College Knowledge: 7 Things Every Incoming Freshman Should Know About Life on Campus

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freshman lessons

When Charles Dickens said “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he was talking about college.  College is one of those beautiful mystical places where you go in one person and come out another.  You’ll go through so many ups and downs during the four (or five) years you spend at your university that it will make your head spin.  The further I get in my college career, the more I want to hug every freshmen I see.

The more I want to snatch up every drunk freshman girl, dancing on a table who doesn’t know what her reputation will be like come morning. The more I want to lecture every freshmen boy on the cons of taking a girl home who you never plan on speaking to again (seriously there is no quicker way to turn a perfectly normal girl into a stalker. I’ve seen it happen.) The older I get the more I want to impart my knowledge, no matter how limited, on those coming in after me.

So here it is — my knowledge.  Use my tips at your own discretion.

1. Don’t be that girl- We all know who she is.  The girl who has had about five too many and insists that everyone within a two bar radius knows just how drunk she is.  She’s loud and obnoxious and even the 300 pound guy in the corner would have a tough time being happy about going home with her.  We all have our nights, but you definitely shouldn’t make being “that girl” a habit.  It’s not cute and it’s not funny.  You can tell if you’ve been that girl one too many times when people stop inviting you places and your friends duck and dodge you when they see you out.

2. Your major isn’t the end all be all- When we were freshmen, all of my friends would stress over their majors thinking that this one decision would shape their lives forever.  While your major does shape the classes you take and influence the field that you decide to go into, your major doesn’t determine who you are.  You can go all four years and graduate with one major only to decide a few months later that you hate that career and completely change courses.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  I’ve seen biology majors become artists and accountants become stay at home mothers.  Life takes you where it wants, despite your major.

3. Know your limit- Alcohol is a big part of college for some people.  If you don’t drink, cool, but if you do please know your limit.  Unless you have been recently dumped and are sitting on your couch watching Friends reruns, there is no reason for you to get sloppy drunk.  In college everyone is just realizing  that they are finally adults. No adult wants to take care of another grown person.  Drinking is fine, but when everything around you starts spinning, you probably shouldn’t be getting in line for the next round of shots.

4. You are going to get lost- I remember my first day of classes I went to the wrong room and instead of getting up and leaving with dignity, I sat through an hour and 15 minutes of O-Chem.  That’s 75 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.  You are going to get lost. It’s part of being a freshmen.  Embrace it.  No one expects you to know all of the bus routes and buildings on your first day.  If you’re nervous about getting lost, map out your classes a couple of days before and go to each one of them to feel your way around.

5. Dormcest is not your friend- Hooking up with people in the same dorm as you might be convenient but nine times out of ten just isn’t worth it.  Now, occasionally you will run across those two people in your building who hooked up and are now writing up rough drafts of the guest list for their wedding, but usually these hookups are fleeting.  And if the hookup goes south, they are probably the last person you are going to want to see on your 8am runs to the communal bathrooms.

6. Go to class- There is a reason you are paying thousands of dollars to be at your university. Go to class.  Seriously.  What else are you doing? Even if you aren’t actively paying attention, you learn a lot more just by sitting in the class and absorbing whatever the professor is talking about than you do laying in your bed all day.  Unless you are one of those kids who aces everything without ever stepping foot into the classroom on days other than exam days, then I’m sure your grades will appreciate your good attendance.  And if you are one of those kids, then I hate you.

7. Don’t take anything too seriously- Unless you are literally flunking out of school, everything can be fixed.  You can do extra credit, you can retake a class, you can study more the next time. We all get sad when we don’t do as well as we expected, but you can’t dwell on your failures.  Take it in, realize your mistakes, have a mini pity party, and do better next time.  That goes for grades as well as relationships.  If you’re not dying, things could always be worse.  Don’t tempt fate by always pitying yourself.

[Lead image via Boyarkina/Shutterstock]

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