Now that I’ve finished my freshman year, I can confidently say that I am slightly less of a dweeb than I was when I started. For those of you just about to break into the big, bad world of university life, here are some helpful tips right from the front lines.
For all the weird smells — late night Thai takeout, marijua- *cough* “burnt popcorn,” your neighbor getting sick, your gym clothes you still haven’t washed from last week — Febreeze. Febreeze the hell out of everything.
You never know when you’re going to get sick, or when your Friday night gets a little crazy, so always have meds on hand. It’s an especially handy way to meet friends if you’re that guy who can lend a hand when someone needs it.
3. Find out how you study
I found out pretty quickly that chaining myself to the basement of the library was depressing and ruined my work ethic, so for the sake of your GPA, study however is best for you. Mine happened to be with a large triple shot cappuccino at my local Think Coffee.
4. Planned serendipity
It’s hard to randomly meet people on the street and make friends, but you can plan out where you’re likely to meet like-minded people. School clubs in particular let you make brilliant friends who regularly have lively debate, adventures in the city or your college town, and share a drink all while talking about what you love most.
5. Sit in on a class
Especially as a freshman, you’ll have to take your required classes, and while I’m sure they’re fascinating, you never know what else you might be missing. Take one hour a week to sit in a class that sparks your interest and who knows? You might discover your best professors, favorite subjects, best friends, future business partners, and it might even change the way you see the world.
6. Schedule time to eat!
If you’re the kind of person who loves to do everything all the time like I am, you’ll forget to eat. Giving yourself those breaks in the day to socialize, reset yourself, and de-stress will improve your day tenfold.
7. Explore beyond campus.
Especially in colder climates, it’s easy to bundle up, eat noodles, and watch Netflix all day. While those are definitely a necessary part of college survival, the best memories you’ll have will be of the adventures you have outside your dorm.
8. Be nice to staff.
Because one day, you’ll need that extra coffee after closing hours from the barista or you'll need the security guard to let you into your building after you forgot your key. Friends always come in handy.
9. Buy cheap books
Know where to buy cheap books before your school bookstore decides to shred your wallet. (Hint: Renting books from Chegg is a godsend.)
10. Be friends with your roommate.
There are definitely those horror stories out there, but since a roommate is someone you have to live with for six months, definitely put in the effort to be friends or at least be cordial and polite. It’ll make your life so much easier than having to come home to a stressed-out roomie. (Plus if you ever have a "private" friend come home with you, you'll want to call in the extra favor.)
You’ll probably be broke by the end of the year. Best to accept it now.
12. Finals are hell
Make them less like hell by avoiding procrastinating and planning what projects will need the most time.
13. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Most professors are very understanding of the pressures you’re under and if you need help. If you need an extra day on a paper, or need an extra hour to discuss something with the professor, just let them know in advance and they’ll go out of their way to help you.
14. Be obsessed
One of the best things about college is that you have the opportunity to learn everything and anything about something you love. So find that thing, whether it's music, tech development, or bass-fishing bait, and learn every possible thing about it. Otherwise you'll end up feeling like this.
15. Bargain shopping
Did I mention you’ll be broke? Trade or secondhand stores are your new best friends. Vintage is very in style, you know.
16. When in doubt, take a taxi
You’ll go out with friends, and you may go to some weird parties. Whether you’re intoxicated or it’s just late and you’re alone, the best decision is to cab it home and take the extra hit to your wallet. Too many nasty things happen on late-night subways or on dark university streets.
17. They might not be The One
You’ll probably go through a heartbreak or two during your lifetime or you may find your soulmate in college. Either way, it’s always wise to remind yourself that you’re young, and it’s a big world out there. Don’t get too attached to one person before you’ve had time to enjoy life, you suave bachelor you.
18. Know your sleep schedule
Trust me. If you're the kind of person who likes to sleep until noon, do not take 8 a.m. classes. They will be the bane of your existence.
19. Find the right friends
So many people just “fall” into knowing their friends simply because they happened to live together, had the same classes, or grew up together. Curate the people you spend your time with. You’ll want to surround yourself with people who challenge you to be your best physically, intellectually, and emotionally, as well as let you contribute to quality conversation. It’s definitely a task that takes time, but the best of these friends are the ones you’ll keep in touch with for the rest of your life, so make 'em good.
So little freshman, go forth, and conquer that crazy world we all call college.