Before I left for college, I had some ideas of what to expect, based on movies I’d seen and stories from people I knew who were already in school. However, now that my first month of college is under my belt, I’ve definitely learned a few more things on my own.
1. Do the reading.
When I asked upperclassmen for advice before heading to college, this was usually what they told me, and it’s so true. Professors in college don’t assign busy-work. If there’s an assignment, there’s a reason. Even though reading can be extremely boring, it’s important to stay on top of your classes. Two of my professors assign reading, then solely focus on that reading in class.
2. It’s possible to do well in school AND have fun.
I’ve met people at college who think that just because they need to do well in school, they can’t go out and party. It took my friends and I a little while to get the hang of it, but it’s definitely possible. It’s all about managing your time and balancing your commitments. For example, if it’s beautiful outside, but you have a ton of reading to do, go read on the lawn. Now you can enjoy the weather, check the reading off your to-do list, and still have time to go to that frat party tonight. If you wake up the next day and forgot you never finished reading that last chapter – use a text-to-speech feature and have your computer read your eBooks while you get ready in the morning.
3. First impressions are not always accurate.
My roommate and I met a girl on the day we moved in and we were positive that she would be a great addition to our group of friends. Two days later, we liked her a little less. Now, we understand that she’s the type of person we need to stay away from. Those first few weeks, be weary. Everyone is putting their best feet forward, which is important to remember. People are only showing you what they want to show you, but their true colors will eventually shine through. This isn’t to say that you can’t make friends on the first day, but just be mindful that friendships will change, just like they did in high school.
4. Your professor can make or break the class.
I was so excited to take my Literary Studies class, but when I sat down on my first day, my feelings quickly changed. I realized that my professor was actually capable of making a subject I was passionate about, completely boring. On the other hand, one of the classes I was dreading is taught by an amazing woman who has really gotten to know my class. Though forming relationships with your professors is important, if you’re really having an issue with one, isolate them from your studies so you can focus on the actual work. If there’s a serious problem, talk to your school’s Academic Advising Center.
5. Be yourself.
Like I mentioned before, everyone is putting their best feet forward. While you should do the same, it’s important to remember to be yourself. If you’re living on campus, you’ll most likely be surrounded by people all the time. If you don’t act like yourself, you’ll never actually be yourself. Remember that you’re meeting an entirely new group of people. If something made you “uncool” in high school, you’ll probably find at least ten people with the same interests at college.
6. Make friends with the RAs.
Resident Advisors are there to make sure that everyone on your floor is safe and having good college experiences, but it can be very easy to just see them as buzzkills. Making friends with your RA, or at least being on good terms with them, will help you out if there’s ever an issue. My roommate and I live next to our RA, and whenever we’re too loud, she’ll tell us very politely that we should try to keep it down. She’s basically just one of our friends. Just remember that you shouldn’t get too close because things could get awkward if there’s actually a major issue.
7. Don’t rush into a relationship.
I was single my first week of college, but I quickly found a boy I really liked and was tempted to jump into a relationship right away. It ended up failing miserably, but after seeing what a rushed relationship can result in, I’m happy it did. I’m not saying that you should hook up with everyone on your floor, but definitely play the field a little bit.
8. Get an air mattress.
If your college allows guests to sleep over, an air mattress will come in handy for relatives and friends who come to visit. Keep an extra pillow and some sheets too. Air mattresses are also really helpful when one of your friends is too intoxicated to go back to their dorm or when a friend needs to sleep over because they’ve been sexiled.
9. It’s okay not to go out some nights.
You may be tempted to jump at every opportunity to party or go out, and you should, but you also need to realize that sometimes you just need to stay in. This is completely okay. In fact, staying in and getting your work done will probably leave you more time to go out in the long run. Just remember to balance it all out. If something amazing is happening on a night you know you’ll have a lot of work to do, plan to get your work done ahead of time.
10. Keep eating and drinking water.
It’s really difficult to remember to eat three square meals a day and to keep drinking water, when so much is happening all around you. But it is SO important to stay fueled and hydrated because food and water energize your body, allowing you to successfully and productively make it through the day. If you don’t like breakfast, keep some granola bars and Pop Tarts in your room to substitute. And always, always keep a water bottle with you.
Feature image source: http://admissions.vanderbilt.edu and elearningindustry.com
Kristen Bruck will is a student at Emerson College, majoring in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and minoring in Journalism. In her free time, she likes to read, write, dance, bake, and listen to a wide variety of music. She's very interested in fashion and loves children!