1. Wear sweatpants to class.
In the working world, if you’re lucky, you get to wear business casual every day. If you’re unlucky, you have to wear a suit every day. Either way, sweatpants are out, so enjoy them while you can.
2. Go to office hours.
Building relationships with your professors is important. You may need a letter of rec down the line. Even if you have no intention of going to med school or law school, it’s much better to be able to take your pick when that time comes rather than having to attempt to quickly and hastily build a relationship the week before your personal evaluation form is due for the Peace Corps.
3. Take advantage of “FREE.”
There’s free stuff all over the place at college; pizza for attending events, lanyards for crossing the threshold of the student center, beer at frat houses. Take it all, and don’t forget to say thank you!
4. Give back.
Don’t forget to take time to realize how fortunate you are and pay it forward to the world. Many colleges have “Alternative Student Break” programs, among tons of other volunteer opportunities.
5. Skip class sometimes.
Once you become an “adult,” taking a day off becomes a formal process where you must relinquish your fleeting, precious, PTO. Skip class here and there while you can. Mental health days are important!
6. Study abroad, or at least travel.
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever again have large windows of time to travel in. Use them; there’s so much world out there. If you come back a different person, that’s okay, that’s what college is about.
7. If you must choose between studying and going out, find a way to go out.
You’ll forget the Spanish quiz, and while you may also forget (conveniently) that you danced on the bar and refused to handoff the karaoke mic all night, you make friends doing the latter.
8. Take classes that sound a little weird.
Again, college is your time to explore. I took a class dedicated to studying women authors, one about the history of religions in America, one about poetry, and even one about the magic of numbers. I never get to learn about interesting things like that anymore.
9. Be nice to everyone.
You have no idea who you may run into later in life, and what he or she may be doing. Your classmates could become expert doctors, influential senators, or even your kids’ teachers. Always remember kindness.
10. Anything you think you might want to do, try it.
There is a time and place for everything, and it is called college.
11. Change will happen, and that’s okay.
You might change majors, friends, your hair style, significant other, dorms, weight, or all of the above. It’s. O. Kay.
12. Order lots of late-night pizza.
Not only does this become less socially acceptable after college, but also after college, you have less free time during the day, aka less time to watch Real Housewives on the elliptical at 2pm as you burn off said pizza.
13. Call your parents.
They love you, they miss you, they are worried about you, and they want to hear about your life. Take time to call them. They will appreciate it immensely.
14. Step away, occasionally.
While it is so easy to get sucked into the bubble that is your campus, remember that there is a whole world out there. Hop on your bike; pack up your car, hail a cab, and go. Near, far, it doesn’t matter. Just pop the bubble from time to time.
15. Document everything.
You never know when you may need to reference research you did for your senior honors thesis, and you also may never know when you may need photo evidence to convince your freshman year roommate that she did in fact finish a beer tower at the local dive bar alone.
16. Respect shower shoes for what they are.
I was so happy to move out of my dorm and take my first shower in my off campus house without my shower shoes on. But, occasionally I missed what they represented. Disgusting communal bathrooms, not so much, but being surrounded by friends and fun and remembering the freshman year feeling of endless possibility for the future, absolutely.
17. Don’t forget your high school friends.
While you are all off doing your own things, and while you may never live in the same place again, you shared an important piece of your lives. At first, everyone you meet at college seems superficial. All of your conversations will be some variation of: “Where are you from? What are studying? Where are you living on campus?” You will be grateful to have your true friends to call up. Also, by the time winter break rolls around, you will be positive that your suitemates are your soul mates, but still, spend time with old friends when you are home for the holidays.
18. Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.
Self-explanatory. File this one away. You’ll thank me later.