I’m not usually a fan of “listicles” nor am I a college expert by any means, but here a few things I picked up that I really think would have been genuinely helpful to know before my freshman year. Here’s to you, college student, wherever you may be!
1. Learn to skim well. Be able to read quickly and understand the key points/themes.
2. Find one thing you love and get involved, but also be okay if you find a bunch of things you don’t really like. Explore and commit later.
3. That being said, go to lots of events. I didn’t go to as many as I wish I had, but the more you reach, the more college will embrace you. Make it a home.
4. Call your parents or text them often. Everyone says this. When I left for college, I was more than elated to leave my hometown and conflicts with family and start afresh. But homesickness hit me and I got a little embarrassed. No matter how much you fought with your parents or whoever took care of you, they’re familiar. Just be a decent person and update them. Chances are, they’re proud of you and want to tell you that.
5. Find a good place to just sit and be comfortable and think about life both now and how it used to be.
6. Find people who listen to the same music and watch the same TV shows and read the same things. Talk about it with them. Also find people who like different things than you and talk about it with them. This is a beautiful time to make friends with a diverse group of people.
7. Write notes to people you love. It’s nice to get mail and it’s good to give them little glimpses of your life.
8. Invest in a t-shirt from your college that you really love and are proud to wear.
9. Make a rainy day playlist. Also get shoes you can wear in the rain.
10. Invest in a warm jacket if there is any chance at all it will be cold. You’ll be grateful to snuggle in it during long walks across campus or waiting for the bus.
11. If your campus has a bus system, be patient as you learn it. Get to know the campus route first and then ask people who know what they’re doing for tips on where to get off. Get a bus app on your phone.
12. Don’t check your email all the time. If there’s important stuff going on, yeah, answer it. But if it’s not life-changing, delete it or read it later. Get yourself OFF of subscription lists for stuff you don’t need. Full inboxes are annoying.
13. Take breaks. Breathe.
14. Try to talk to TAs and professors and get to know them, but if you can’t because of time or class schedule conflicts (me), don’t stress.
15. Find a buddy in each of your classes to exchange notes/have each other’s backs.
16. Write down ideas/start assignments as soon as you get them. Even spending 10 minutes on it right away gets you ahead and gives you solid ideas to work with later if need be.
17. Befriend older students.
18. Don’t try to break in new shoes on campus.
19. Keep your living space neat, especially if you live in a tiny dorm like me. Even if organized chaos is your thing, it feels better to have room to move around and is courteous to your roommate/ good for your sanity.