Something students these days should know.
When I first saw this post, I took offense, scoffed and thought, “What does a college grad have to tell me, a college student? I’m in college and I know what I’m doing!” And then I thought some more. Instead of taking offense at some college grad ranting about how horrid my generation is (and for those of you who do rant about how horrid my generation is, keep in mind that you’re the ones we have to look to for examples), I thought I’d be even more condescending and do it while I’m still a college student!
+ The freshman 15 (or 30)? It doesn’t come from eating college food. It’s from all of those empty calories you pack on because you’re drinking underage. Parents, note this. Your son says he’s packed on weight because he goes to the vending machine every night? LIES!
I actually lost about 10-15 pounds freshman year from eating caf food.
+ Your first choice may have been an elite, out-of-state private university with a $55,000 sticker price and very little financial aid. But the school you may have notified about your matriculation is the $40,000 private college in your home state that offered a ton of financial aid. As bummed out as you may be, keep in mind that the money you save on your bachelor’s degree can go toward your master’s degree. At that prestigious university.
Looking back, I could have applied to the nice private university 20 minutes from my house and saved on housing.
+ Contact your roommate before the semester starts. Divvy up the shared necessities. For example, you bring the printer; she brings the vacuum cleaner. That means less to pack, less to lose, less to spend. On the same note, do not pack your Wii or your DVD collection. They are expensive and can be stolen and they will waste time.
I always ask my roommate(s) what they plan to bring and how we can divide the communal objects.
+ Set down the rules of the dorm before the semester starts, or within the first week, to avoid any miscommunications or frustrations.
My flatmates and I sat down in the living room within the first week of classes to discuss chores, bedtimes, shower times and overnight guests. I would also suggest writing down these agreements and posting it somewhere noticeable … because one of my flatmates has not heeded the overnight guest rule.
+ Buy used textbooks. I have textbooks at home I never even opened because my professor predicted one thing and then the world did another. Sell them back to the bookstore, sell them online or sell them to other students.
I always buy used textbooks. Some I sell, some I keep for my never-ending library.
+ You do NOT need a vehicle your freshman year. It doesn’t make you look cool. It just takes up a parking space that an upperclassman could have had and it wastes gas. You do not need to go home every weekend (unless your name is Elizabeth and you’re engaged and your fiance is at home and you hate not seeing him, in which case you are exempt from this rule because this is your blog and you do what you want). Stay in your dorm. Study your butt off. Or, befriend someone with a car.
I didn’t have a vehicle until my junior year. It’s nice because the path to my apartment is not well lit (it’s called Rape Path) and on nights when the newspaper goes to press, I don’t have to walk back alone at 1 a.m.
+ Speaking of studying. Do. It. You may think that this is just like high school, but keep in mind that this may very well be the last formal education you receive before entering the work force. Turn off the television, block Facebook and silence your phone while you prepare for Friday’s exam.
You should spend, on average, four to eight hours a day studying.
+ Visit your professors during office hours. Not only does this give you a chance to ask questions about homework or class concepts, but relationships established throughout college can help you later in life.
Plus, your professors had lives before they became tenured. Some of them are incredibly interesting.
+ Do not pull all-nighters. They do not make you look hardcore. They make you look tired. They make you miss class. They make everyone else roll their eyes in that why-didn’t-you-write-your-paper-when-it-was-assigned-two-weeks-ago? sort of way.
+ Do not miss class! I don’t care if your parents aren’t breathing down your neck anymore and no one is holding you accountable. You are an adult now … at least technically. Act like one. Be responsible. The students who do attend class on a regular basis look at you and remember your name so they know who to avoid in the workplace.
Every time you skip class, you’re wasting money.
+ Have a plan and a contingency plan for scheduling, in the event that your classes are filled by the time you register.
Classes fill up quickly and seniors have first choice. As a freshman, you will be the last to schedule (unless you are an honors student, in which case you may possibly schedule earlier).
+ Take your gen. ed. courses (math, science, foreign language, etc.) during your freshman and sophomore years. That way, if you drastically change majors, you won’t have to worry about certain credits not carrying over and potentially increasing your workload (or forcing you to stay extra semesters). However, do not wait until your senior year to take all of your core requirements. They may not be available when you need them.
I switched majors from political science to journalism/history during my sophomore year. Fortunately, all of my credits transferred. Don’t expect that to always happen.
+ Ask the registrar for an audit during your junior year. An audit requires the registrar (or someone in that office) to personally go through your records and determine what classes are still required for graduation.
I asked for an audit and realized I only need to take seven classes next year! However, I’m taking eight with an independent study to aid my thesis.
+ Women – upperclassmen men may contact you over the summer before or during your freshman year. They may be cute and they may pay attention to you. But they’re also paying attention to every other incoming freshman woman (unless they’re paying attention to incoming freshman guys. …). I don’t mean to be rude, but you are not special. They are looking for easy targets. Don’t give them what they want just because you’re at college and he’s cute and he’s an upperclassman. He doesn’t want anything else.
The summer before my freshman year, an upperclassman guy started contacting me via Facebook. We chatted frequently before the semester started … and then he fell off of the face of the earth. I saw him occasionally on campus, and he never even acknowledged me. I later learned that he had been contacting most of the incoming freshman women and ditched the ones he didn’t think would be willing to sleep with him. And then he sat next to me in our biology lab and we were lab partners. He never showed the vaguest inclination that he knew who I was or that our conversations had ever encompassed anything other than re-explaining the lab to him.
One of my friends was befriended by an upperclassman guy during her freshman year. They flirted and she thought he really liked her. Once he got what he wanted, he ignored her completely.
Do you have any advice for incoming freshman, or have any knowledge or wisdom to impart on students today?