A Guide to your Freshman Year of College (from someone who just lived it)

August 9, 2011
Things you should get before you go that maybe yo mama didn’t think of:


A few pieces of Tupperware- can be used for any storage, and is excellent for leftovers in a mini fridge.

Lots of hangers- the school usually doesn’t supply them and often drawers don’t hold everything!

(Optional) Plastic drawers- no, not stiff underwear… plastic slidey drawers to hold miscellaneous items. Effective storage is key.

A plant- it really does make a dorm homier and less stuffy. But not all freshman dorms have space. This might be an item to buy later on if need be.

A mini blender- Perfect for on-the-go one serving breakfast fruit smoothies! Minimal clean-up! Maximum yumminess!

An electric kettle- Make sure it’s allowed, but it can be excellent for mac & cheese or tea (but not mixed together).

A robe- unless you want to running through the halls starkers, you should probably invest in a fuzzy one.

Shower shoes and a shower caddy- absolutely a must! Depending on how many people share your bathroom, you’ll probably want wart resistant shower shoes and a plastic waterproof caddy to hold all your fruity scented bubblestuffs.

A reusable water bottle or nine- I brought a bunch so they don’t have to be washed all the time but they are extremely helpful. And green! Don’t be one of those people who buys big cases of water!

Traveling mugs/tumblers- Bring two. You will drink copious amounts of hot beverages. They will be useful.

Speakers- what’s a party without some jams? They really will come in handy. And footy.

Bags of assorted sizes- you’ll go on weekend trips and day trips, you’ll go to the grocery and/or convenience store, you’ll go to parties. You don’t want to have the same bag for all of them. Bring a reusable shopping bag, a duffle bag, a backpack, a purse, and a small clutch that fits your phone, your keys, and a falafel sandwich. Partytime.

Leggings/Stretch pants- they make excellent pants, party outfits, exercise clothes, pajamas, lounge pants… literally, you can just live in them and never take them off. Even in the shower. Haven’t you ever heard of liquid leggings?

A sleeping bag- you never know when you might need it. If Victoria Vacationhouse invites you out for the weekend, you won’t want to say no because you don’t have a sleeping satchel.

Sticky Hooks- They will be SO helpful. Wet towels on the floor make everything smell like nast.

A power strip- Let’s be honest. You have like 7 chargers, some lights, and some other crap that needs power. Just buy one and bring it.

A small tabletop mirror- if your bathroom is down the hall and you are heading out for some fun, it’s much easier to shellac on the mascara from the comfort of your own desk. Just beware of the magnifying ones; you may end up picking at your face for the rest of the night.

Things you probably won’t need and should leave at home:


Way too many pillows- the beds are small already; you don’t need your jolly rancher pillow and all of its pillow friends scootin’ you out of your bed in the night. Bring 2 or 3. Decorative pillows get old (and mold!) real fast.

Candles, incense, massive bonfires- RA’s don’t like fire. The end.

A lot of books you probably won’t read- I made this mistake. You barely have time to do any pleasure reading. Bring 1 or 2 books you’ve wanted to read and prepare yourself to use them as coasters.

A large collection of movies- one word: Netflix. Get some.

Frilly s***- no dumb curtains, no pillow shams, no bed skirts, no fancy lamps, no floofy s***. Your roommates will think you’re 7 and so will you. Keep it classy; don’t create a theme for your room.

Your collection of sweaters/sweatshirts- you definitely need some, but don’t bring 10 sweatshirts. For one thing, you won’t have room. Also, you can re-wear them and that means less laundry. Less laundry=more happy. Not to mention, the stankier, the cozier. Their odors will bring back memories.

Furniture: All types- Double check, but most college dorms don’t allow bedside tables or anything. That’s why you get a set of plastic drawers to bypass that rule like a champ.


Things you should look into before leaving:


Meal plan- pretty straightforward, but make sure you’ve got it all squared away. Food is really awesome and you want to have it.

