15 Things You Should (And Shouldn’t) Do During Your First Year Of College


It’s spring semester; you’ve taken your SATs, finished the daunting task of college applications, and have officially checked out of high school. (Well, at least mentally.) Your severe case of senioritis makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, much less complete a five page paper on that book you never read. The only glimmer of hope is the shiny, almost blinding light at the end of the tunnel- college.

You’ve gotten plenty of advice- from your parents and siblings to that talkative stranger in the mall elevator- on what to expect your freshman year to be like. Lucky for you kid, I was pretty sheltered growing up. “Chasers,” “condoms,” and “cram sessions” were not in my underdeveloped high school vocabulary. My college jargon on the other hand, became rather vast within the first few months of my new found freedom. Unfortunately for me this freedom did not come with a warning label. As you will soon learn (probably the hard way because, c’est la vie) just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes though, the great stories that come from questionable life decisions are worth it.

Here is your freshman 101 Survival Guide – 15 things you should and shouldn’t do.

1. Speaking of Freshman 15…

What?! Chick-fil-A is in my cafeteria?! And I can use my meal plan?! While it may seem like a gift from the gods to have such deliciousness right at your eager fingertips, it may be in your (and your skinny jeans) best interest to pack a lunch every once in a while. What’s that saying about too much of a good thing? It goes straight to your hips? Something like that…

2. Get your 30 minutes in:

Classes are going to keep you busy, especially your first year. Make time every day for a little exercise. It will help relieve stress and keep that beautiful bod of yours bikini ready. This is college after all; you never know when you’ll be invited to a beach themed party…

3. Take too many pics:

These are the best days of your life! The times you will reminisce about as you’re sitting in a tiny cubicle wondering why you were ever in such a hurry to grow up. Document your experiences, heck make a scrapbook if you’re feeling crafty. Trust me you’ll be happy you did. 

4. …Okay but don’t, like, take too many pics:

Some things you really don’t need to break out the camera for. I know that salad you’re having for lunch looks extra colorful today, but it probably isn’t anything worth sharing. Just enjoy your meal; your Instagram followers will thank you for it.

5. Put down your phone:

We live in the social media era, where “likes” and “retweets” come before actual face to face interactions. I mean, did you really go to that party last night if you don’t take a 300 second long Snapchat story of it?!  Unless you completely blacked out at said party, yes you were really there and no you don’t need an app to remember it. Disconnect yourself from the virtual world and be present in the here and now.

6. Go to class:

I know this may seem like a no brainer, but some days it will just be very difficult to find the motivation to attend a two hour lecture.  “The sun is shining, it’s too beautiful out to be stuck inside!” Or alternatively, “the sun is shining, it’s too bright and I’m too hung over to be a real person today.” Take some Advil, put on your shades and sit in the back with all the other students riding the struggle bus with you.

7. Bring an apple to class:

Okay, so maybe you don’t have to actually bring your professor a piece of fruit on the first day, but you should definitely introduce yourself. (*Please note, it is not recommended to attempt if number 6 applies to you)

8. Don’t commit:

Going from the small pond of high school to the wide open sea of college will expose you to all kinds of new fish! While you may luck out the very first time you cast your love rod, don’t call it a day just yet.  Your freshman year is going to be filled with new experiences as well as people, take this time to develop friendships and save the serious dating for later.

9. Call your parents:

Keep in touch with your parental unit on a regular basis, not just when you spend all of your grocery money on alcohol. Plus, surprise visits on the weekend are never a good thing. One minute they’ll be telling you how proud they are and the next you’ll be throwing up in the backseat. Take it from me, that is not the best way to show your parents you’ve made friends.

10. Don’t stereotype yourself:

Maybe you were starting varsity quarterback, or maybe you avoided school functions altogether. Whoever you were in high school doesn’t have to be who you are in college. Put yourself out there and you’ll come to find you have something in common with everyone.

11. Go to the pet store:

I don’t actually have too much reasoning behind this one, other than playing with puppies will make any day a really freaking great one.

12. Know your limit:

If you’re anything like me, you waited until college to have your very first sip of alcohol. And, if you’re like me, that “sip” turned into 5 shots, 4 beers, and 3 friends carrying you home. If you’re new to the whole drinking thing, it’s best to take things slow. See how you handle your liquor before you agree to that ‘fifth and a friend’ party next weekend.

13. Don’t feel pressured to make the big decisions:

I know it may seem as though everyone has their entire future mapped out but believe me- they’re just as lost as you. Don’t stress about choosing a major right away. Take your time to discover what you’re good at, and what you like to do. (Other than beer pong, the job outlook for that career isn’t too promising.)

14. Don’t have sex – you will get pregnant, and die:

Ha! Just kidding. But seriously though, if you’re going to do the nasty with someone be sure to protect yourself, or it could literally get nasty down there. (Anyone else recall that STD photo reel from P.E.?) And although sex feels like how pizza tastes, my inner catholic school girl feels the need to mention abstinence is cool too.

15. Don’t take Do’s and Don’ts you read online too seriously:

Why are you listening to me anyways? Go out and make your own rules! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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