Your Master Guide on Going Back to School

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If school is Hell, then returning after a nice, long summer break must be the ultimate torture, but it doesn’t have to be. This year will be the one where you finally do everything: get the best grades you can, land that stellar internship, find the person of your dreams. Or something like that. Even if this is just the year of “I didn’t mess up too badly,” that’s still something to look forward to. Either way, get hyped because school’s coming at you whether you’re ready or not.

Returning to the Unknown

It’s the Same as Last Year…

…while at the same time being completely different. You are coming back to the same school, the same clubs and many of the same friends, but you’re at a new place with new rules and new roommates. Your living dynamic is all turned around. Still, that is ok! It might give you new opportunities that you didn’t even realized existed. Just remember, change is good. Isn’t that why you came up to college in the first place?

Learning How to Live Alone

This is a tricky topic and no one teaches you how to be an adult (Even though “Adulting 101” really needs to be a mandatory gen-ed.). We have to figure out how everything from cooking slightly-edible food to paying our own bills and taxes. And if you blow your grocery budget, you’re stuck with rice and beans for the rest of the semester (been there, done that). It may seem like a lot of pressure, but everyone is going through the same problems and you can overcome them too.

New Year, New Friends

Unless you are part of Greek life and live with your sisters and brothers every year, your friend group will most likely change and evolve. It is college and we are learning about ourselves as much as the subjects we study. Friendships are organic and can’t be forced. Realize that these shifts are not personal, so don’t be offended or hold a grudge, and don’t close yourself off from new friends entering your friend group. There are a lot of interesting people out there and you don’t want to lose the chance to make a cool new friend.

Q: I just moved out of a dorm. How can I make friends in a real apartment building?

The exact same way you made friends before! Just talk to people. You can meet people at the pool, at the mailroom or just walking around. You can even try knocking on doors and introducing yourself to the neighbors (This tip is primarily for student apartments. Please use common sense.).

Q: I have randomly-assigned roommates. Should I try to get close to them?

This is a definite maybe. There are many factors that go into a friendship, but convenience is a big one. Still, nothing is definite. Be civil with your roommates and see if a friendship grows from there. If your roomies are as lost as you are, grab a bite to eat together and just chat. You are going to be living there for a looooong time, so getting to know them pays off.

Q: How do I pay my rent and utilities at my apartment?

It varies per building. Some places include certain utilities in the rent, others only collect the rent and the city bills you directly for electricity and water. If you live at a place that randomly assigns roommates, sometimes they will automatically evenly divide the utilities bill between the roommates. Check your contract, read all the fine print or just ask the employees at your leasing office—you will find the answer.

Q: What is the first thing I should do after moving in?

Find the nearest grocery store and pharmacy. These two stops will have all of the bear necessities, from canned beans, rice and ramen (we are college students, after all) to all the condoms you could ever need (we are college students, after all). Once you find your grocery store, you can start clipping branch-specific coupons to save a few extra dollars.

Q: Should I get a pet?

Sure, but make sure you can take care of it! If you plan on taking classes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., I would stick with a low-maintenance pet, like a fish or hamster. Before you get a larger animal, check your building’s pet policy to see if you have to put down a pet deposit or if pets are even allowed. The last thing you want is to bring home Fido and find an eviction notice on your door the next day. And I know that puppy looks really cute, but know that baby animals take even more time and energy (and dollar bills) to take care of, so think about adopting an older, house-trained pooch.

Top 3 Things to Pack

1. A Mattress Cover

If your apartment comes pre-furnished, you are stuck with that absolutely disgusting hunk of springs and fuzz on your bed frame that barely passes for a mattress. A mattress cover does triple duty. It shields you from all the gross stuff that has been hiding on that mattress since ’92, provides bed bug protection and it adds an extra layer of comfort to the otherwise lumpy piece of disgustingness your apartment calls a mattress.

2. Duct Tape

This is not just for dorms; duct tape is a basic life necessity. I lost my wallet. Those middle school skills and a roll of duct tape sure come in handy when making a replacement. Oh no, my backpack is falling apart! Bam! Duct tape. Oh no, my grades are falling apart! Well, duct tape can’t help you here, but it can hold together your coffin after your parents find out.

3. Decorations

Put up paintings, Fatheads, movie posters or your cuckoo clock collection. It doesn’t matter as long as something is on the walls. Litter your desk with photos, bobble heads, trophies, whatever. Nothing is more depressing than coming home every day to a boring house. If you liven it up a little bit and make it feel like home, it will put a little pep in your step.

Check out these Top Backpacks for College to make your packing a little easier.

Top 3 Twitter Accounts to Follow

1. @CollegeTips

@CollegeTips’ motto is “Helping you get through school,” and help they do. With advice that spans from life hacks to essay shortcuts to general life advice, this expert tip-giving channel is a must follow.

2. @CollegeStudent

@CollegeStudent puts into words what every college student feels inher  soul. This is a witty channel and, even if it will not change your life, it will brighten up your day.

3. @AmazonStudent

We all have that one friend that we don’t really like, but hang out with anyway because he buys drinks. @AmazonStudent is the Twitter version of that friend. Some of its posts are worth a chuckle, and the constant stream of free stuff and Amazon discounts makes it a worthy follow.

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Max is a freshman at FSU, a kid's book author, and has no idea what he wants to do with his life! His passion for useless information is only rivaled by his love of The Far Side comics.

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