Printing policy- should you bring a printer? Or not? My school has print credits and a wireless printing system but I found it easier to just use my own printer. If you’re bringing a printer, paper is a really great addition.

Dorm visitors policy- don’t tell Sally McSasspants she can visit you for a week if your dorm only allows people to stay for 2 nights in a row. Most dorms understand, just make sure you know the rules.

Welcome Week Schedule- Your first week, you’re not gonna want to go to class and return to your dorm and twiddle your thumbs for a few hours. Find out about any events going on for freshman during the first week and first month. There will most likely be lots of freshman socials and get-togethers that you should attend! Be sure to look out for an activities fair! That’s how you sign up for clubs and such. Clubs are what make college ridiculously fun.

Dorm’s furniture policy (if you want to bring any)- See whether or not outside furniture is allowed. Often it’s not allowed, due to the tendency of crappy wooden furniture to spontaneously burst into flames, but if you have something you really want to bring, you should look into it before you load it into the car.

Laundry Dealyo- Do you swipe a card? Do you press some buttons? Do you insert 400 quarters? Do you use the force? Figure out how this works. And don’t forget to bring detergent, dryer sheets, a stain stick, and a laundry basket/bag. And 400 quarters if need be.












The kind of freshman/student you do NOT want to be:


Christina Clingypants- This has nothing to do with not wearing static guard in your pants. It’s more related to the freshman who latches onto her 8 new bffs and won’t go anywhere without them. Obviously everyone’s insecure and looking for new friends, but you need to be sure to still have time for yourself. Go on a self-guided campus tour by yourself or with maybe one other. Nothing screams “freshman” like a flock of 26 loud, dolled-up girls holding each other’s arms who are totally oblivious to the rest of the world. DON’T DO IT.

Francine Fifteen- As much as I hate to say it, the freshman fifteen does exist. We’re all very much aware of it now, so with proper care, it can be avoided. But, Francine will sneak up on you when you’re not looking and all the sudden, your self-esteem plummets and you question your decision to eat 5 cookies from the dining hall and top it off with a midnight falafel or two from the falafel cart. It’s not always about what you’re eating, but rather how much or when you’re eating. The occasional night bite is fine, but don’t make a habit of it. And many dining halls allow you to keep going back for more, but you should always wait at least 10 minutes to give yourself time to decide if you’re really still hungry or if you just saw the fresh tray of garlic bread come out.

Gianna Gymbo- working out is good and healthy. The gym at your school will probably be the most well stocked and decked-out gym you’ll ever be a member of. Take advantage of it. Try new classes and attempt to use new equipment. But, do not become obsessed. Cute sneakers and neon Lycra workout clothes are tempting, but DO NOT become a total gymbo. If you do, you’ll be sucked into a tanning bed, start dating a beefy, protein-shake-drinking bro, and never ever turn back. If the gym becomes your life, then you’re not really living. Visit the gym a healthy amount and for goodness sake, please do not make your facebook status about it.

Sandra Slacker- College life snatches you up, gives you nugies and then flings you back on the floor. No, I don’t know what that means either. But college can be hectic and crazy and really beat you up (there it is!) sometimes. Time management is absolutely crucial. Do not forget that school almost always comes first. Procrastination is inevitable, but in the end, you might end up missing something you really wanted to do for fun. You will, believe it or not, occasionally find yourself with a large gap of time where you’ve got no plans. Rather than catching up on the last two seasons of 30 Rock, you should probably at least start your English paper. And if you do, give yourself some credit. Allowing yourself to feel proud of your behavior and your work will make you want to continue the trend. Win win. Also, missing one class is usually not that big of a deal. Alert your teacher by e-mail and make sure you get the notes and work from a fellow classmate. But by all means, DO NOT let it become a habit. Even if you think you can teach yourself from the book, you will gain something from the lecture. Even if that just means new friends to groan with. Go to class. It’s what you’re paying for. It’s why you’re in college.

