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20 Things I Wish I Knew As A Freshman At John Carroll University

20 Things I Wish I Knew As A Freshman At John Carroll University

John Carroll University is a beautiful scenic campus full of smart and kind individuals (for the most part). Here are some things you should keep in mind before embarking on this very exciting journey.

1. Talk to your roommate before move-in day.

This is not only helpful for feeling more comfortable and socializing, but it also helps to know what your new roomie is packin’… literally. Divide up the big stuff like the mini-fridge, microwave, vacuum, TV, etc. Then, you can compare your personal belongings; maybe they are bringing something you forgot to put on your list! Don’t forget to talk about decorations and scents for the room because it would be the worst if you brought neon pink sheets, towels, and curtains only to find out that they prefer a black and white minimalist look. When it comes to scents, you don’t want your roomie to have an asthma attack or migraine every time they walk in because of the air freshener you bought.

2. Buy LOTS of underwear and socks.

Chances are the washer and dryer WILL eat them and not give them back ever. It’s also possible that you forget your laundry in the dryer and it gets put on a table where some sticky fingers are prone to look through. Plus, it’s NOT fun to run out of cute underwear in the middle of the week, and then have that cute guy in English finally ask you on a date!


3. At least pretend to pay attention when crossing Belvoir.

Yes, the cars will most likely stop. No, that doesn’t mean put your head down – with head phones in, music blasting, eating a sandwich – and cross the street. Try to act like you see the cars and like you are making an attempt to hurry across the street, even if you aren’t.

4. Pack like you’re going into an apocalypse.

If you’re not from the Cleveland area, you might be used to seasons that transition smoothly. However, here in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio we get to experience every weather type in the span of two weeks; sometimes less. So pack like you will never have the ability to go home and get what you’ve forgotten. Yeah your move-in day is in August, but you should have snow boots, an umbrella, and a bathing suit on standby. The weather can change in an instant, and John Carroll’s gorgeous campus is also conveniently located in the “Snow Belt.,” the snowiest, coldest places in Ohio. Also, your freshman dorm will not have air conditioning, so buckle up for some really sweaty nights and seeing your new roommate naked sooner than anticipated.

5. Don’t spend all of your dining dollars in the first month.

Listen, you don’t know now and you might not know until the second or third week of going to John Carroll, but the Inn Between might as well be the holy land at John Carroll. The caf food isn’t completely terrible, but you might get sick of pizza, grilled chicken, pasta, hamburgers, and salad. You also might get hungry after 7 p.m. with no food left in your room; this is where the Inn Between comes in. They make your food in front of you and it’s sort of like a mini grocery store in there, but with all of the good stuff. It’s a quick-service food establishment and it’s run by the same company that cooks for us in the caf. The problem is, that everything is a bit overpriced, so your dining dollars can run out fairly quickly. So try to pace yourself and go to the cafeteria when you can, and use the Inn Between sparingly. Some of my friends reserve the Inn Between for weekends only, which is actually a pretty useful tip.


The Cubby is a late-night coffee shop, with fresh baked goods and is student run. The Cubby has recently added morning hours, which a lot of students are really happy about. There is also an Einstein Brothers bagel shop in the Admin. Building. I suggest that you steer clear. Their food is amazing, but they will suck your money dry fairly quickly, and it’s usually packed in there. If you do choose to go, try to allow yourself about fifteen to twenty minutes, and make sure you know what you want when it’s your turn to order. The food is definitely worth the wait and can be convenient for back-to-back classes, but it’s also a bit pricey. If you drink coffee, I suggest buying a reusable mug from them and then paying the refill price ($1) every day.

6. Hold doors open for people.

This may seem pretty trivial, but people will hold doors open for you. When I say people, I mean everyone. The teachers, students (guys and girls), maintenance staff, and even some members of the community will all do this. So please don’t be the one to break this habit. People are kind here and care about each other, so show your appreciation when the door is held for you, and be courteous on your way to class and hold the door, even if that means you have to wait for an extra ten seconds. It seems silly, but it’s one of my favorite parts about John Carroll, and one of the many reasons I attend. I was walking with a couple packages one day, and a guy saw me through the doors in the atrium and ran out to open the door for me. These are the kinds of people that John Carroll graduates into the world. Please be one of them.

