I remember my move-in vividly. My mother was obsessively rearranging pillows on my lofted bed while my brothers were both giving me pointers on the basics: try to talk to at least one person in each class, go to office hours, try to make a good impression on all of the professors and remember to always lock the door to the dorm. By the time my first day of classes rolled around, I thought for sure that I had heard every tip for college there was. It wasn't until after my first year that I realized that all the basic tips in the world could not prepare me for the real deal. This list consists of all of the unconventional tips I think that every incoming freshman should hear. They won't save you from messing up a time or two, but hopefully they will help you adapt a bit quicker to the college lifestyle you're looking for.
1. Getting lost is no big deal.
Depending on where you go, your campus can be big. Getting lost is common, especially for freshmen. It takes time to get used to where everything is, but downloading a map onto your phone or asking for directions can make even the largest of campuses seem manageable.
2. Seriously, wear your shower shoes.
I was shocked to find how many people thought shower shoes were optional. I know that the showers get cleaned often, but you still have to walk through a public bathroom barefoot to get there. I mean, sure, I guess you can choose not to wear them, but don’t complain when you get some kind of itchy foot fungus.
3. Take advantage of the dining halls.
Chances are you bought yourself a meal plan. USE IT. It’s already paid for, and although the food might not always be the best, it sure beats ramen. Not to mention, dining halls often have generic store-bought foods like cereal that are easy to sneak out in plastic baggies to snack on later.
4. College guys/girls are not all that.
So many students get to college and hook up with the first person they meet. Often, these people reveal themselves to be totally not your type. Feel free to talk to people and date around, but you don’t want to end up committing to someone you just met just because they were the first nice person you ran into.
5. You’re not too cool to participate.
College can be a lot of fun if you aren’t afraid to look like an idiot sometimes. Go to sports games and paint your face with your friends. Step out of your comfort zone and join a club you’ve never heard of. Once you graduate and get into the adult world, there won’t be a whole lot of time to experiment with hobbies and you’ll be less likely to be forgiven for looking like a fool.
6. Take a class you’ve always wanted to.
Sure, mythology or video game design might not count towards your major, but take it anyway! College is the perfect place to learn about things you’ve always been curious about. If you’re too focused on strictly making it to graduation, you’re doing it wrong.
7. Don’t be afraid to drop toxic people.
College can sometimes seem so big that you tend to stick to negative people because you simply don’t know anyone else. However, the vastness of your school’s student body should be seen as an ocean of friendship opportunities. Having terrible friends now is worse than putting in the effort to meet new people.
8. Don’t ever feel ashamed of your major.
Whether you have your life all planned out or you’re just going with the flow and seeing what happens, remember that you are in this moment in your life for a reason. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on pre-med, journalism, education or undecided — you have just as much of a right to be there as everyone else, and with proper determination, you can achieve all your career goals.
9. Appreciate the fact that you're actually there.
Sure, college is all about having a good time, but remember, getting a college education is a privilege in this day and age. There are people all over the world, all over the country and probably even in your hometown who would kill to have the opportunity to study at college. Don’t get wrapped up in all the excitement so much that you forget why you’re there in the first place.
There are so many things to figure out when you first get to college. At first, you will feel like a tiny fish in a huge pond. You'll walk into the wrong classroom a time or two. You're sure to make a fool of yourself more times than you can count. You'll be homesick, you'll doubt yourself and you'll feel a bit lost. But college will also result in you having the best time of your life. You'll meet lifelong friends and experience a whole new chapter of life. Once you've gotten the hang of things and found where you belong, you'll never love any other place as much as you love college.
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