College Life

The Ultimate Freshman Year Survival Guide

This is an awesome list that covers everything you need to know about freshman year! From roommates, to parties, to academics, and more – this ultimate freshman year survival guide has all the information you need to thrive in your first of year of college!

Dorm Life

Learn to live and let live with your roommate.

You may be best buddies, and you may agree on nothing. Either way, respect your roommate’s space in the room, demand respect of your space. Respect your roommate’s sleep schedule, and demand respect of yours. You will probably end up on different sleep schedules. It’s not hard to be nice.

You will have arguments with your roommates. It’s normal.

You’re stuck in a little cement cell with almost no room to stretch. Make sure you start the year with a good conversation about things. Figure out how your lifestyles line up. You’d think the surveys would find you a perfectly compatible roommate, but that survey was taken by a high school student at home, not a college student living in a 10 x 10.

Work out with your roommate how to deal with sexiling them.

Seriously. Everybody has different expectations on how this should be handled, and arguments can run deep over it. However, if you have a system, and follow it, it’s almost never a problem. Try to rotate between using your partner’s and your room. Even if your roommate may seem cool with giving you the room, frustration definitely builds up. Figure it out before it’s an issue.

Don’t skip meals and eat junk food all the time

Dorm life can be a huge adjustment from life at home, where your mom would cook you dinner, prepare your lunches and always have your fridge stocked up with snacks. In the dorms, you have to figure out how to feed yourself and yes that needs to happen everyday! Most freshmen don’t have a kitchen in their dorms and are required to have a meal plan but eating every meal at the caf can get really boring not to mention unhealthy if the only thing you can stomach there are pizza and mac and cheese. Sign up for a solid food delivery service  like Grubhub and find some takeout options you really like around campus! And since you are a student you get $10 off your first order with the promo code GHSC19.

You will be staying up late.

You will need food and coffee/energy supplements. Microwave food is great at 2 am unless you mess it up and wake up the whole building. The vending machines will run out near finals time. Going to Walmart (have someone organize a trip or drive you) and stocking up on stuff like this is a great idea.

Don’t be that person who has sex in the shower.

I should not even have to say this. Girls, you WILL be known as ‘that girl,’ and guys, girls will know you, and many will avoid you, as ‘that guy.’

Consider the study rooms off-limits for sex as well.

Please, people sometimes need a room to study at 2 am. And please don’t use the ping-pong or the pool table, they will break and people will hate you for it. And if you do make a mess, please clean up.

Be considerate of your floor-mates, and they’ll typically do the same.

You’re all adults now, so act like it. Your RA won’t hesitate to MAKE you grow up if you decide to be an immature little punk. If your RA doesn’t, there’s a solid chance the rest of your floor will.

Talk to your roommate before getting stuff for your dorm room.

You don’t need 3 mini fridges and 4 coffee makers. Decide who will be bringing what ahead of time. Also it might be a good idea to share your décor vision with your roommate so you can coordinate things or create completely separate corners. Either way works but talking about it is always best! For tips on how to match your dorm décor to your personality check this article.

Don’t lose your room key.

They are expensive to replace.

People may remove your laundry from the washing machine and put it in a dryer or remove it from the dryer and put it on top of the machine.

It’s okay, don’t freak out. People need access to the machines and if you take too long, they have to take action. Set an alarm on your phone to grab your laundry as soon as it’s done if you really don’t want other people touching it.


Don’t drink/smoke in your room.

Bad idea. Two facts mean you will get caught no matter what: noise and smell. The RAs are trained to know when there is drinking going on. The second you have more than one person drinking in a room you will be loud. The thing is, walls are thin and the doors are anything but sound proof. It will be really easy to tell there’s something going on. That said, even if you hide all the bottles and glasses when a RA knocks, they will smell it. I guarantee it. You’re all smart people and you should know alcohol has evaporates if left out in the open. That means you will reek of booze if you drink.

That said, don’t live your life in fear.

Drink if you want to. Just be smart about it.

Also, while it isn’t a good idea to drink in your room, if you do anyway and you do get caught, DON’T FREAK OUT.

This is college and every authority figure we have knows that.  They aren’t going to do anything drastic if you get caught drinking once or twice.  After two times is definitely pushing it though, and nobody wants to get pegged as a “problem.”

Remember that everyone in your dorm is a freshmen.

All this is very new to everyone. Go out there and talk to people. Freshmen year is when you make friends that last you a lifetime, so get out there and have some fun. Do not close your door while unpacking – it instantly deters people from sticking their head in to introduce themselves.

Try to get in good with your RA at the beginning of the year.

It might save you from a write-up later in the year.

Pranks happen.

Pranks can be fun. If you cause a mess, clean it up. Avoid messing with people’s sleep schedules. Don’t damage people’s stuff, and especially the common shared spaces.

If you have the self-discipline to do so, establish a bedtime.

It sounds childish, but you will feel a lot better for getting enough sleep, especially the night before an exam.

Don’t forget to do laundry.

And don’t forget to wash your bedding and towels; not just clothes.

Social Life

You’re gonna have some exposure to Greek Life, regardless of whether or not you join.

You will make really good friends and have adventures that you will remember for a life time. The beginning of the year, you’re gonna hear a lot of rumors about certain frats/sororities. 99% of the bad ones are NOT TRUE. Don’t judge a chapter by the rumors. Go meet some people, then decide. You will have friends that join other chapters and that’s fine. Side note: Sorority recruitment works differently.


Your politics/religion/beliefs are like your genitals.

Keep them in your pants unless someone wants to see them. Then you can wave them around and shove them into said someone’s face.