7. Don’t cut across the quads – ever.

I don’t have a good reason why you shouldn’t – just don’t do it. You will be caught on somebody’s Snapchat or be featured on YikYak. You are subject to strange looks and rolling eyes if you cut across on your way to class. Honestly, don’t cut across any grass. I really don’t understand the reason behind it, but it’s just a thing here at John Carroll. The upperclassmen will show no mercy on you. Stay on the sidewalks and paved walkways and you’ll be great. It takes more time to get places this way, but once you figure out your specific route to classes, then you’ll find out how to be time effective in other ways. This is not to say that you can’t ever step foot on the quad. When it’s nice outside, you’ll see people on the quads studying, playing Frisbee, sunbathing, chatting, playing football, walking their dogs, snacking, etc. It’s a great place to meet up; just no cutting through on your way to class.


8. Attend free events.

JCU puts on all different kinds of activities on weekends. You get an email called the Weekend Wowzer, which goes out every Wednesday. In the email you can find the time, place, and description of the different activities that will be taking place on campus. Most of these activities are events that various student organizations have created and spent a lot of time and energy putting together. My advice is to attend these events because there is always yummy free food. There are usually activities that allow you to take things back with you to your dorm. I have paintings, wall art, and potted plants (to name a few) that I made during these events. I’ve also gotten to hang out with lizards, turtles, sugar gliders, puppies, bunnies, and some pretty cool people too. Sometimes there’s an opportunity to get massages, airbrush tattoos, take pictures in a photo booth, etc. Let me mention again, this is all FREE. It’s a great way to meet new people or hang with old friends, learn new things, and get creative. I suggest at least attending Streak the Center. This is the Beyoncé of campus events. That, and the events scheduled during finals.

9. Find the good water fountains.

Even if you are earth conscious, carry around a reusable water bottle, and don’t need to drink out of the fountains, you have to refill at some point. There are certain water fountains that have that cool water bottle fill up. However, not all of the fountains you will encounter are bottle friendly. This is not to say that you can’t fill your bottle up there; it isn’t as easy though. You also have to check out the arc and temperature of the water, especially in the dorms. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to fill up your water bottles, jugs, and pitchers. Go scope them out!

10. Make an effort to keep your door open.

I understand that for some of you, this might not make any sense. I would like to say, please trust me on this one. When you first move in to your dorm, you will most likely cling to your roommate because you guys know each other. There is nothing wrong with being close to your roommate. However, college is all about meeting new people and having new experiences. So I highly encourage you to leave your door open for the first couple weeks. You don’t have to have it propped open 24/7. Obviously you don’t have to change with the door open or sleep with it open. It is a good idea to keep your door open when you are just chilling in your room, though. My hall became very close this way because people would stop in and say hi or wave at you. It’s a great way to build community, because it makes it more accessible for somebody to approach you. Plus, it’s going to be hot in the summer. So open those windows, prop that door open, and get a nice breeze going.


11. Complete these rites of passage.

Some of these are obvious, while others may seem slightly silly.

Get a picture with the John Carroll and St. Ignatius statues, and the occasional JCU appreciation picture of the tower.


Ride on Cabby D (you will find out what this is soon enough – bring $5), take “the Loop” (our free shuttle service), ride in an Uber for the first time, and, if you aren’t familiar with the RTA and riding the Rapid, I suggest you do. This is Cleveland’s public transportation system and it can be a lot of fun to get your friends together and head downtown for fun.


Eat at Melt. Do it. You will not be let down. They are a local restaurant that serve variations on grilled cheese. The sandwiches are huge, the environment is friendly and a bit hipster, and the experience is something you can’t miss out on.

Attend a varsity sporting event to support one of your friends, and scream their name whenever they do something awesome! This is not only a way to be a great friend, but you can meet lots of new people and build a strong bond with your collegiate community.

