When you hear people talk about college, they might tell you about the night at the bar they escaped from a cop, but they won’t bring up sitting alone in their dorm room on a Saturday night, a freshman without a friend in sight. Though a little embarrassing, everyone faces hard lessons learned throughout their college journey. So listen up before you head off to college (or if you’re looking for some commiseration).
1. You Do You
If you think you’re the only one who feels left out because you aren’t going to Recess, Pots or Standard like everyone in your Florida State dorm, you’re wrong. Listen to yourself, not the people pressuring you. If you want to go for a run at Cascades Park or hit the library to tackle your first assignment, then that’s exactly what you should do. You’ll be happier doing your own thing and you might even make a friend in the process. Stay true to yourself and you’ll find yourself much happier in the long run.
2. Don’t Put Out
There’s a girl at the bar wearing a push up bra, skin-tight leather leggings and wedges with her hair curled to perfection. Yeah, we all know the girl I’m talking about. She’s the girl with her entourage of clones surrounded by a swarm of frat guys. I want you to know one thing about that girl: The buzz of boys around her don’t see anything valuable past what’s right in front of them. Don’t be that girl. Be you. Boys will respect you and see you in a different light than homegirl over at the bar slamming back shots and trying to act smooth.
3. Be Boring
Just because everyone else is cruising over to Collegetown on Tuesday night to get hammered doesn’t mean you need to abandon your plans involving a night to yourself. If you’re tired, stay in. If you have a test, stay in. If you have to get up early for class, stay in. If all arrows point toward staying in, but there’s still someone sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear that you must go out, here’s some advice: FOMO is not a good enough reason to force yourself to go out.
4. Don’t Deny Yourself Pizza
If you don’t gain at least seven pounds your first year in college, you didn’t do your freshman year right. Don’t focus on trying to keep your high school body. Sure, watch your diet, but don’t deny yourself the box of cheese sticks from Gumby’s after a night out with your friends. Your body will change whether you want it to or not. Don’t assume you’ll stay as skinny as you were in high school. Those unrealistic thoughts will only make you feel worse about yourself. Your body is changing, and so are you–that’s a good thing.
5. Change Your Major Four Times
If you think you want to do something because of the huge paycheck accompanying it but you hate the classes, listen carefully and stop. Drop the class you’re taking simply because you want a business minor. It makes you miserable and brings you no joy, right? So it’s a waste of time. Take a different class–something you’re actually interested in, for goodness sake. 10 times out of 10, you won’t regret that decision. You might end up changing your major three, four, five times, but the change will work out for the best.
6. Work Your Stress Away
College is stressful. That’s just a fact. There’s pressure everywhere—to go out, not to go out, to spend too much money, to get good grades. Take a step back and go for a run to let yourself feel free and relax. If that doesn’t work for you, go to the library. Bring your books, grab a double non-fat cinnamon chia latte and sit down with your Ellie Goulding study playlist. You’ll get some work done and probably do better on your next test.
7. Don’t Panic if You Haven’t found Your Bestie
In high school, you have so many close friends because you saw the same people every day. In college, you might see a peer once a week on the way to psychology or pass them in the dining hall, but chances are you won’t stumble across their path again for weeks. How are you supposed to make friends this way? Everyone’s on a different time schedule and lives in different places. If it helps, check in with your best friend from home and see how she’s doing. To your surprise, she might feel the exact same way.
8. Channel Your Independence
By the time you get to college, you don’t need your mom to make you lunch or wake you up for school. However, when your car battery dies on you ten minutes before you have to be in class, your newfound independence is tested. Students make these simple tasks seem hard because they’re so foreign to us; all our lives our parents did them. You never asked how or when or why or where, but getting your oil changed always seemed to get done. When you start doing these rudimental tasks yourself, you realize that they’re not so bad. Taking on “adult” tasks actually feels good to do on your own.
9. Know Your Drinking Limits
“Last night was soooo fun!” you send in a group chat. How many of us remember all the “fun?” Let’s be honest: Three out of the 13 people only have a foggy memory (at best) of your fabulous night out on the town. The most fun nights you are the ones where you’re far from blacked out, not the nights where your friend holds your hair while you make friends with the toilet. Don’t take six pulls of Skol in a row because you’re “feeling yourself,” because by the end of the night, you won’t be able to feel yourself at all.
10. Appreciate Your Parents
Your freshman year of college will teach you that home is one of your favorite places in this world—there’s a reason your roommate goes home every other weekend. Your parents went through college and even the terrifying part after college when you don’t get to live off anyone’s paycheck. They know much more about life than you do, and they’ve also dealt with your shenanigans for the past 18 years. Your parents pick you up, dust you off and smack you over the head with a reality check when you need it. They’ll stay by your side no matter how old you get. And they pay for your tuition–that deserves respect.