You did it! You’re going to college. Somehow, you survived those college apps, SATs/ACTs, and AP Exams. So you’re totally ready for college now! Right? Not so fast… There are still a bunch of simple, every day things that you probably don’t know how to do. Check out this list of 20 things you need to know before going to college, and maybe you will learn a thing or two!
1. Make a good first impression.
Be conscious of how you want others to perceive you. Try your best to maintain comfortable body language and a calmly paced voice. A general rule of thumb: everyone likes people that are warm and welcoming. Express your interest in others, and let them know you value their company and ideas.
2. Schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Most likely, your college requires you to have a physical (once a year) before you arrive on campus. This means that you will only have to make appointments if you come down with a cold, sore throat, bad cough, etc. Take the initiative and call the doc as soon as you notice something is off. I once had an untreated sinus infection turn into pneumonia…don’t let that be you!
3. Start a conversation with a stranger.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people. You never know when you’re going to meet your future best friend, spouse, or employer. Compliment him/her, ask for their opinion, or just say whatever is currently on your mind. Putting yourself out there might seem scary at first, but majority of the time it’s worth it.
4. Read alcohol labels.
If you choose to drink in college, please do it safely. Know how to read alcohol labels so you don’t go overboard by accident. Rum, for example, can range from anywhere between 35% and 80% alcohol by volume. Clearly, that is a huge range…so play it safe and check your alcohol labels before drinking! You want to be at the right level of fun, not a total mess.
5. Kill a bug without having a meltdown.
After your inevitable initial freak-out, grab the nearest shoe or paper towel, and squish that bug. You won’t be at peace until it’s gone.
6. Do laundry.
First, make sure all your clothes are safe to wash. Some fabrics are more delicate than others and will require dry cleaning. Once you’ve checked the fabrics, separate your clothes into loads by lights and darks. Put each load in a washer, insert detergent, and press the proper temperature button. Remove the clothes from the washer, put them in the dryer, and again select the proper button for temperature… Take the clothes out of the dryer and viola! Laundry’s done. Easy as pie.
7. Cook a decent meal.
Every young adult needs to learn how to cook. Not only does it save you time and money, but it’s also so much better for your health. Start out with the basics, like scrambled eggs or grilled chicken, then work your way up to more creative dishes. Your future self will thank you.
8. How to act if approached by a cop.
If you are approached by a cop, stay calm and be polite. Complaining or yelling will not benefit you. Think carefully about what you say, because they can use it against you. If you absolutely must defend what happened, do your best to get your points across in a respectful way.
9. Google effectively.
Surprisingly, less than 25% of college students know how to perform a ‘well-executed search’ on Google. This is such a valuable skill to have in college, since you will have to Google things frequently (i.e. class research, homework questions, job opportunities, etc). Know the tricks to get as much information as you can out of Google!
10. Balance a budget.
Keep track of how much money you’re earning and spending. Again, your future self will thank you for this one; balancing a budget a great skill to learn when you’re young.
11. Take a decent picture.
If your college is anything like mine, people (especially freshmen) love taking photos. Whether you’re out at a party or it’s just a sunny Saturday afternoon, knowing how you photograph is a useful trick to get the hang of. Look at old photos of yourself for inspo and figure out which angles are/aren’t flattering for your face and physique!
12. Write a cover letter.
Cover letters, along with resumes, are the first chance you have to impress an employer. Learn how to research a company and present yourself in a way that makes you proud. There are so many opportunities out there….go find them!!
13. Differentiate between credit and debit.
Debit cards require you to enter a PIN, and they draw money out from your bank account immediately. They’re as close as cards can get to paying in cash. Credit cards, on the other hand, require a signature; when you sign, you are agreeing to pay off the money later (by the next monthly payment date), as well as any interest that accrues.
14. Mange your time.
Invest in a planner or use Google Calendar, and keep track of your to-do list. Write down everything you want to accomplish in a day, and leave an allotted amount of time for each task. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to leave more time for tasks than you think you need, so that you don’t fall behind schedule. A well-planned schedule will save yourself from so much stress!
15. Refill a prescription.
If your doctor has included refills for your prescription (birth control, ADHD medication, etc), this is extremely straightforward. Just call your drugstore, request the prescription, and they’ll tell you when to come pick it up. You will need to verify your identity and information, but that’s all very easy to do. However, if your prescription does not include refills, you will need to get your doctor’s approval beforehand, so make sure you call your doc at least a few days before you run out. You want to make sure they have enough time to fill it for you.
16. Hold an conversation with someone of any age.
As a young adult, mastering the art of talking to people is essential. You should strive to be mature enough to talk to adults of any age, but should also want to come off admirable/fun to children and teens younger than you. A few tips to do this: be a good listener, ask plenty of questions, and learn from your interactions! All humans appreciate caring behavior.
17. Use public transportation.
All public transportation systems are slightly different, but most of them are fairly straightforward. Make sure you know your bus/train route, double check it’s going the right direction, and buy your ticket (use a student discount if you can)! If you’re still hesitant about what you’re doing, ask someone who works at the station. And when you’re on the bus, pay close attention so that you hear your stop when it’s announced.
Talk to people, join organizations, and ask questions. Building mutual relationships (where you know as much about them as they know about you) is the whole foundation of networking. The more connected you are to the rest of the world, the more likely you are to benefit from that network in the future.
19. Stand up for yourself.
Whether you’re with a friend, at a store, or even in the workplace, it’s so important to stand up for yourself. Know that you deserve to be respected in every sense of the word. You teach people how they should treat you, so it’s important you make that clear. No one should be walking all over you or making fun of you offensively.
20. Be okay alone.
I don’t know what it is about our generation, but on the whole, it seems there is an overwhelming fear of loneliness. Being alone is a natural part of everyone’s lives, so learning how to cope with it is necessary for overall happiness. If you find that you’re lonely in college, pick up a new hobby, explore a new area, or reach out to someone. Everyone feels lonely sometimes, but no one should have to feel that way all the time.