Attend a group fitness class. John Carroll offers free group fitness classes that include cycling, beginner and advanced yoga, tone-up, PiYo (Pilates and yoga fusion), and Zumba. They are a ton of fun! You can bring a group of friends or go alone and still have an awesome time, while getting your butt in shape by some really great instructors.


Explore what Cleveland has to offer. We have a gorgeous, free art museum, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, our sports teams, The Cleveland Botanical Garden, a natural history museum, MOCA (the Museum of Contemporary Art), Playhouse Square (the second largest theater district after Broadway), amazing restaurants and nightlife, and the West Side Market. I am a huge fan of the West Side Market. It’s a great place to buy local and to enjoy the hustle and bustle of a market environment. There are people willing to haggle with you and sell you some amazing stuff.

12. Keep an open mind.

When you chose to attend John Carroll University, you also chose to be a member of a safe and accepting community. The students at John Carroll are diverse in not only race, but socioeconomic background, culture, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identification. JCU is a Jesuit university and a lot of the students are Catholic/Christian, but that does not mean all are. There are people from all over the world at John Carroll. The administration does not play around when it comes to diversity and inclusion. There are a ton of student organizations that sponsor activities and events on campus to help others understand their culture and lifestyle. Some of these groups include Hillel, Allies, LASA (Latin American Student Association), and many more. You may or may not be introduced to people you are not used to being around, and it’s important to remember that regardless of your experience with any given group of people, you should always be respectful and courteous. It’s one of my favorite parts about John Carroll and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

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13. Take the fruit from the caf.

Here’s the thing: you’re actually allowed to take fruit or a couple cookies to go. Take advantage of this. It’s a good idea that if you are in the habit of going to the cafeteria anyway for your lunch or dinner, take a piece or two of fruit with you. Then you have something you can eat fast for breakfast or for a snack between meals. This is a great way to help you remember to eat the necessary fresh fruit for the day. It’s also a way to help you combat the dreadful freshman 15, by providing you with something healthy to eat when you’re feeling snacky.

14. Take advantage of the relaxation tools offered.

I’m talkin’ massages, therapy dogs, the relaxation room and quiet rooms in the library, and “Wellness in the Stacks” – relaxation activities located in the library including crafts, weekly meditation group, reflection journals, and more. These things are all free and are available often. It is well worth it to take a break sometimes and just go take care of your mental health so that you are more capable of dealing with the stresses of college life.

15. Visit your academic advisor.

My academic advisor has been a big help to me and I’m so happy I have her. She has helped me overcome certain issues that arose in scheduling my classes, and has been there to give me advice about my current courses. I think the advisors are a huge resource that you should definitely take advantage of. From my experience, your advisor genuinely wants the best for you in your education, and will help you whenever they are able to. Your advisor genuinely wants to see you succeed and hear about the good (and even the not so good) things in your life. It’s also important to remember to build positive relationships with staff at John Carroll because eventually, you will leave and will need reference letters from somebody. Your advisor is a wonderful person to ask for references, especially if you have been with them all four years at John Carroll. They’ve been there to help you through conflicts, and to encourage you to push yourself when all hope seems to be lost. They have been there to see the way you handle conflict and success, as well as the way you have developed throughout the years.


16. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes.

I think that we forget that there are almost always people facing the same struggles as us. I contribute this to the fact that when you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, it’s really hard to keep perspective. For most people, college brings challenges far more different than they have ever experienced before. This includes – but is not limited to – academics, relationships, sexuality, finances, being away from home, and health and well being. Everybody is worrying about the same types of things, and some more than others. I think that fighting being overwhelmed or pretending it isn’t happening isn’t always the best approach. It is important to allow yourself to feel all of your emotions (good or bad). It is an essential part of being human and feeling alive.

