The sun is blazing hot and the traffic is terrible. You know what that means! School is back in session. That also means that there are hundreds of 18 year olds wandering an unfamiliar town lost and confused. They don’t know how to drive or even walk down a sidewalk. Their parents aren’t there to guide their decisions anymore. They’ll either go buck wild or become a recluse. There’s usually no in-between during freshman year. To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of tips that will come in handy no matter which type of freshman you or your recently graduated high school student will become.
1. Never Pass up Free Food
The starving college student myth is not a myth. Food is easy to come by and hard to afford when you’re in college, especially when you’re looking at the on-campus options. Everything offered by your university has been upcharged like a mofo and will leave your wallet emptier than your roommate’s mini fridge likely will be. You can stock up on ramen or you can take advantage of the naive campus organizations who think offering free food will make you join their knitting circle.
During the first week of class, there is guaranteed to be a minimum of a bunch of events that offer free food. These will give you great opportunities to get free food. You might be able to socialize a little bit and make new friends but the main focus here should be the free food. Only socialize with people who are in organizations. They’ll most likely invite you to other events that are offering free food. If there’s one thing you don’t mess up during your first year of being independent, let it be this. Or stock up on Ramen.
2. Join an Organization
Unless you want to be a lonely hermit sitting in your dorm watching The Office for the fifteenth time, you need to make some friends. There’s no better way to make friends than to join one of those organizations that were handing out free food during syllabus week (read: day). Most colleges have organizations that cater to very specific interests so if you can’t find one that suits you, maybe
you’re just not that interesting you aren’t looking hard enough.
Studying is probably the most important thing on this list. I get it. Between organizations and binge
drinking watching shows on Netflix, studying can get lost in the shuffle. Don’t let it. You’re in college for on reason: to get a degree. Everything else is secondary. Don’t let your parents’ money go to waste. And if you’re offended by me saying that and try to hit me with “I got student loans” or “I’m working through college” then you’d be even stupider than the average student if you went ahead and wasted your own hard-earned money.
4. Call Your Parents (Or at Least Your Mom)
Your mom needs to hear from you at least once a week MINIMUM. This is non-negotiable. If I need to explain to you why this is, you’re either a terrible child, have a really bad relationship with your mom that needs to be worked on, or your mom is dead. Those are topics for another blog post.
5. Figure Out Your Major ASAP
A lot of kids head to college with at least a general idea of what they want to major in. Other go in with your future all laid out. Reality is going to hit both of those types like a freight train. High school might have been tough but college is a whole different beast. If you’re not careful, it will take what you love and turn it into something you hate. The difference is in success and failure is how you respond to adversity. You’ll find out pretty quickly whether or not you can handle the workload required to be in your major. If it’s too much, switch as soon as you can. You don’t want to waste any time or money staying in a major and accruing credits that won’t translate to a different degree plan if you choose to change your major later on down the road. Assess the situation and figure out whether you’re going to sink or swim ASAP.
6. Learn How to Drive
For the love of all that is holy, please learn to drive before you get to campus. Here are some helpful tips if you need a crash course in driving:
-The gas pedal is on the right. The brake is on the left.
-Left lane=fast, right lane=five over the speed limit
-You don’t need to slow down to five miles and hour to look for your turn.
-If you’re getting into a turning lane, get into it BEFORE you slow down to a complete stop.
-When the red lights come on on the car in front of you, that means they’re slowing down and you should, too.
-Pedestrians technically have the right of way but if they’re not in a designated crosswalk, it’s ok to drive as closely as possible to them to give them a little reminder to use the dang crosswalk.
-If you’re going to pullout in front of someone, you’d better time it right. If not, you;d better have some good insurance.
7. Have Fun
The last piece of advice I’ve got for you is to have fun. Don’t stress out too much. Unless you screw up and don’t take any of my sage advice, you’ll only be a freshman once. There are whole new possibilities and experiences out there for you to have. Whole new memories for you to make. Don’t waste any time. Go out there and have those experiences. Make those memories. And don’t do anything too stupid.
And call your mom.