Advice for College Freshman

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Between last week and this week, thousands of kids all over the country are moving into dorm rooms and getting ready for Act Two.  This is a time that is scary and overwhelming and exciting, so those of you who are new students and feel like you’re in panic mode – don’t fret! It will all be just fine.  To help you through the rough patches, I have five pieces of advice for you that will help you get through this first year:

1) Go to class
After a few weeks of class, you’re going to be really tempted to skip at times – those 8 a.m. classes catch up with you and you’re going to want to hit that snooze button or watch TV instead.  Going to class and sitting near the front will reduce your study time by at least 30%.  Possibly even more.  If you go to class you don’t have to worry about trying to squeeze 10 chapters of information into your brain the night before a test.  That method does work for some people out there, but for most of us? All it does is cause stress and take away hours and hours the night before a mid-term or final.

2) Liquid Detergent > Powder
Powder may be cheaper, but it can get clumpy and yucky.  Plus, coin-operated machines in dorms are pretty wimpy compared to what you’re used to at home. My life improved exponentially when I switched to liquid.  If you MUST use powder, take this tip from my former roommate: let the washer run empty for a minute to get a few inches of water in it, add your powder, let the water go for a few more seconds so the powder dissolves, and then add your clothes.  While we’re in the laundry room, one other tip: NEVER leave your clothing unattended.  Someone will steal all of your cute clothing and you will never find the person who did it.

3) Avoid cheese, fried foods and vending machine sweets
Okay, there’s a lot you can do to be healthy – eat your fruits and veggies, work out regularly, blah, blah, blah.  If you can’t do all of that, and you’re not good at planning out your meals? Avoid anything cheesy or fried.  Vending machines? It’s tempting to grab a Snickers or those yummy little sugar-caked donut sticks that go perfect with a cup of coffee, but all of that quick and easy stuff is where your “Freshman 15” will come from. It all adds up, slowly but surely.

4) Don’t panic if you feel lonely
I can’t tell you how many people feel like they are never going to make friends their first semester.  It always seems like everyone around you is having an easy go of making new friends, but just as many people are feeling shy and nervous around all these new faces.  It takes a while to really connect with people.  It will happen; until then? Enjoy the quiet time – read a book, listen to music.  Walk around campus and enjoy life.

5) If you are in a relationship that involves long-distance sobbing at least once a week, end it.
Every floor on every dorm in America contains one-half of the co-dependent high school couple who fights and weeps over the phone at least once a week for the entire school year.  Look; it’s sweet you guys want to be together, but this is supposed to be a fun time for both of you.  You’re wasting this wonderful time in your life by crying on the phone.  It’s not healthy.  Relationships should never involve that much crying.  Seriously – put the relationship out of its misery and have fun.  Date other people.  See how brilliant and amazing you can be on your own.  By yourself.

Of course, don’t just take advice from me:  I asked a number of former college students for their advice to incoming freshman.  Here are some of their responses:

  • Do your homework and don’t gain the fresh 15 (Analisa)
  • Drink water and eat bread while drinking (Peter)
  • Don’t run out in front of cars (Jacob)
  • If you’re not a morning person, don’t take 8am classes. (Chris)
  • This is going to be the worst time of your life. After you survive this, anything else is cake. (Kirsten)
  • Go and explore the town and city. Take pictures of all the doors on campus. Live the college life! …I should have taken advantage of everything college had to offer me…so much more so than I did.  Lectures, concerts, museums, so much! I did a lot my first semester…visiting Boston and all but it teetered out quickly. (Douang)
  • Simply be yourself.  College is probably the only time where you’ll be surrounded by people just as confused as you so there’s no sense in trying to be someone you’re not. (Jacob)
  • Don’t get a credit card. And don’t drink so much. (Jenique)
  • Try to get a part time job to structure your study time, use that time to actually study, and use a condom every time! (Angela)
  • Study more, drink less, have more confidence in yourself.  And know that if you aren’t already there, you should have gone to St. Mary’s College of Maryland. (Joy)

Does anyone have any advice they’d like to share? Help a student out and post below!