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May 30 2015
by Wiam El Ouadi

15 Things You Must Know About Your Freshman Year

By Wiam El Ouadi - May 30 2015
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Here are 15 tips that every college student wishes he or she knew before starting freshman year.

1. Teachers DO care.

Your high school teachers keep telling you that professors in college will not baby you and you’ll have to do everything by yourself without any assistance. This isn’t necessarily true.

While college professors can be harder than your high school teachers, they still care about you and want you to succeed in your studies. College professors have office hours where you can go to their office and ask whatever you want. If you have questions about the course materials, the assignments and even what you need to revise for the exams, go to the office hours. They will do their best to answer you and it will help you to get to know your professors better, and vice versa.

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2. Do not take early morning classes.

Just don’t do this to yourself, especially during your first semester of college. Unless you’re a morning person that naturally wakes up at 7 a.m., morning classes are not for you. Believe me, you’ll be regretting those inevitable all-nighters as you struggle to pay attention and actually stay awake in the class.

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3. Do not randomly pick your professors.

Use the website ratemyprofessor.com to choose your professors. You only need to type the name of your professor and pick the one in your school to get all the ratings and comments about that specific professor. Try to choose your professors wisely because a good teacher can definitely make a huge difference.

4. Wait to buy textbooks.

First of all, do not buy textbooks before you start attending classes. Sometimes, your professor will tell you to buy their textbook or not to buy one at all.

However, if you do need textbooks, do not buy them from your school’s bookstore, unless it’s a special edition and you can’t find it anywhere else. If you can, use websites like slugbooks.com, that compare eBay, Amazon and book renters to give you the cheapest prices.

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5. Don’t expect your career plans to stay the same.

Whether you were planning to become an engineer, a financial analyst, a lawyer or something completely different, your career plans in college could change. Don’t worry if you decide someday to change your major or switch to another department. This happens a lot in college. You might discover a passion for another field you’ve never thought about before. So do not get scared if you are suddenly unsure about what you want to do with your life. College is all about figuring that out.

6. Don't be annoying about partying

First of all, in college, you do not have to party, but the party presence is a lot stronger than in high school so just be aware in case partying isn’t your thing. If you do like to party, try not to party too hard or often unless you want to stay in college for more than four years.

Secondly, if you do party, never brag about the parties you have been to or how many beers you drank last night. This is college — nobody cares about how many numbers you got or how turned up you were last night. Never do this, you will just be annoying.

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7. You will have more homework and projects than in high school.

Yeah, you probably won’t believe me right now, but it’s the truth. Assignments and projects are a daily routine for college students. You’ll have homework every day for most, if not all, of your courses. So be prepared and expect a lot of work.

8. Laundry is different in college.

In college, laundry is not free anymore and your mom won’t be there to do it for you. You’ll have to pay to get your clothes washed and learn how to do it by yourself. You won’t be able to take just one dirty shirt and clean it anymore. You’ll have to wait until you accumulate more dirty clothes so you can do your laundry all at once and save time and money. Tip: buy a lot of underwear.

In residence halls, Sunday is usually the day when people decide to do their laundry. So try to find another day when the laundry room is less busy to do yours. Less machines will be taken and you can get your laundry done faster.

9. The “Freshman 15” is real.

It can be more or less than 15 pounds, depending on your stress level. But yes, the “Freshman 15” is real. Food in the dining halls is usually pretty good and since you have a meal plan, you have unlimited access to that food. You also won’t be thinking about how much or little you need to eat in order to save money. Therefore, the gym is the only solution.

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10. Don’t lose touch with old friends.

During your first year of college, you will make a ton of new friends. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need the ones you had back home anymore. Most of the friends you make during your first year, whether they live in your residence hall or have classes with you are temporary. During your four years, you’ll notice your circle of friends decreasing to those you're most close with.

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11. Do NOT skip classes.

This is the usual mistake most of first-years make. If you skip a class, then during the next meeting, you will just feel extremely lost. You may miss important course notes. You also may not be informed about an assignment you were supposed to hand in or a quiz you were supposed to study for.

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12. You don’t need to be best friends with everybody.

College is very different from high school when it comes to social interaction. If someone makes you unhappy or only brings negative vibes in your life, you can get rid of it really easily. If you don’t like someone, even if he or she lives in the dorm room next to you, you don’t have to deal with them. There are thousands of students at your college, you don’t need to stay stuck to someone that you don’t even like. There are plenty of people you can be friends with.

13. Dating in college is uncommon.

Dating doesn’t happen as often as it is shown in the movies. A majority of boys and girls in college are thirsty and only looking for something temporary. They want to “enjoy their life” in college. Don’t expect to find “Mr. or Mrs. Right” during your first year. And if someone offers you a drink at a party, don’t expect that to be more than a one-night stand.

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14. Join clubs.

College has so much to offer and since you and/or your parents are paying a lot of money for your tuition. You have to make the best of everything at your university. Whether you’re passionate by politics or animals or want to volunteer for Amnesty or UNICEF, you will find a club for that. Joining a club is an opportunity to get involved, make friends with people that have the same interests as you and also build up your resume.

15. Expect all nighters during finals week.

A lot of people believe that college is easy and that you don’t need to put in a lot of efforts to succeed. Not true! As a college student, you will experience many horrible all-nighters, especially during finals week. You’ll probably find yourself still awake at 6 a.m. in the study lounge studying for you chemistry or psychology course. But if you study consistently throughout the semester, you’ll save yourself from a lot of sleepless nights in the future.

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Lead Image Credit: Gold Circle Films

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Wiam El Ouadi - McGill University

Wiam is a Moroccan and Canadian freshman at McGill University majoring in Computer Engineering and looking forward to becoming a cybersecurity engineer working for the Moroccan government. She is interested in politics, women's rights, and sciences. In high school, she participated to MUN-M 2014, and she gave a speech at the World Human Rights Forum 2014 about the violation of women's rights in Morocco and all over the world. Follow her on Instagram @wiamelo!

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