COLLEGE. That word paints a vibrant picture in your head, doesn’t it? The things that come to mind are parties, drinking, all-nighters, and the infamous freshman 15. There’s a lot to be learned before you actually dive into your college career.
You’ll need to decorate that dorm before heading to your first lecture. Make dorm decor easy with the freshman collection:
Start studying—here’s 10 things you should expect on your first day of college.
1. What exactly is Underwater Basket Weaving?
You’re going to take classes that have nothing to do with your major just because they are GPA boosters and everybody loves those. Everybody needs those. An easy A is nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Getting Sylly.
Syllabus week is practically your one week out of the semester to go buck wild and that will either make or break some students. Don’t fall for this trap. It’s called Syllabus week for a reason and not Syllabus semester. Your syllabus for each class will feel like a textbook alone. Don’t be a jerk either and have all your textbooks in pristine condition the first week. Wait it out and find out what you actually need and what you shouldn’t bother buying.
3. Friends with Benefits.
Get your mind out of the gutter, silly pants! Just giving you a heads up about the quirky professors you’ll encounter, if you’re lucky. Those types of teachers almost always make learning fun! Become friends with them because you never know when you may need a recommendation for something career-related later along the line.
4. The “perks.”
A lot of the tour guides on campus are students. Do not buy into their school spirit overload because that’s not how they truly feel. How about you go find these “perks” during midterm and finals week and see how uplifting their spirits are then? Now that’s real school spirit.
5. Different Types of People…
College is the best place to meet new people. They’ll give you a little insight on what’s out there in different parts of the world. Nina Chacko from Rutgers University said, “Talk to new people, because you never know who they’ll turn out to be in the future.”
6. Don’t Stress.
The first day, heck, the first year may seem overwhelming but you’ll get the hang of everything. Ultimately, we’re all in the same boat just trying to paddle by. Sophia Mathews from the University of Sciences in Philadelphia said, “It can be overwhelming but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be organized and manage your time wisely. College goes by fast so enjoy it while you can.”
7. Undeclared FTW!
Going into college as undeclared isn’t a bad thing. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, it’s okay. Career centers, counselors, and professors are there to guide you step by step in helping you find what’s right for you. There may be people around you who know exactly what they want, but remember nothing in life is ever certain. #justsayin’
8. It’s just a bigger high school.
“I had a really close knit friend group in high school so I was nervous about finding the same support system in college. If I were to give advice to incoming freshmen I’d say, ‘Don’t force friendships with roommates and classmates. Get involved and those relationships will form naturally,'” said Vinisha Patel from George Washington University. We couldn’t agree more with her.
9. You will have no idea where to go.
Seriously, you will get lost on campus. Make the best of your new surroundings by walking around and discovering places—just try not to look too frantic and walk and walk until you find your way back to your dorm.
10. Oh, and No one likes you.
Because no one knows you. Your first day jitters aren’t something only you experience. All that other confused and dazed fresh meat feels the same way. Overall, just have the “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” mentality. Sandy John from Arcadia University said, “Expect a completely different atmosphere. Your college years will either be the best years of your life, or the worst. Just depends on how you want to make it and that starts from day one.”
Still nervous? Check out 10 More First Day of College Tips so You Don’t Look Like a freshman.
11. Mommy is no longer your alarm clock
On the first day of high school, your mom put your socks on to keep your feet warm after she yanked you out of bed. You sluggishly dragged your feet across the room to look into the mirror and then throw your hair into a messy bun—but hey, at least your feet felt warm. Not the case in college. “You literally are your mom, dad and yourself all in one when you get to college,” said Austin College freshman Cecilia Dominguez. “You’re on your own with no one to tell you when and how to do things.”
12. Not showing up early guarantees you’ll be late
Do you commute? Prepare to search for parking. Take the bus? Catch an earlier route to make sure to give yourself buffer time. If you live off-campus, the hardest class you’ll take will involve finding a way to actually make it to the classroom. And if you live in a dorm, you still need time to find the building and then the right room. The less time you give yourself, the more likely you are to make a #firstdayfail.
