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The Freshman 15: Tips from One Unqualified Millennial to the Next

Going away to college was by far one of the best decisions I've ever made in life. Catapulting yourself out of the nest can be scary, exciting, curious and flat-out strange but it is the most necessary and unavoidable part of growing up. For many, leaving the nest means going away to college to see what lies beyond your childhood home, your comfort zone and your adolescence entirely. To help assist in the process, here is a list of first-year college tips to bring with you on move-in day!

1. You don't have to be best friends with your roommate. It's great if you find a life long friendship in your first-year roommate, but odds are you won't- and that's OK! It's perfectly fine to have a functional roommate relationship without deeming yourselves BFFs. 

2. Go to everything you're invited to. I remember even going to a cookie party in the resident minister's room. Was it the fattest rager all semester? Not at all, but it was an opportunity to meet people and socialize. You never know who you'll meet or what opportunity you'll run into. Just say yes- you'll never have more free time than your first year. 

 3. Leave your dorm about 30 minutes before your first class. During the first week of classes, give yourself enough time to navigate around campus and find where everything is. 

4. Use ratemyprofessors.com. It's not a myth. But don't 100% depend on it. Every one of my favorite professors have gotten sh*t reviews. 

5. Get involved. There are so many organizations and on-campus jobs to get involved with your first-year and they are all great opportunities to meet people. Even if you don't think it's for you, try it out anyway!

6. Pay attention to what you eat. The freshman 15 is not inevitable. First-year weight gain comes from a lack of awareness. You're away from home, you're eating every meal out, and people bond over food. Meeting new people/ building friendships=lots of pizza dates. 

7. Wear shower sandals. Just do it. Looks are deceiving and communal bathrooms are crawling with germs and bacteria. Good shower sandals can prevent dangerous slips and protect from disease and illness. 

8. Go to class. You'll always meet people who are in college for no good reason other than to party. Hopefully that's not you. Your education is as important as having fun and self actualization. Go to class. Even if it's in your PJs, go. 

9. Study in places other than your dorm room. Use common areas, cafes, the library- it's a good way to make friends and connect with people in your classes. 

10. Get to know your classmates. You're bound to have a sick day and you'll need to have a few friends to text and get the notes from. Tip: Don't email your professor asking if anything important happened when you were gone. 

11. Prop your door open when you're in your room. It's nice to air out your room every so often, and say hello to your hall mates as they pass by :)

12. Try to visit each of your professors during office hours at least once. They're busy people and it's difficult to remember each and every student individually. Introducing yourself and chatting for a few minutes allows you to access your professors on a personal level and you instantly become more than just a number (especially in big universities). Every professor is different, some with quirks and peeves. It's important to adapt to the course expectations of each professor. And remember, they're human. Don't email at 2am. Don't pester to visit them outside office hours. Be nice. 

13. Use your planner. Everyone buys them but not everyone uses it. Write down every important due date you can find in your course syllabi. Due dates can be sneaky sometimes so be sure to plan ahead. 

14. Cope with homesickness. Everyone is with you on this one. Separation anxiety is real and sometimes not making a ton of friends the moment you step foot on campus can make it worse. Just know that Rome wasn't built in a day and that finding your niche and tribe of people that are like a second family takes time. Try not to go home every time you feel this way. Stay on campus and instead think of ways to connect with your peers. Jump out of that comfort zone. Why? Because the best years of your life await you on the other side. 

15. Have an open mind.  See comfort zone rant. But seriously, it's okay to do things that don't necessarily align with the expectations you set for your freshman year BEFORE you even got there. Allow for surprises, for the potential to be spontaneous, for opportunities. If at any moment you regret something about your first year, you have three more and each will hold different opportunities to grow and change. 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover. 

Mark Twain

 



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