So it’s that time of year again. Childhood rooms have become shrines of dust, ripped posters, and boxes full of stuff that couldn’t make it to college. College campuses are swarmed with tearful parents, excited freshmen meeting their roommates, and bored upperclassmen who have already been through it all. These first few days are a roller coaster of meeting new people, trying new things, and overall, having new experiences. Be sure to enjoy this time, rarely will there be another like it in college.
That being said, be sure to remember a few important things to do in this time of fun. If you go partying, stay in groups, don’t leave your drink unattended, don’t hook up with the first person to look your way….these are the basic ones you probably already knew about. During my own freshman year of college, I observed several other behaviors that made their year either more difficult, lonely, or just miserable in general. For your enjoyment, I have prepared a list of 5 of these behaviors I noted.
1. Joining 12 college clubs or groups at once. Clubs are great. They help you meet people who you wouldn’t normally meet. You have fun and learn new things. They might even go on your resume someday. That being said, try to choose 1-5 clubs you’re interested and go to the first meeting. Narrow it down based on the experience. If you’re away every night, you miss out on dorm events and meeting the people you live with. These events can seem pretty lame, but trust me, it pays to know who lives around you. There could be that one week you get terribly sick and need someone to deliver homework and this could easily be the one week that your roommate’s track team is in Nepal. Also, if you’re in 6 clubs at once, it eats away at your time, leaving with little time to do homework and have a social life.
2. Partying every weekend. You’re finally on your own and mom and dad aren’t around to set a curfew. Watching college movies makes you think it’s one huge party that takes breaks for classes. Trust me, it’s not. You pay tuition for your classes, not a keg in the frat house. When it gets down to it, you’re here to study and get a degree. That doesn’t mean that is all you do, it is perfectly okay to party every now and then. Just make sure you aren’t sacrificing grades for that rave this Saturday.
3. Packing too much. Dorm rooms are notoriously tiny. And yet every year, someone thinks it’s a good idea to bring 3 cars full of stuff. It’s easy to think of everything you may need, but when it comes to packing, think of the stuff you will need. Also bear in mind there are college breaks. Unless you went abroad, chances are you will be going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break. This is the time to trade fall clothes for winter wear. Try to pack only what you know you will use and then if you realize you absolutely need something, it’s not impossible to have parents ship to you or for you to make a trip into town to buy it.
4. Taking too many classes. The school I go to has the unfortunate reputation of being a 5 year university. Due to this reputation, many people are tempted to take the maximum 19 credits to graduate on time. While this is a good idea for college veterans, it is a horrible idea to someone new to the college scene. Your first semester will be spent getting used to your new surroundings as well as making friends. Taking the maximum amount of credits can be overwhelming given these circumstances. You have plenty of quarters in the future to do the credit overload, at least have the first one manageable.
5. Ignoring your RA. The Residency Adviser has a rap for going out of his or her way to get people in trouble. With this reputation, it easy to forget that they’re people too. Try talking to them, you may share an interest or even a major. At the very least, you will make a good impression, making your RA a little more forgiving when you return late Friday night reeking of alcohol.
What about you, collegiate veterans? Do you have any freshmen mistakes you’d like to share?