13. You will make at least one embarrassing mistake…
Early bird gets the worm, right? “I’m sitting in the [classroom] on my phone waiting for everyone else to get there,” said Dominguez. “I’m about 10 minutes into being there and suddenly realize no one was there yet, so I check my schedule and totally has forgotten I only had that class Mondays and Wednesdays.” But when you show up to the wrong place, you only get flustered red cheeks and a sudden realization: You could have slept this whole time instead of stress.
14. But professors make mistakes, too, so it’s OK
Professors top their fields with prestigious publications and research labs that make industry headlines. Plus, their names often end with a Ph.D. With all that schooling, the first day of college semesters seem like a piece of cake, right? Not the case for Dominguez’s class—they waited over 10 minutes before finding out the professor forgot the new schedule. “Some guy started playing a Harry Potter movie on his laptop, sat at the desk, turned off the lights and showed it to us while another ran to the professors office two buildings down,” said Dominguez. “The professor had totally forgotten his class was at 11 and thought it was at 1:30.” Breaking news: Professors are actual human beings. They can and will make mistakes like you.
15. Downtime between classes actually exists
The rumors are true. You can schedule your classes literally whenever you want, leaving time for food, gym sessions and naps galore. “I was imagining what high school was like, having classes and being busy all day from 8 a.m.–3 p.m.,” said Austin College freshman Ally Longaker. “I constantly found myself with free time that I didn’t know what to do with.” Yes, you will have an abundance of free time on your first day of college, sometimes lasting through the entire first week. As the semester progresses, you’ll convert that nap time into cram time, flipping flashcards before exams or meal prepping to keep the freshman 15 away.
16. Showing up to sylly week is only half the battle
The first day of college is only a mirage. The next four (or more) years will not sail this smoothly, with classes ending early and short lectures that give you time for a long lunch. Before you know it, your days will pack tight with an English literature review, a Spanish oral exam, four psych worksheets and two club general body meetings. “Get your syllabi and a planner and start organizing/writing in the dates of future exams, quizzes and homework,” said Austin College freshman Bela Mahtabfar. “Looking at all of these assignments in one go can be a bit overwhelming. But just take it one week at a time.” Write down your due dates to keep track of your exams before it’s too late.
17. People are smarter (and dumber) than you
Consider yourself a teeny-tiny fish in the giant undergrad pool. No one cares if you gave the valedictorian speech at your high school graduation. The first day of college is a blank slate—you can show up looking like a slob to class and no one would know about your perfect 4.0 past. Nor does anyone care about that past. Someone in class will raise their hand faster to answer the calculus question. And the person next to you might resent the fact that you know the answer at all. Ditch the comparisons and strive for the best you.
18. RAs do more than bust you for noise complaints
RAs may act cheesier than sharp cheddar, but they cattle freshmen together into a room for a night of awkward encounters with good reason. “The night of my first day the RAs of all of the different dorms put on a sort of ‘party’ for all of us which brought us all together and made for a great way for us to meet people,” said Longaker. You need friends, right? Then give in to this good peer pressure and meet people in your building. And when your RA recognizes your face, they might ignore your next-door neighbor’s noise complaint on your birthday. Get on first name, phone number basis with your building mates and your RA so they can help you out when you forget your student ID card that lets you into the building.
19. A fully charged phone battery a day keeps the confused freshman face away
One wrong turn and you basically apparated to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The brick buildings all look the same—how will you ever find the psychology building? “Make sure your phone is operating fine, as Google maps really make our lives super easy in a new place,” said University of Cincinnati graduate student Nirmalya Thakur. Pro tip: Each building should have its own address. Make a list of the addresses for your classes’ buildings and you can sneakily plug it into your maps app to get the walking directions there. #winning
20. Freshmen need friends—so speak up and act social
Walking up to another clique’s table in ended your high school career. But guess what? Most people at your college don’t know if you were a Glee-obsessed theater kid or the star of the volleyball team. “Try to meet people in your classes or when you go to the cafeteria for lunch,” Longaker said. Take advantage of the ambiguity and make friends wherever you go. “Having someone to talk to, even if you don’t know them that well, takes away a lot of those nerves that come with the first day of college and with being in an entirely new place.”
Wear a cute t-shirt for your first day of college to break the ice.
*Updated July 19, 2017 with new media plus cute t-shirts to wear on the first day of college.
*Updated October 10, 2017 by Celina Pelaez to include first day of college tips 11-20.