TOP TIPS ALL COLLEGE FRESHMEN SHOULD KNOW!
AH, College. The Ultimate adulting destination. The odd space where you think you are finally an adult but in reality, you are being prepared for adulthood. These are about to be the best and worst 4 years of your life. Lucky for you, you have me to help. I went to college in 2008 and I was 16. All my friends thought I was 19 or 20 because on first contact, I realized I may just be one of the youngest people of campus so I lied.
I wanted to fit in so bad. I really did. I was the nerd who went to boarding school at 12 when the normal age was 15 so you can say, I was a little too smart for my own good. So here I was miles away from home. ON MY OWN for the first time in my life. I knew nobody on campus or even how to go back home even if I decided to. Yet somehow I had convinced myself that I was finally an adult.
Here is a video I made with my freshman sister:
Yes, college is all its cracked up to be. Annoying classes and professors. Parties. Organizations. Drama. Tiredness. Confusion. Fun. Hunger pangs. Low cash flow. Non-existent cash flow. Name it. It's all true.
Hopefully I can give you some tips. Learn from my mistakes.
- PACK ENOUGH: If you have to sleep in a dorm like I did, you are in for a shocker. But half of it will be eliminated if you know what to take to campus. Being self sufficient in college is a good start to your college life. Grab all your clothes, shoes and bags. Whatever fits, take it along. If you have 1 or 5 suitcases, good. Nothing hurts more than running out of clothes to wear. You are there to study. The least of your concern, at least in the first semester should be how you look. However, you want to represent yourself appropriately and be ready for whatever. Borrowing every thing including outfits, in my experience, earns you a reputation. You have things to do. A nickname whispered behind your back is not what you need. If you are from a low/middle income background as I was, you need to manage your items properly. Wear what you have and be comfortable. Pack all you'll deem as essentials and enough. You will be hungry and broke. It is also part of the experience. Make sure to have a little cash on hand at all times for emergencies and let can food be your friend. Yes, it is not the healthiest so balance it out with the food provided in the cafeteria. You are still growing and your body needs a lot of fuel to function. Pack adequately and manage yourself.
- WE ARE ALL CONFUSED: Every freshman is just as confused as you. Where are the classes? Where is the cafeteria? A test already? But we just got here! My tip for you is to seek out information asap. Look at the message boards, regularly. Log into your portal regularly. Sign up for alerts. And if you make friends easily, find a second year student to be your sort-of liaison. They just went through the process a year ago and can teach you so many things. Don't seal your mouth because you'll find yourself in a STAT 101 class when you meant to be in ACCT 101.
- WHAT IS YOUR NAME, AGAIN?: Making friends! The friends you make in college will be your friends for life. Not all of them. But it is important that you are friendly. Not overly friendly. Just enough. Starting with your roommate, if you have one. This deserves it own point so next point.
- ROOMMATES: Half of your college experience will be determined by the kind of roommate or roommates you have. If both of you are studying the same courses, then 100% of your college experiences will be shared with them. I can't begin to tell you how people get when you live with them but it is tough. Rarely will you find a person you already know, to be roommates with. If you are in Harvard, it may be Maliah Obama. How do you bond with them to make sure you understand each other? From day one, try to set some ground rules. Are you storing your food together? Are you going to classes at the same time? What time is lights out? Do you have any mutual friends? Break the ice, first before you ask these questions and be respectful of their boundaries. The number one reason for petty fights on campus are roommates disputes. Some are just pure evil. I'm talking about peeing-on-your-towel-evil. Some are followers so they just do what their leader says, which may include "donating" your items or just having random people sleep in your room when it has not been discussed. Your responses to these kind of situations will prep you for "adulting". If you feel the need to change roommates, do so. You have things to achieve. Stressing over another person's behavior is not one of them.
- PARTIES: There was a time in my second year in college where I was at a party, almost every weekend. Yes, I have lived. Fortunately for me, I don't drink. Never have. So take it from me, you do not want to be the drunken fool if you go to a campus party. Unfortunately for you, social media is so out there these days. Back then, it took an hour to upload a photo on Facebook so my friends and I, will go to an internet café to upload photos we took from the previous weekend. All those photos are since deleted. You do not want to be the one trending on World Star, the campus grapevine, Twitter or worse, the News. There is a video of me somewhere in the world dancing with my friend. Innocently. Our dresses, however were not innocent. It became a huge deal. So huge that a random man recognized me outside of campus. Very creepy. The internet does not forget. Your digital footprint is never erased. Drink responsibly. Always have people with you. Do not go alone. Have a designated driver or the number of a taxi service. Do not wander too far off campus if you are not familiar with the neighborhood or city. Lucky for you, you live in the age of UBER. And yes, this goes for boys too.
- CLASSES: No matter what you do, do not miss classes. Unless it's an emergency. If it is, be sure to contact your professor or have someone do it on your behalf. SHOWIN UP TO CLASS IS PART OF THE FINAL GRADE. You don't want to miss the wonderful arguments and debates. College professors have a lot of patience. Here you have a bunch of mostly teenagers telling you what they think is theory. Sometimes the students are right. Most at times, what you think you know, barely scratches the surface. Tuition is for studies so do just that. Learn, ask questions, be ready for class by reading the material and do not be shy. I understand that you may be anxious and scared but if everyone knew what everything was about, there'll be no schools or teachers. Pro tip: Rack up the A's early for the "easy courses". It gets difficult as you go up. It will be easier to get it early rather than play catch up. I believe in you.
- STUDY ABROAD/INTERNSHIPS: I never got the option to study abroad because my school did not offer it. We did however get unpaid internships in our last year and it did a lot for my subsequent professional life. In grad school, I did get the chance to register to study in Germany & France but I declined because of the cost. If I knew how good such things look on your resume, I would have braved it and went anyway. Grab these opportunities. Do not let them pass you by. They contribute a lot to finding out what you really want to do. Is your major the right one for you? Being in the internship space, will challenge you and that question will be answered. It is good to make these memories with your friends too. If you can afford to, just do it.
- CLIQUES/ORGANIZATIONS: I was not very interested in campus organizations because of how dramatic and distracting it gets. But I had a group of friends in my first year in college. Six of them actually. Out of that number, I was the only one to graduate with my year group and that took a lot to do. It was a bad influence. The positives were that I had a lot of fun. I had people who looked out for me when it suited them but I learnt a very important lesson. I do not need more than 2 friends in my life. And I keep both of them separate, at all times. Having frat brothers or line sisters or cliques or what have you is fun. But I know it is such a waste time, energy and money. Some people function better that way. Personally, I wanted the full experience AND graduate with honors. Very few people can effectively do this. My tip here is: Anything that requires a lot more time than your studies is not worth it. Let everything come second to your primary focus: TO STUDY.
Wow, Nana. You make this sound like boot camp.
That's because it is. The kind that works you out real good but you wake up the following morning and you can barley touch your toes.
It is the foundation for your life. Be diligent, cautious, open to share and learn. No better time to make your mistakes.
And please do not waste that tuition.