Tabitha Teacherspet- Many of your first year classes will likely be big lectures. Do not fear! Big lectures can, in fact, be very interesting and even interactive. My biggest class, Sociology 101, was one of my most interactive classes of all. Sit towards the front with the other nerds, don’t bring your laptop (because you’d sit there and use stumbleupon the whole time), and absorb what your prof is saying. If possible make yourself known to your professor; find an appropriate time to greet them after a class or compliment them on an interesting lesson or point they gave/made. But remember, these professors have had SO many students and especially if they teach a lecture, they don’t get the chance to meet all of them and actually get to know very few of them. Do not e-mail them unless you have a question or have a legitimate reason. Don’t be a pest.

Ida Imokay- Your school has a health center for a reason. If something is wrong, go there and ask. Worst comes to worst, they can’t help you and refer you elsewhere. But most college health centers have everything from physical therapy to STD tests, band-aids to cough drops. If your throat hurts for a couple days, go get it checked out. The last thing you want to do is spread it to everyone else on your floor. Or miss classes for a week. Either way, better safe than sorry. Or dead.

Rhonda Ridiculousroomie- Roommates are often hit or miss. And sometimes they can both be good. You don’t want to be best friends with your roommate, or else you won’t branch out and meet other people. You obviously don’t want to be enemies, because well, that just sucks. The most important thing when it comes to rooming with someone is respect. Respect the other person, respect their stuff, and respect their space. Some roommates will want to cuddle and chat before bed; others will turn of the light and start snoring. A little understanding and flexibility go a long way. Within the first week, you should go over sleeping patterns, class times, food/allergy/minifridge shenanigans, boyfriend statuses, pet peeves, and anything else you feel is relevant and important. It makes sense to get that over with early on so you can all start off on a good foot.

Pamela Pleaselikeme- Insecurity is about as abundant as the plethora of sparkling MacBook Pros in the freshman dorms. In fact, more so. Everyone is no one, everyone is new, and everyone wants to make friends. Everyone is in the same incredibly uncomfortable and socially awkward yet exciting boat. But there are many people, especially girls, who get too desperate. They want to feel comfortable and safe as soon as possible so they become pleasers. Pleasers are fakers. Fakers don’t make good friends. And as for being a pleaser, beware! Upperclassmen guys, especially, will take advantage of that in a not so pleasant way. You don’t want to find yourself in this situation, or even very near it.

Annie Alcoholic- There is an unbelievable amount of substance use in college. Duh. There always has been and there always will be. It’s part of the whole shebang. Often it’s the people who have experimented a little before college, that are just fine. It’s usually the people who didn’t touch anything before, and weren’t exposed to substances, that are suddenly surrounded by it and become overwhelmed. They become “intoxicated” by the whole scene and lose track of their priorities. Parties are often the best way to meet people and network, so they should not be avoided. But remember, if you ever feel totally unsafe or sketched out, it’s just not worth it. You have to think about the long term. Am I having enough fun to make this worth whatever may occur? If so, awesome! Stay, be safe, and enjoy yourself. If not, find your buddies and head home. If you’re far, most schools have an escort service of which you can take advantage.

Vivian Victim- We all know it happens, but never to you or anyone you know. But it could. Substance use messes with judgment and bad things can happen. I won’t go all sexual-harassment-health-class-video on you, but take care of yourself. Don’t accept rides home from sketch balls, don’t drink so much you can’t remember your own name, don’t share a drink with an ex-con… be smart. And in the words of Janet Rimm: “You never know who might be an axe murderer…”

Cindy Cellphone- Cindy Cellphone is especially unacceptable in the library on the quiet floor. I’ve almost thrown books at Cindy before but resisted only because it would make more noise. DON’T ANSWER YOUR PHONE IN THE FREAKING LIBRARY. Otherwise, just be respectful with your phone. Don’t text while talking to someone… whatever. It’s common sense.