It is important to learn to deal with things and cope with challenges you will face. Do not be afraid of conflict. Embrace conflict for what it is – an opportunity to learn and make yourself better. If you ever feel like you cannot handle things alone and feel desperate for help, there are a lot of resources available. I already mentioned the relaxation resources and your advisor on campus, but we also have a counseling center with wonderful people who are there specifically to help you get through things. I should mention that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. I am somebody who definitely has difficulty admitting when I can’t handle things on my own, especially academically. I will say though, if you can get past your pride, getting help is one of the strongest things you can do for yourself.

17. Swear by the buddy system.

We are going to take a quick trip back to preschool and kindergarten. I believe that we are all familiar with the buddy system. However, if you are unfamiliar, the buddy system is the act of having somebody go with you somewhere so that you are not alone, thus making whatever you are doing safer (in theory). In college, the buddy system is crucial, especially for females. It is very important that if you intend on going out to party (not suggesting that you should go party) to have people with you that will have your back and look out for you in potentially dangerous situations, such as drinking or walking places at night. There is nothing wrong with taking somebody with you to go to the bathroom in a place you are unfamiliar, or even just going to the Inn Between at night. Keep yourself and your friends safe. Travel in packs.


18. Practice safe sex.

I know this is something that is pretty played out, but here’s the thing: college is when a lot of men and women start their sexual journey. It is perfectly normal and healthy to explore your sexuality and get to know who you are as an adult in that context, if that is what you want to do. Safe sex is not just preventing pregnancy and STD/STIs. Safe sex is also about consent. When you start your life at John Carroll University, you will be hammered with a lot of information about consent. Consent is a huge deal. I don’t care if it seems lame. What definitely is lame, is that one in four college females is sexually assaulted and one in six men will also experience sexual assault. This is 25% of your female classmates. Consent isn’t stupid; raping people is.

Some things to keep in mind are that you are allowed to have any kind of sex you would like to have as long as all parties involved understand what is going to happen, are willing to participate (the whole time), and it isn’t illegal or harming any other individual in any way. Pleasure and safety are the number one priorities when engaging in any sexual act with another individual. So make sure the other person/people you are involved with are enjoying themselves and are not under the influence of any substances or unwanted pressures. You are allowed to change your mind at any time if you are no longer interested in pursuing whatever it is you are about to be engaged in. Condoms and other methods of contraception are also very important. Like I said earlier, college is the place to explore your sexuality. But everybody is exploring at different rates and speeds. It is important to disclose the conditions you might have that could be transferred to any other parties. It is also important to use protection.

19. Call home.

I do NOT recommend calling home a lot during the first couple weeks. You need to allow yourself to get used to living on your own. Your family at home wants to know that you’re safe and having fun, but you need to remember that it’s for the best if you don’t allow yourself to obsess over calling and/or texting home. Keep in mind that everyone is proud of you and wants the best for you, so allow yourself to do the best for yourself. With that being said, I do not think you should go a month or two without checking in with your family. Let your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, or whoever took care of you that you love them and appreciate everything they did/do for you. Without their support you would most likely not be where you are now – going to a beautiful university. Take time out to bring yourself back to your roots every once in a while. Make sure they know you’re still alive, doing well, and eating. Families always want to make sure that you are eating. Plus, things can get really overwhelming, really fast.


20. Do not wear your lanyard around your neck.

When you get to school and receive everything you will want to buy a lanyard to keep your student ID and the key to your room together and safe with you. Here’s the deal: do not wear the lanyard around your neck. I am warning you now. Here’s what happens: you will stick out like a sore thumb, look like a complete freshman, and probably be laughed at a little bit. If you are interested in social media things, Yik Yak is an app you can get that allows you to make completely anonymous posts. People in your “herd” (JCU) can see it and comment on it anonymously as well. Most of the time, it seems to be really big at the beginning of the year in the fall with freshman, and then it will die down. Upperclassmen do occasionally get on and comment about freshman wearing the lanyards around their necks. I keep mine in a side pocket of my backpack. Some people put there’s in their pockets, etc. Whatever you do, DO NOT WEAR THE LANYARD AROUND YOUR NECK! And good luck at John Carroll. You will love it here.

Have any other tips for freshman entering John Carroll University? Comment below!

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