Hey there! So today I wanted to put together a list of things that I wish I knew as a college freshman. My younger brother will be a freshman this year so I originally wrote this for him, but figured I’d share it with all of you while I was at it. Hopefully it’s helpful!
- Buy a planner! Typically most colleges will give you a free one to use, but usually these are somewhat dinky and not the best quality. Starting out I used a planner for the first couple weeks of school, and then gave up on it and tried to use the calendar in my phone instead. This works for some people, but I am not one of those people! Physically writing things down helps me remember what I need to get done better, I swear. If you want to get extra fancy (or OCD, depending on how you look at it) you can color code your planner. This may seem a little extreme, but it is very helpful! I have a different colored pen for each of my classes, and this extra visual has been a lifesaver for me.
- When it comes to packing and buying things for your dorm, less is more! Since I am notoriously known for over packing, I know that coming from me this is a bit ironic. When I started out my freshman year, I had this idea that I was moving to a deserted island where there were no stores and no resources. Obviously this wasn’t true, and realistically anything that you forget or end up needing can be bought at a nearby store. In addition, I had the mentality that I needed every single thing mentioned on those “Packing for college” checklists. I’m talking bed bug mattress covers, multiple sets of shower shoes, etc. These lists provide a great outline of the basics, but you really don’t need every single thing that’s mentioned.
- Make friends in your dorm! This is especially important if you go to a school where there’s not a Greek system, or when you’re choosing not to participate in it. Yes you spend a lot of time outside of your dorm (at class, friend’s places, parties, work, etc.) you’ll still end up spending a lot of time in your room! This is your new home for the next nine months, and you’ll be seeing your neighbors and floor mates a lot. Even if you don’t like everyone, try and reach out and at least get along with them. My 3 best friends from freshman year all were my neighbors in my dorm, and being in such a close proximity with so many people is a really good opportunity to make some close friends!
- Go to class! This might seem like an obvious one, but you would be surprised with how many people rarely step foot into their classrooms. Since I’ve been a both a small, private university and a large, public one, I’ve seen both ends of this spectrum. I’ve always been one to go to class because I learn more from it than I ever could from the readings. In addition, if I’m going to miss a class I want to make it worth it (which usually ends up being going home for a visit). Also, as much as it sucks you will get sick at some point! If you’ve missed a bunch of classes sleeping in or because you just don’t feel like going, when these other things come up it’s easier to justify not going. On top of that, once you fall into the trap of skipping class frequently, it is a hard habit to break!
- Find a good study spot: Freshman year I was under the impression that my dorm would be a perfect study spot. I mean I had a desk, and that was all I really needed, right? Wrong! It is so easy to get distracted while studying, at all, but especially in your dorm. Not only is your roommate there, but your friends and neighbors are also likely to be drop in unexpectedly. If you can find a good study spot on campus and go there when you really need to get stuff done, it will make a huge difference. I didn’t really figure this one out until after my freshman year, but since I have it’s changed my study game. When I really need to get stuff done I designate a few hours to study in said spot, and try to crank out the work while I’m there!
Stay tuned for part 2!