What We Wish We’d Known Before College
By Jessica Bly
Before freshman year of college, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by every aspect of college: What should I pack? How will I make friends? Should I stay in a relationship with my boyfriend or girlfriend?
I consulted my friends from colleges across the country to compose a comprehensive list of all the things a freshman should know before moving on campus.
Whether you are traveling across the country or going to a school close to home, it’s important to be realistic when packing for college. Don’t pack every pair of shoes you own, because you will not only be cramped for space in your dorm, but you probably won’t wear half of what you bring.
- Also keep in mind that you will probably borrow clothes from your roommate or other friends, so your wardrobe will most likely be expanded. One of my closest friends warns: “Don’t bring knick knacks!” –Emily Glaze, Elon, Class of 2013.
- Be sure to buy certain necessities after you get a look at your room; for example, you may buy tons of storage containers and realize that your closet actually comes equipped with excellent shelving.
2. It may take time to find close friends.
If you’ve had the same tight-knit group for years, it can be frustrating when you don’t find best friends immediately at your new school. It will take time to meet and get to know other individuals, so be patient!
- It is also important to understand that the first few friends you make at college might not be your closest friends in a few months: “It’s so important to branch out and not cling to the first people you meet or just people on your floor. Those people might be great acquaintances but you will probably find your close friends through common interests and activities.” –Allison Kipke, Connecticut College, Class of 2013
3. It’s OK to be overwhelmed!
If you’ve lived at home for eighteen years and suddenly find yourself hours away from everyone you know, it’s normal and understandable to be homesick, and even scared! It is also important to realize that everyone feels this way.
- Call up a friend from home or a relative if you’re feeling homesick. If you really feel down, it’s completely acceptable to speak with teacher or counselor; they can help you find a way to be less overwhelmed and more relaxed at your new school.
College parties can be, in a word, insane. Even if you consider yourself party savvy, college parties aren’t comparable to other types of social functions. There will be plenty of strangers and alcohol surrounding you at every party, so our advice is to use your best judgment. My sorority requires each member to have a “party buddy” for each mixer or formal; party buddies are required to arrive and leave a party together. Although sometimes frustrating when you want to leave a party and your buddy is still on the dance floor, it’s best to stick together at all times to ensure everyone’s safety.
- As for the alcohol*, “Don’t drink the punch!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013. Sometimes referred to as “jungle juice” or “trashcan punch”, this particular drink is usually made of just about any type of alcohol, juice, and soda, mixed together in a large container. The concoction will end your night pretty quickly.
- Another important note about college parties is that, for the most part, they are all pretty similar. If you have a test on Friday morning and your friends are hitting up a fraternity party on Thursday night, know that you probably won’t miss much that you can’t experience the next night: “I wish I’d known how to stay in before tests and stuff. Showing up to my speech at 8am after Mardi Gras still drunk will go down in history-I completely failed that!” –Jill (name changed) Class of 2013.
It’s impossible to tell anyone to break-up or continue a relationship through college without knowing the individuals.
- It is wise to have a conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend to discuss both of your expectations for the relationship when you’re both away at school. One of my closest friends from college had a boyfriend for the first few months of our Freshman year, and she says: “No one can tell you to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you come to college; that’s for you to decide. But just know you need to go to college with the open mind to meet new people so you can have new life experiences.” –Ashton Minter, TCU, Class of 2013
- Textbooks can be extremely expensive, so wait until after your first few classes to purchase any books. Sometimes professors are simply required to offer a textbook for the course, but they won’t end up using it at all!
- For the textbooks you will end up needing for classes, don’t immediately run to the bookstore. Chegg.com, Half.com, and other websites and resources provide much better deals on books.
7. It goes way too fast.
Everyone has heard that “college is the best time of your life”. It’s pretty tough to really understand and appreciate how wonderful and adventurous your college years will be before you even get there, so just keep in mind that it’s important to really soak up every moment of your time in college. Academics and acquiring the skills needed for your future are, of course, the key elements of college, but remember to have fun! “Sometimes it’s hard to notice it at the time because you’re stressed about being in a new environment, but freshman year is such a blast- you have to relax and enjoy it!” –Audrey Taylor, TCU, Class of 2013
*Real Life 101 does not support underage drinking, and reminds you to always drink responsibly.
Did we miss anything? Comment and tell us what you wish you would’ve known before you left for college!
Written by Real Life 101, Inc.
July 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm
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