So if you are reading this, chances are that you are entering your first year of college in the fall. Trust me when I say that more than likely your college experience is going to be a wild ride from start to finish. You’ll experience new things, meet new people, and learn quickly that college has a great deal to offer if only you are open to it. There are so many things that you can learn from tours and guide books, but few if any will fully prepare you for the true college experience. I have compiled here a list of things I wish I knew before plunging myself head first into the collegiate experience. I hope that my wisdom will help you on your way and save you from the potential hazards of higher education.
1. MAKE FRIENDS WITH UPPER CLASSMEN
The key to finding out crucial pieces of information about your classes, school, and the local area is making friends with people who have been around for a little while. Upper classmen know the ins and outs; what classes to avoid, places to get great food, and the best kept secrets of your campus. You don’t want to be like me and learn during your junior year about things that would have come in handy much sooner. Utilize the knowledge of others.
2. MEET AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE IN YOUR FIRST WEEK
The great thing about the first week is that everyone is new and unsure of things, which makes it far easier to start up conversations with any and every one. You don’t have to attach yourself to any particular person or group, but keep in mind that half of college is networking and expanding your horizons. Get out there and meet as many people as possible. It can only help you in the long run.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR CLASS REQUIREMENTS
The best way to approach your college requirements is to fully understand each one. At my school we had university, college, and major requirements which were quite extensive. By understanding them, you can plan better, make sure you graduate on time, and avoid the mistake of taking two classes for one requirement (like I did). It also helps if you plan on double majoring. For instance, at some schools certain requirements for a secondary major are waved because of the requirements for the primary major. Knowing this eliminates taking classes that you don’t need to take.
4. PLAN YOUR LAUNDRY TIME CAREFULLY
One of the most annoying things in college is to walk down several flights of stairs with a basket of laundry and find all of the washers and dryers in use. Pick a day during the week when you don’t have class and most others in your building do and stick to that day and time every single week. Don’t even bother trying to do your laundry on the weekends unless it’s early enough in the morning when people are still sleeping off the previous night’s festivities.
5. BEWARE OF THE FRESHMAN 15
Some people are skeptical of the idea that freshmen gain weight immediately upon entering college. I actually lost a ton of weight my freshman year (because I was already large), but witnessed those around me packing it on left and right. It all comes down to diet, exercise, and avoiding the severely tempting foods in the dining commons. Stay active and develop healthy eating habits.
6. ESTABLISH RULES WITH YOUR ROOMMATE
Be prepared for the possibility that you and your roommate won’t be best friends. Not everyone develops that kind of relationship from living in such close quarters. What you can do to keep things on a pleasant level is to develop roommate rules immediately and stick to them. It will make for an easier year for both of you.
7. GET INVOLVED
College is all about putting yourself out there and experiencing new things. There are opportunities around every corner. Get involved; you’ll meet people, learn new things, and maybe find a passion that you previously had no knowledge of.
8. WHEN CHOOSING YOUR HOUSING FIND A MIDDLE GROUND
Keep in mind when choosing an area that just because it’s a party area that does not mean you want to live there. If you live in a quiet area you can get away from the parties when you want to; if you live in the party area you’ll never escape it. Choose a middle ground if possible. That’s what I did and it worked out well for me.
9. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
One of the best pieces of advice that I could give you is to keep an open mind about any and everything. College is one big learning experience from start to finish; the only way you are going to learn is if you open your mind. Chances are that you’ll have an amazing time if you do.
10.KEEP THE SKIPPED CLASSES TO A MINIMUM
It’s easy to get carried away and skip classes either because they are boring, unnecessary, you’re simply too lazy to go, or you think you have better things to do. No matter the reason, keep in mind that you or your parents are paying for this experience. You’re being given the opportunity to change your worldview and to squander that is a mistake. Take it from me, someone who skipped over 400 classes in four years; you will wake up one day and wonder what the hell you were thinking at the time. Cherish your time there. It won’t last forever.
I hope this has been helpful and stay tuned for the next installment.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry
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