Some of you have already started your freshman year of college, and kudos to you, and some are packing up and getting ready to go. Either way, you're going to be embarking on a whole new experience, meeting new people, and expanding your horizons. Unlike the cheesy brochure you've got pinned to your wall, here are some REAL tips on how to survive your freshman year.
1. Let go of the past
This isn't your high school and for many, not even the town or city you grew up in anymore. If you're holding on to how it was last year, and all your old friends, and your "status" as top dog at your old school...let it go. I hate to tell you this, but no one cares in college. There are very few of the thousands of students who will ever make an impression on the overall campus or even a large enough group of people for anyone to even notice. This is great if you are looking for a new start, but terrible if you can't seem to move past that part of your life to welcome a new one. Your freshman year really is the time to be yourself, whomever that is, because part of that no caring, is not having people intensely judge you by your past, or have everyone know your business, or care what you wear to class, or who you are or aren't going out with every single second.
2. Actually go to class
Yes, you'll have a ton of new things thrown at you, but for the majority of your college career, do remember why you're there. Sure it's all fun and games for a lot of people until they look around and all their friends are graduating and moving on, and they are still there. Just like in high school, all your classes count towards your overall GPA, and it might not seem like a thing your freshman year, but when you're a senior and you're wondering why you can't get into this/that graduate program, or wondering why you're not graduating with honors, or having to take some extra courses to boost your GPA (that cost MONEY!), you'll wish you'd have taken this to heart.
3. Actually go to some parties
It's called balance, my friends. All work and no play (well, you know the rest). This is quite literally the last time in your life that you will ever be this care free. No real job, no real world worries, no kids, no spouses, no mind numbing soul crushing responsibilities, so for goodness sakes, live a little. As long as you figure out how to have fun AND attend to your actual class work, you'll be fine.
4. Make some lifelong friends
Be social. It's hard sometimes not feeling like just a number in college, but that's why you've got to try and find your little bubble, you're little niche in between everything else. The good thing about college is that unlike your high school where friends seem to be set and that's it, you have a million opportunities in college to meet new people. Your roommates, their friends, your classmates, study buddies, people you meet lounging on campus, people in your clubs, people on the sports teams, people in organizations you care about. It's as simple as saying "hey you want to go get some lunch with me in the quad," or " are you guys going to the movie night thing on campus, we should check it out," or "we're playing some video games in our dorm later," whatever. Make the invites and take the invites.
5. Learn to be a hunter gatherer
Money is often illusive in college between tuition, rent, your car note, etc, so whenever you see "free" and "food," plan to be there. If there is a college event and they're giving out free stuff, take it, take extra. When you go home for the weekend or on break, stockpile anything that isn't nailed down. You'll learn to appreciate the words "they're a college student," because a lot of people know what it's like and might hand you some freebies to help you through.
6. Don't get 'Spring Broken'
Listen to me...if you didn't see your drink being made, if someone says they don't want to use protection, or someone's like, let's go spray paint your professors car, or if someone offers you some 'fun' brownies or something in a bag, or you're invited to a party in the middle of no where, DON'T DO IT!!! There are cameras everywhere watching as are other people with cell phones. Tell people where you're going, always use protection/take BC, don't go to parties and stuff alone or let friends go with people you've never met before if your Spider sense is tingling, and don't do stuff that's going to F up school property or breaks campus rules ESPECIALLY if you are on scholarship!!! You by no means 'have to be' a prude, but you can have fun and not get f'd or messed over in the process.
7. Abuse your student ID card
The next time in your life where you will be able to have a discount card this great, is when you're a senior citizen at 65 plus years old. Your student ID card it gold. A lot of places offer student discounts with your ID, so use them (movies, books, events, clubs, hotels, clothing, etc). Always ask too because some places do not necessarily advertise it out loud, but they do offer discounts.
8. Live on campus (at least once)
If you can afford it, and if you only do it one semester and you're done, live on campus. Make the dorms your temporary housing for however long. The convenience is everything especially if you have no transport. Definitely makes studying/socializing a lot easier and it also makes things a lot easier if you're doing work study on campus or found a job nearby. It's also the experience. It's so much easier to get involved in school and the social aspects if you're right in the thick of it 24/7. This can also be a great opportunity for you to break away from family for the first time, and experience adulting and being your own wo/man. Before you do go though, learn some basic skills like how to do laundry, how to handle your medical insurance, and how and when you need to pay your cell phone bills if you've never done this stuff for yourself before.
9. Whatever you do, do not sign up for morning classes!
As a freshman, counselors always try and screw you over by convincing you that you should sign up for morning classes. After all, you've been in high school taking morning classes for four years, so what's another semester?? Uh, they are trying so fill up these slots, not look out for your best interest. No one wants theses classes..for a reason....Nooooooooo....back away from that login/register button. Take morning classes if and only if you just LOVE mornings or you are working in the afternoon and have no choice, but otherwise, if it starts before 10, avoid, avoid, avoid. You won't understand it now, because you've never been in college before, but trust me...or don't....but if you do, you'll thank me later.
10. Workout...eat okay...or get fat
College is stressful. You are living alone often for the first time on a campus where all the food options are junk and mom and dad are not feeding you healthy food or telling you not to eat this or that. You are probably going to be up all hours of the night cramming, partying, studying, hanging out...and all of this will take a toll on you...if you let it. Get yourself a gym membership, walk to all your classes, try your best to avoid eating junk food all the time, schedule your workouts into your day, and you will not be sorry. There is a reason they call it the "Freshman" 15.
11. Don't be basic
If you're looking at the syllabus on the first day, and it says paper worth 40% of your grade, due by Nov 15th. Set a huge a-- reminder in your phone, write it on your calendar, tell your boss ahead of time, do what you have to to get organized and avoid being so basic that you fail an entire semester because you didn't remember the due date for a paper. This is NOT high school. When you don't turn stuff in, your teacher gets paid whether you pass or fail their class, so NO they don't "have to" extend the date for you, NO they don't "have to" give you extra credit," and NO they don't have to care whether your cat was sick and that was why you forgot. You are an adult now. You're responsible for your own education now.
12. Get HELP NOW!
This is the serious bit here. Just because you are a newly minted adult doesn't mean you know or have to know how to figure everything out. If you fall into financial trouble, if you're dealing with mental illness/depression, if you are failing classes, if you're just so incredibly homesick, can't even think straight...DO talk to someone. Most campuses have resources for mental/financial/educational help whether that be directly with campus services or they can refer you to someone who can help you. Don't let fear or embarrassment be the reason things keep getting worse for you. Ignoring such problems, is not going to make them magically get better or go away.