It is tempting to join every organization you see…

…but realize that unless you want to be known as the flake, you have to tone it down, and only commit to a few. Joining eight organizations and trying to hold positions in all of them does not work. Go to a lot of different meetings at the beginning of the year, get a feel for the clubs, then drop all but a select few. Fellow group members are as important or more important than the activity.


Don’t be that guy. Yes, you are more independent, but seriously, don’t go crazy. There are a lot of people who couldn’t handle the independence and ended up dropping out of school. You might say “that won’t happen to me!” but seriously – it can. Have fun, but make sure it isn’t impacting your performance in school.

Along with the independence is the alcohol.

It’s there. You can get it. If you opt to drink, do it responsibly. Be safe: about how much you drink, how often you drink, where you drink, and who you drink with. Alcohol can be involved in crazy mischief in good ways, and in bad ways.


Speak out.

Challenge the system. Don’t accept an answer unless there is a reason behind it. And if you disagree, let it be known.

Don’t ever feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to.

Like drink, trying a drug, go to a party, join an organization/activity, take a class, etc. Each person is different and only you know what’s best for you.

Be social, and put yourself out there.

Join clubs that look interesting, leave your dorm, lounge in the common area. Hang out with your floor, pick up games of basket ball. And most important, LEAVE YOUR DOOR OPEN. Best way to meet people.

As far as gals and guys go, don’t be afraid to interact with them.

Trust me, neither bites. unless you act like a jerk, in which case, well, no guarantees. Just go out, be yourself, and have fun. And don’t take it too personally if someone isn’t interested.



College is about getting a job. There are career fairs in the fall and spring, with the spring having an emphasis on internships. Have the Career Center help you put together a resume, practice mock interviews, and look for networking opportunities. Your end goal of college should be to come out as a young professional that can impress.’

Use tutoring services before you have the grades to prove you need them.

Sign up to get help on homework, have concepts explained to you in a different way, or just have someone help you review what you covered in class. If you’re hesitant because you think it’s “uncool” or “shameful,” keep in mind that there’s nothing uncool or shameful about a better GPA because you took the time to get help.

You have a Google account through your school’s email.

This connects you to a number of powerful resources (Docs, Calendar, etc) that will make your life much easier if you use them. So use them!

ASK if you don’t know.

If you don’t understand something about your major, about Financial Aid, about ANYTHING, remember that there are entire offices and departments employing people who are paid specifically to answer your questions. Make them earn their salaries. Don’t sit on something you don’t know – it may save your ass!

See Also

Treat community property very well.

It’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that someone else will clean up your mess, but you’re an adult (or soon to be) – act like it.

You were the valedictorian? Congrats! So was everyone else who went here!

You’re no longer on top of the academic world and can’t breeze through school any longer. Don’t come in expecting that your brilliance will magically carry you through your classes – be prepared to work. Hard. The most successful students first semester are often less naturally brilliant – because they knew how to study and learn when many others just floated through their APs.

Experiment with note taking systems.

There’s a lot of recommendations online if you don’t know what to do. Good notes –> good grades (most of the time).


Transcribe your notes from class into a unified and succinct document.

This way, by the end of the semester not only have you studied everything by rewriting and rewording your notes from class, but you also have a study guides. Having those already assembled will save you much time in finals week.

Don’t celebrate until you’ve finished ALL your finals.

No matter how tempting it is to celebrate with your friends who are done earlier.

Be friendly to professors in office hours/coffee break.

Professors love to talk to students (for the most part) and in addition to providing your rec letters/references for the future, they are the best way to learn about life. They don’t even have to be your professor – if you find one that researches/ does something you’re interested in, they’d love to talk to you regardless of whether or not you are in their class.

Don’t freak out too much if you fail your first exam in your classes.

This is the time to adjust your study habits and visit office hours to get the help you need (if necessary). You can still do extremely well in the class! Don’t let one bad exam grade get the best of you.

BUY USED TEXTBOOKS or find the PDFs of the books.

A good trick is buying the edition that is one year older, it will be MUCH cheaper and have basically the same material. Check StudentRate, their textbook price comparison search engine will help you save.

Create a study schedule/program.

High school did not prepare you to study for college. It just baby sat you long enough to make it here. Work with your advisors/TAs and make a study program. You cannot cram.

Health & Fitness

If you take a bite of something in the dining hall, and you don’t think it tastes right, eat something else.

You don’t want to be sick because of bad food. It happens more often than you think, and always during the worst of times.

It’s tempting to buy restaurant food and store it in your freezer/fridge.

Bad idea. Dorm fridges do not keep food good as long as one might think.

For the love of god (and good health) bring shower shoes.

The health center at most universities gives out free condoms.

To both guys and girls. In a similar vein to alcohol: if you have sex, be safe. Study up on facts about birth control!

Bring a health insurance card.

You never know when you’ll end up spending 6 hours in the emergency room on a Friday night, 400 miles away from home. Trust me, you don’t want to have to pay out-of-pocket for that.

Don’t eat fast-food every night.

That’s a health hazard.

Avoid neglecting your health.

And try occasionally going for a run, doing push ups/crunches in your room, playing basketball in the court or going to the gym to do anything athletic. Your health is the most important thing you have.

*This list was originally shared by Hayley Brianne Flanagan in the Case Western University Class of 2018 group. The original author of the list is unknown but we will be happy to give you credit if you reach out to us! 

Featured image source:
Alexandra Smith

Alexandra Smith is majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys running, hanging out with family friends, and roaming the world with her camera in hand.

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