Everything You Need to Know About the First Day of College

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Remember when you ate awkwardly alone on the first day of high school because you couldn’t find your friends? As horrific as that felt at the time, it won’t compare to the terror of showing up to class 15 minutes late because you mixed up the buildings. Yes, college is a whole new ball game, but never fear. Your first day won’t end up perfect, but at least you won’t want to drop out after just one class.

The First Day of College Pregame

1. Be Directionally Unchallenged

You could probably run your way from one end to your high school to the other in five minutes. In college, you can consider yourself lucky if you can travel from one building to another in 10. Plus the buildings all tend to look alike at first. Look at your schedule before classes start and map out your route. Find multiple routes to the buildings, check if the door is unlocked, and locate your classroom and bathrooms. When you see other freshmen panic on the first day, you can smile to yourself with satisfaction. You got this.

2. Dress Rehearsal

You’ll see that most people wear jeans and sweatshirts, nothing fancier than that. Even so, you should try on your perfect first day outfit beforehand. You’ll feel all kinds of anxious, and the last thing you need is to worry about your clothes. Make sure you feel comfy and confident in your chosen outfit. Most importantly, make sure it’s clean. Mom isn’t here to do your last-minute laundry load.

3. Read the Syllabus

You’ve probably heard this before, but you should treasure your syllabus with as much care as you use to handle your precious smart phone. That also means reading it, or at the very least skimming it before class. Who knows? It may tell you that you could easily gain some extra credit simply by showing up early on the first day. Probably not, but you never know.

4. Early bird catches the worm

Sad, but true. It’s tempting as hell to watch just one or seven more episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, but press pause on your favorite doctors. You don’t’ want to feel sleep deprived and groggy on the first day of your new adventure. Don’t forget to set your alarm either. Even if your classes don’t start till noon, aim to be in bed by 11 p.m. at the latest.

What Should I Bring to my first day of college?

Not the entire contents of your room, that’s for sure. Unless the professor explicitly tells you, don’t lug that thousand pound psych textbook to class. You can work on your biceps later at the gym. Instead, stick to the basics. You’ll want to bring a notebook, something to write with, a water bottle and a laptop if you prefer to type your notes. No, you don’t need that fancy six-pack of highlighters you picked up at Staples. You really don’t.

What actually happens in class?

That really depends. Some professors prefer to go over the syllabus and let students go, as if they can’t trust us to read it on our own. Others believe in our reading abilities and dive straight into lecturing. If your classes fall squarely into category one, consider yourself lucky. Either way, pay attention as if Channing Tatum’s standing shirtless before you. Your professor will likely go over the most important info, like how often you can skip without failing. Put down your phone and listen a little.

Where should I sit?

Here’s the thing—those freshmen lecture halls are 50 shades of huge. Remember that irritating seating chart in high school that prevented you from talking to your bae during that snooze-worthy calc class? Yeah, that’s just another one of those fond memories you’ll look back on because you get to choose where to sit in college. Now comes the hard decision. Sure, you’ll see better in the front row, but you run the risk of looking like an eager beaver. If your eyes suck as much as mine, you won’t see clearly if you sit in the back. Not to mention your short attention span will mean you’ll find yourself immersed in someone else’s Facebook stalking session. So you’ll want to aim for the front third section of the room. Pick a seat near the side of the row to beat the end of class stampede.

When’s lunch?

Part of calling yourself a grown-up means deciding when you want to eat. That sounds great, until you look at your back-to-back array of classes and realize you didn’t leave time for lunch. Feeling hangry sucks, especially when nerves zoom faster than that irritating fruit fly you’ve been trying to catch. If you’re that poor unfortunate soul with no gaps between classes, pack some easy snacks such as an apple or trail mix for the day. You’ll thank me later.

What happens if I get to class late?

I had a high school teacher who locked students out and yelled “No!” at anyone who dared to show up late. Extreme, am I right? Luckily, your professors will be way less dramatic. If you’re late, relax and remember that it happens. People will stare, but that’s life. Keep yourself calm and walk to the nearest seat. Don’t make a big fuss and no one will remember.

Worst 3 Mistakes You Can Make on Your First Day of College

1. Oversleeping

Without mom to wake you up, you might sleep through your alarm. The only thing worse than showing up late is not showing up at all, so if you have trouble dragging yourself out of bed, set at least two or three alarms. I’m not exaggerating—set as many alarms as you need to get yourself out that door.

2. Making a bad impression

Maybe you accidentally fell asleep in class or your professor caught you laughing at the results of a Buzzfeed quiz. Either way, she definitely hates you now. You’re going to fail, drop out of college and end up stuck in your parents’ basement forever, right? Before you start with the hysterics, read these two words: office hours. Show up, apologize and set things right. On the bright side, you don’t need to worry about the professor not knowing your name.

3. Showing up the wrong class

You woke up early, ate a good breakfast and figured out the best routes to your classes. Everything’s going well…until you open the door to an upper level seminar that’s definitely not your Intro to Biology lecture. Everyone’s staring and now you have five minutes to sprint three floors up to the correct room. Talk about embarrassing. Definitely make sure to read and reread your schedule and double-check the building and the room beforehand. If the worst comes true, stay calm, shut the door and walk as quickly as you can to your class. People expect freshmen to mess up on day one, so the world will not end over this.

Top 3 Twitter Handles to Scroll Through on your first day of college

1. Freshman Problems-@FreshmanProblem

Nobody gets the freshman struggle more than a fellow freshman. With funny tweets on the most relatable topics (such as how someone took the seat you sat in all semester), you’ll totally forget all about how nervous you feel about your first day of class. Pro tip: If you feel introverted that day, you can scroll through their tweets instead of awkwardly making small talk with the people around you.

2. Collegefession-@collegefession

Maybe you got super lost or accidentally tripped over a cute guy’s backpack. Either way, your first day was a complete disaster. But after reading some of these tweets, you’ll perk right back up because you’ll always find someone out there who had a worse day. I mean, you overslept and all but someone else accidentally liked a profile picture from four years ago. Yikes, am I right?

3. College Choice-@Collegechoice1

College Choice is designed to help students find their perfect school, but they also offer tons of tips. Did you know that students get 50 percent off Spotify Premium? With articles such as the books freshmen should read or the benefits of an engineering degree, College Choice will help your freshman year go smoother than your best dance moves.

Wear a cute t-shirt for your first day of college to break the ice.

kitty cone tshirt

hipster lion tshirt

i woke up like this tshirt

Need More First Day of College Tips?

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Been There Done That: 5 Mistakes Freshmen Make On the First Day

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School is Coming: How to Crush Your Fall Semester

Valerie is a senior at the University of Washington, studying English/Creative Writing and History. She loves anything caffeinated, Netflix and long road trips. She'll always be obsessed with Once Upon a Time, Scandal, Private Practice and Agents of Shield.

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