1. Buy real washing detergent, not Tide pods
I honestly thought Tide pods were the coolest things ever. Washing detergent and fabric softener wrapped into one tiny water soluble package? Uh, yeah I’m buying that.
Don’t do it.
It took me and my friend countless ruined shirts to finally figure out that pods suck. Stick with normal liquid detergent, and you’ll be thankful that you did.
2. Control your spending
College was the first time I had a debit card, and good lord, you should see my spending expenses from my first semester. I bought so many posters, books, clothes, and other things that I really could’ve done without. The biggest challenge was fitting everything into three suitcases and flying all of it back home.
I had to pay an overweight baggage fee.
3. Use your meal plan
I know the dining food isn’t always as good as Chipotle or Raising Cane’s, but the sooner you realize that you’ve already paid for food, the more money you’ll save out of pocket. Feel free to break the monotony of pizza and burgers with a little bit of Cane’s chicken fingers, but for the most part, make sure you stick with your meal plan so you end up saving money overall.
4. You’re going to fail
Honestly, it sucks. No one is going to deny it. You’re going to fail, and then you’re going to crawl up onto your bed and think about dropping out of college and becoming a homeless person because what else are you good for?
You’re going to fail and you’re going to hit rock bottom. And guess what? You can’t go anywhere but up from rock bottom. So climb. Get your shit together, motivate yourself, and start climbing. Sometimes it takes failure to realize exactly what’s not working and why you didn’t succeed in the first place. Whatever the case may be, pick yourself up and understand that you are not the only one. Call your best friend, and tell them what’s going on. Read Oprah’s biography. Do something that will motivate you to be better. Plan out your life and really, truly figure out why you’re pursuing a higher education and what it means to you. And do all of this while eating a carton of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
5. Cry in the showers
No really, do it. Cry because you miss your family, cry because college is harder than you expected, cry because you feel all alone, cry because you failed (see #4). Let it all out. There is not a single bit of shame in crying because college is tough. Everything about it is taxing. Suddenly, everything is on you: laundry, food, studying, transportation, waking up early, buying groceries, cleaning your room. You are responsible for everything in your life and that can be a little overwhelming. Maybe you miss your friends from high-school, and maybe you miss familiarity. If you go to a big college like me, then maybe you just feel so tiny and swallowed up by everyone and everything. It’s honestly so much to go through, and sometimes all you need to do is cry. You’ll feel much better afterwards, I promise.
6. Be a courteous roommate
My roommate was a complete and utter slob. She would not take out the trash, she would leave empty Ramen bowls strewn across her floor. I don’t know if she showered every day or not, but my room smelled horrible. She would talk loudly on the phone at like 2 in the morning. It got to the point where I just could not even live in our room anymore. Don’t be that roommate. Please, I beg of you. I’m not really a huge fan of conflict, so I never said anything to her all year, but it was honestly the worst. My friends would come up to me and tell me they could smell my room from the hallway.
This is disgusting and just straight up rude.
Please realize that you are now sharing a space with another person, and you should respect that. Respect their space, respect their privacy. Help out with the general upkeep of the room and communicate with them. Your roommate does not have to be your best friend, but they should be someone you can talk to and trust to keep your shared space habitable. If you’re the gross one, then stop. If you’re the one stuck with the gross roommate, then talk to them about it or talk to your Resident Advisor.
It’s college, I get it. No parents, no curfew, no rules, TIME TO TURN UP RIGHT?! Yeah, I mean sure. Go ahead and go out. A little party never killed nobody. But realize that you’re here to earn a degree and use that to change the world in some way. Yes, Cs make degrees, but for a lot of us, Cs won’t cut it. Study like you’ve never studied before because your GPA is everything. No, it doesn’t define you, and no you’re not a number. But your GPA should be a reflection of your greatest level of intellect. Make sure that your GPA reflects just how capable and intelligent you think you are. The only way for that to happen is if you study. It’s very easy to get distracted and sidetracked with all the cool things and people and bars and frat parties, but at the end of the day, your future employer is going to want to know what your standing in your class was, and not how many beer kegs you downed.
8. That being said, have fun
Everyone always does this. “Study hard, but have fun!” they say. And honestly, your freshman year will end up being either one or the other. There’s no way around it. If you can somehow manage to balance both perfectly, props to you! Honestly, that’s impressive. But if you don’t, no worries. You’re in the same boat as the rest of us. But just make sure that you manage it better the next year. Go out, figure out the social scene. Meet new people and all that jazz. Explore the city that you’re in, because college towns are some of the coolest places to be. Go to a concert, hit up the nice shopping malls, find the fancy restaurants. Enjoy yourself, because these years really never do come back.
9. Go to all of your classes
Ok this one really sucks because I am such a sloth. I usually cannot wake up before 11, so this was a struggle for me. But honestly, do it. You’re paying for all of them, and I’m willing to bet that your classes are not cheap. And one of my friends who never skips class (goody two shoes) told me “I don’t like all of my classes, but I always learn at least one cool thing from all of them.” And that made me realize that there is so much about the world that I do not know yet, and it was kind of pretentious of me to assume that I knew enough to skip class. I know it sucks to haul ass at 7 in the morning to be on time to your 8am’s, but it’s worth it, I promise.
10. Do you
These next four years are for you. They are all to build you, and for you to become the you that you are meant to be. So with that in mind, wake up every morning with a clear idea of why you’re here and what you need to accomplish. And honestly, enjoy it. You are probably not going to get another four years in your life where everything is centered around you, so you do you.