Use these tips made for freshmen to look over the summer before arriving at the mecca. Compiled by a rising junior, these are some things you MUST know before becoming a Howard University freshman. Don’t take any of them too literally, but always keep them in mind.
1. Howard is a party school.
Some people know this already, but we love to have a good time during a long week and after it. We will honestly have a party for anything – birthdays, Mondays, taco Tuesdays, brunches, going aways, end of the semester, thirsty Thursdays, etc.
2. There is a heavy presence of liquor here.
Like other college campuses, there is a heavy presence of liquor. Drink what you can handle or you are better off not drinking at all; and always eat before the turn up.
3. Be cautious of drugs.
Be careful when going to parties. The punch could have been spiked. If you have any suspicions, just don’t drink it and never take drugs from strangers (or at all).
4. Protect yourself.
I know several of my friends that have been sexually harassed, so I’m here to tell you it’s a REAL thing. My best advice is to avoid being alone with people you are unsure about. From what I heard, a lot of the times it’s the friend you would never suspect, so know that any one is capable of forcing themselves on you.
5. Don’t travel alone.
Unfortunately, some of the areas around campus can be dangerous and you don’t want to be the next victim, so always try to travel with a friend or classmate. This is very important at night. If you have to travel alone at night try to catch a ride, call an Uber, or just be cautious of dark streets/alleys.
6. Get off campus.
There is certainly a “Howard bubble” that many freshmen get caught in, meaning that they never leave campus and explore D.C. The city has so many things to offer (a lot of them for free), so take full advantage of the location and get to know other communities besides just Howard’s.
7. Try not to be a part of only one clique/group.
It’s easy to just stick with your freshman week crew for the entire four years. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you shouldn’t deprive yourself of having other friends and hanging out with other people. This will make your experience a lot more fun as well.
8. You can join orgs, but know that you can have just as much fun without joining.
Don’t let people pressure you into joining something because you socially “have to.” It can be a great way to create bonds, but you can create just as powerful friendships without an organization.
9. Put school first and intern.
You will be overwhelmed by what Howard has to offer, both socially and academically, but always choose school over everything else. Also, be sure to intern and take advantage of the opportunities to have experience in the nation’s capital on your resume.
10. We look at what you wear.
Howard has been noted as one of the top fashion schools, meaning we take our style seriously. Not everyone competes for best dressed, but we do love to look nice. Of course sometimes we wear sweatpants and t-shirts, but that’s not our everyday look.
11. Make every connection possible; don’t burn bridges.
Don’t let petty issues ruin relationships. Howard has a lot of students with potential, and you never know who could help you down the line.
12. We call locals, “locals.”
If someone is from the DMV area (Virginia/D.C./Maryland), we have a habit of just calling them locals. They don’t really care to be called locals, so don’t refer to them as locals in front of them.
13. Everything is a process.
No matter what you are trying to get done at Howard, rarely is it simple or easy. Whether it’s a grade change or you need to pay a debt, clear your day because you will be waiting for hours to get the help you need.
14. Register early and avoid holds.
You don’t want to be the person with only nine credits and the wrong classes because you registered late. Be sure to have no holds before registration, know your alternate pin, and when it is your time to register to be sure you don’t get behind.
15. The WiFi will be down.
We have campus wide WiFi, but you can’t always count on it. Be prepared to use a hotspot or make journeys to the library for internet accessibility throughout the semesters.
16. There’s no visitation.
The dorms rarely have visitation, meaning that if someone doesn’t live in your dorm, they will rarely be able to come to visit. The freshman dorms have the toughest security and are usually the last to get visitation.
17. Get soul food on Thursdays.
Thursdays are the most popular days for the cafeterias, where they serve soul food. Instead of the usual mystery meals most people don’t care for, on Thursdays you can count on fried chicken, fish, cornbread, mac and cheese, collard greens, and other comforting favorites.
18. There are sometimes celebs on campus.
At some point you will be around celebrities, so be prepared to take your selfies (but don’t be annoying).
19. Utilize the valley and yard.
These are common places for most of the students, especially the yard. If you ever need to promote things or want to be around people, these are the places to be. Or if you don’t want to be seen in your sweatpants and bare 8 a.m. face, avoid these places.
20. Don’t get caught cheating.
Too many students rely on the “finesse” when it comes to their classes. I’m not for it or against it, but no matter what your “finesse” is, just be sure that you and anyone you are working with doesn’t get caught. It’s not worth losing a scholarship, getting expelled, or having a record of cheating.