Diana Distance- When you’re in college, you tend to get so wrapped up in it all that you forget about the outside world. Don’t let your parents think you fell off the face of the earth. Remember to call mom and dad every once in awhile to update them on everything. Send surprise letters to your best friends from home. This may not seem important, but it is. Don’t lose touch with your life before college. Even though living on your own is great, your parents were the ones who got you there, so be thankful. As for your old friends, they helped shape who you are today. They may be off doing their own thing now too, but they probably haven’t forgotten you either. Often old friendships fall apart while both people are at separate colleges and I’ll admit, it’s hard to keep in touch. But if you value the friendship, then make time. It will be worth it in the end.

Marlene Missyou- On the other hand, don’t call mom and dad and your nine best friends every day. If you’re constantly talking to people who aren’t at college with you, you’re sort of removing yourself from where you are. Not to mention, your roommate will start to get pissed that you’re always on the phone. Find a nice balance of staying in touch with college and the outside world. It may take time and practice, but if you can manage that, you’ll be just fine.
I challenge you to:


Go to the dining hall alone, eat your food in peace, and return to your dorm. You should know that you can do this. All too many people refuse to go to the dining hall alone. That is SO lame. And anyway, people will probably approach you while you’re there! New friends! Woo!

Strike up a conversation with a rando (random person) in the library (not the quiet section), student center, walking down the sidewalk, whatever. It will be easier if you know they’re a freshman (because they were probably building up the courage to strike up a convo with you) but anyone will do. It’s excellent for your confidence and will gain you many friends… or at least really interesting/awkward and funny conversations.

Attend two or more club meetings. Look online or in the student for information about clubs. Find at least two that look interesting and attend a meeting. Worst comes to worst, you hate it. Guess what? You don’t have to go back! Heck, you don’t even have to stay the whole time! But at least you tried it. Most colleges have a club for every interest. I really really encourage you to get involved with at least one club and stick with it.

Try something new! This is SO vague and I hope you’ll try lots of new things. But with this, I’m referring directly to something individual. Maybe your roommate has a violin. Ask her to teach you a little. Maybe there’s an art store around the corner of your dorm. Buy yourself a pad of paper and some drawing pencils. This is what I did and I discovered that when I’m really in the right mood, I’m not half bad with a stick of charcoal! College is a great time to discover new interests and try new things. You might be horrible at one thing, but great at another. Take a risk! I promise you won’t regret it.

Make the best of it. No matter what “it” is… it will happen. There will obviously be some bumps in college. Maybe a class is harder than you expected, or maybe you and your roomie don’t get along as well as you’d hoped. That’s part of the experience. Instead of whimpering about how you wish it were different, cope with it and learn from it. It will make you stronger.

Befriend an international student! I learned so much from my Italian friend, Mattia. He spiced up my college experience (literally… his cooking was amazing!) and provided a new perspective. College is teeming with people from different backgrounds, so if you hear an accent or see someone with fabulously European style, strike up a conversation!

Meander off campus! Go on a little afternoon outing with a couple buddies and see what’s beyond the walls of campus. What a shame it would be to never know your new hometown. You never know what you might find!
A note about goodbyes:

As your departure date nears, you will realize some of your closest friends depart before you. Most southern schools start a little earlier than others. Also, if you have friends that are doing sports in college or are in certain programs, they may have to leave early. This means it’s time to say good-bye. Goodbyes just suck. They almost always do. But if you think of it as a “see you later” it makes it easier. And it’s true, you’ll be apart for a few months but you’ll almost certainly see each other again at Thanksgiving or Christmas break. You’ll all be so preoccupied in college that it will be a lot less painful than you expect. On nights before a friend leaves, get together or have a slumby and go nuts. Make some memories, laugh, cry, jump up and down with excitement (like in the movies), promise you’ll keep in touch with each other, and then hug goodbye. It may seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but you really will be okay. If your friendship is strong, it will stay solid. If not, then cherish the memories you had together and move on. That’s a part of growing up.





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