)
- Do not sexile your roommate too soon (i.e. within the first month). That experience will put an unnecessary strain on an already tenuous and still developing relationship.
- Freshman fifteen (i.e. gaining fifteen pounds during freshman year) is a myth…as along as you stay away from heavy binge drinking and late night eating.
- Don’t buy all the books on the syllabus until you have talked with others who have previously taken the class, scoured the internet for the cheapest price, or formed a study group with other classmates centered on sharing materials. Trust me, you do not want to pay $115 for a book, only to be offered $4.25 when you try to sell it back to the bookstore at the end of the semester (hint: since most classes are not offered each semester, hold onto the book and sell it a freshman next year)
- Stay away from the bottom self in the liquor store. Those cheap vodkas (if it smells like rubbing alcohol, avoid) that cost $8.99 for a handle will only result in severe headaches, awkward conversations about the previous night, and regrettable decisions.
- Learn the dining room hours because you do not want to waste those food credits…even if you aren’t hungry, use your credit and stockpile your mini fridge (or let your homie/homegirl, who somehow has used their semester worth of credits in three weeks and thus are forever starving, borrow yours).
- Have an open mind and try different things: take a class, outside of your major, that interests you (sidenote: you may end up changing your major a couple times…and there’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, most people get jobs outside of their collegiate degree), join an extra-curricular club that highlights (or begins) a passion or interest (let your love for anime, for example, be welcomed and celebrated by other anime lovers), give people a try (yes all the dudes in high school who wore fitting, pink polos with popped collars were pricks, but this one in college may be different…you’ll never know unless you try…same for those Ugg wearers).
- College is not high school…it’s way more fun because of the independence and resulting responsibilities. Thus, stay away from constantly checking in on your old high school friends. Caring about who hooked up at the homecoming party is lame because you are taking time away from enjoying your present situation at college. No one wants to be friends with the person constantly on their phone, checking up on their still-in-high-school friends.
- This should have been number one: time management! You may believe that you are a procrastinating perfectionist that works best under pressure, but you’re not, boo boo. Don’t do it to yourself and get yourself stuck under Herculean deadlines that could cause the Rock of Gibraltar to crack. As a result of your various meltdowns caused by your lack of time management, you can look forward to meeting regularly with psych services and/or academic deans (sidenote: use all the resources that are made available to you from writing centers to deans to health/psych services) (sidenote 2: you do not want to miss around with your classes because being placed on academic probation can lead to forfeiture of scholarships and/or work study or mandatory time away from school…both self-esteem shattering).
- Ask questions: of your classmates, your professors, your institution, your friends, your family, and most importantly of yourself. You will not be the same person after college, and you should be aware and in tune with your development and growth.
I am sure I forgot something. Please leave your advice in the comments section.