Carmen is a student at Northwestern University studying communications, marketing…
From personal experience I know freshman year can be an interesting mix of intimidating and exciting. New people, new experiences, new stuff, it’s hard not to get swept up in it at all. But no matter if you are hundreds of miles away from home or close enough to visit on the weekends, there are a few college tips every freshman girl should know that will make this year the first of many great ones.
1. Organize your classes.
When it comes to classes pay attention to the syllabus! They are more important than you think. They tell you all the chapters you are supposed to have read and when all of your tests and quizzes are and when all of your projects are due. Highlight every important due date and always have the syllabus in a place you can easily find it and check often. You definitely don’t want big assignments to sneak up on you, once you start falling behind it’s hard to catch up.
Start homework that’s due mid-week, on the weekend. This way when things go horribly wrong, you will feel less stressed because you already did most of it. Make time to study (just study, HW gets it’s own time) every week. This way you will almost certainly do well in all your classes.
Make a list of easy classes you want to take and which professor you want to take them with. Know which classes you need to take for your major/minor and which ones to take for fun or curious. This handy dandy list will be incredibly useful when registering for new classes. You won’t have to scramble and end up with a random schedule. AND it’ll be easier to balance harder, work-heavy classes with the fun ones, everyone needs that one fun class to relieve stress and maintain sanity. They are also an opportunity to explore subjects that you’ve never been exposed to before.
2. Take more care of yourself.
Midday naps are your best friends. Naps are magical. Never underestimate the power of a nap. Take naps. Also, don’t get too lazy. It will get really tempting but don’t do it. Find out when the gym is open and if they hold classes for students, you could pick a time to go with friends at least once a week. Or you can join an intramural team, that works too.
3. Be more involved.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know what cool people or activities you’ll discover along the way. While I won’t recommend doing anything dangerous, I always advocate for spontaneous. Try rush. If it isn’t for you then whatever at least you make some friends and learn how to keep up regular conversation (an important life skill). If it is then you have a great new bunch of girls to chill with, have exclusive access to more events on campus, and be much more involved and interested in things going on at your school.
4. Don’t over commit.
Clubs are a trap, but I say that in the most loving way. Campus organizations are a great way to meet new people (especially upperclassmen) that have similar interests and get introduced to new opportunities (hello internships!). But with all of the amazing groups on every campus, overcommitting is very easy to do. The best plan is to sign up for a few interesting clubs, not a bunch. Maybe four if you’re feeling ambitious or you know the fourth club rarely meets.
Find the balance between work and study. Don’t put it off because you’ll get distracted and caught up with everything else going on campus and forget all about it. I know a lot of people think the best jobs are the ones that you do homework, but a job should be treated like a job. Find one that you will enjoy and can learn the most from. This could mean working in a research lab or even in your student center and could lead to opportunities in the future and… free food.
5. Regulate how often you go out.
The line between fond memories and torrid regrets is pretty thin. Don’t feel pressured into going out if you don’t want to. Netflix is an equally formidable way to spend an evening. You don’t have to be one of those girls who goes crazy once they leave home if you don’t want to. On the other side, it doesn’t matter how hard you want to go as long as you find a balance between your sober nights and your not-so-sober ones. Spending everyday drunk or hungover is not conducive to completing schoolwork a.k.a the reason you pay tuition. I’d recommend starting slow then deciding how much party you can handle each week.
6. When going out, make sure you use the buddy system.
Maybe it sounds lame, but you need to know that at least one person is looking out for you in case you go too far. Plus, parties are always more fun with your friends. Decide whether you want a relationship, hookups, or friends with benefits and use that to determine how attached you get to people you like.
7. Bring a laptop with an HDMI cable.
This is perfect for watching movies in your dorm. Movie nights are a great way to spend Saturday nights with friends! Netflix and the internet on a big screen are an easy way to get to know people in your dorm. And a great way to have fun on a night in!
8. Keep in contact with your roommate.
Especially if either one of you has a man-friend. There is literally nothing more awkward than walking in on someone or being walked in on. Texts are great and don’t have to be complicated, a simple “Can I have the room for a bit?” will suffice.
Don’t sexiled your roommate too often, and don’t tolerate being sexiled too often either. Remember that two (or more) live in that space and they have the right to a night in their own bed. And while we are talking about this, be friendly to those who have been sexiled. One day the roles might be reversed and you may need a friend.
Also try to find a roommate with a similar sleep pattern. If you do late nights, make sure they do too. Tension tend to rise when one person can’t make noise after 9 p.m. when they usually stay up until 3.
9. Orientation is handy.
You will get tons of free stuff during the orientation period and the first few weeks of school from clubs and events. Take advantage of it! Some of that stuff may really come in handy when you least expect it.
10. Take advantage of meals
Don’t be afraid to sit by someone new in dining or lecture halls, especially during the first few months of school. You never know who you’ll meet. Also if you don’t feel like being around people during a meal or want to get some work done in the cafe, don’t be afraid to sit alone. I promise you will not look lonely.
Figure out exact what is included in your meal plan. There may be meals/equivalency points/another point system that can be used in campus stores or at on-campus vendors like Starbucks, which you don’t want to miss out on.
11. Enjoy yourself!
College is what you make of it. And while grades are obviously important, you should make sure you give yourself the opportunity to explore your interests and have some fun. Explore your local city. Go camping in a local park. Join your school’s Quidditch team. College is a great chance to spread your wings before entering the real world. So why not see how far they can go?
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Carmen is a student at Northwestern University studying communications, marketing and social psychology. She has been fond of writing ever since she learned how, and still refuses to stop using dashes to dot her i's. She is low-key obsessed with sunglasses, high-key obsessed with nail polish and always needs someone to pull her away from the jewelry section in stores. A dreamer, a writer and a hopeless romantic (or former athlete) she is constantly on a mission to make the most out of every day and still find time to binge watch a show or read a good book.