1. Conventional wisdom instructs you to get a good night’s rest before an exam. You will learn that your body is capable of pulling off incredible feats to the contrary — like staying up all night to study before your 8am final.
2. When a frat boy asks if you want “a tour of the house”, there is a 60-75 percent chance they aren’t trying to show you their chapter’s composite photos from the ‘80s — depending on the time of night.
3. Listen to your mom and attempt a healthy, balanced diet. But, your body will never be as adept at processing garbage as it is during these four years…so, no big deal if you, uh, happen to eat Chipotle for dinner every day for a week…
4. Do not make out (or “make out”) with anyone if you aren’t prepared to see him or her on campus all the time afterwards and exchange awkward hellos, as social niceties require.
5. Befriend your academic advisor. Get to know them well — they will become one of the most important people in your life during your college career. Their job is to vet for you, guide you, and train you into the productive little human being you are meant to become.
6. There are three numbers you should always keep in your phone, for emergencies — that of the campus police department, that of the student health services, and that of the nearest late-night delivery place.
7. Give everyone a chance. Reputation matters — but only to a certain extent. Don’t base your judgments of someone on how other people perceive him or her. Instead, get to know him or her yourself.
8. Master the one-armed side hug. This is the cash cow for people everywhere who are too awkward to flirt, and learning this skill will serve you for the rest of your (young adult) life.
9. Keep a bottle of aspirin in your desk at all times. Don’t question this. It will be one of the smartest choices you make while in college — made even better if you also keep a steady supply of Gatorade in your room.
10. Any romantic partner who contacts you past midnight is not doing so to talk about their feelings with you. Side note: hold out for the ones who are willing to spend an entire afternoon in bed with you, giggling over YouTube videos of cats — including the Greatest Song of Our Generation, “I Love Cats.”
11. Go to parties where you don’t know anyone. The point of college — besides the obvious — is to meet as many people from as many different backgrounds as you can. There are few other points in your life where you’ll have this opportunity.
12. When deciding whether or not to take a course, pay as much attention to the professor teaching it as you do to its subject matter. Make sure that you are on par with his or her teaching and grading styles.
13. The temptation to sleep until 3pm on Saturdays is great. So is the temptation to spend most your weekend playing Madden. Every once in while, fight the urge to laze away the weekend. Leave your room. Venture off campus. Do some reading. Be productive — or, at least, feign it.
14. Learn how to do your homework efficiently. Three hours of focused studying will benefit you more than eight hours of occasionally skimming your textbook while Facebook stalking your crushes with your best friend and trying to determine your chances.
15. Befriend as many upperclassmen as you possibly can. Upperclassmen will be your best allies when you’re a lowly freshman or sophomore and still naïve to the way the world works. Having already leveled up from what you’re currently experiencing, they have a wealth of knowledge and advice. Return the favor to underclassmen when you’re a junior or senior.
16. If you receive an invitation to a Facebook event for some party by a guy (or gal) you haven’t talked to in a solid few months, this is likely their best attempt at “casually” running into you. Go with it. While in college, you’re allowed to act like an idiot in all romantic matters with few consequences.
17. The library is the worst place to study during finals. It is, however, the best place to go if you need to catch up on your social responsibilities.
18. In the grand scheme of things, college relationships matter little. Some of us get lucky enough to find our true #love, but most of us don’t. College lasts for four years. Most of us have little idea where we’ll be at the end of it — where we’ll find jobs or go to grad school. Don’t freak out if your relationships don’t go as planned — there will be plenty of time to Pinterest your future wedding or scope out wifey material later in life.
19. It’s exciting to be away from home for the first time, but don’t get too drunk on freedom. You don’t want to be known as the guy who passed out in front of his freshman dorm during the first week of school or the girl who pulled down her pants and peed in the middle of the dance floor during a party.
20. Whenever you go out, make sure you are with at least two friends — including one that you really trust. If she’s managed to keep your embarrassing crush on Skip Bayless a secret for this long, she’ll make sure you don’t get into any trouble.
21. Take time for yourself. The beautiful part about college is that you will never be alone if that’s what you want — between roommates, friends, classmates, and the thousands of other folk roaming campus. While exciting, the constant social stimulation can also be draining. Find some alone time, whatever that means for you.