The Ultimate Guide to Freshman Year of College

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College: A place almost as magical as Disney World. It’s the land of wild, young adults just trying to make it without their parents but with a pocketful of student loans. If you’re a freshman, feeling a mix of excitement and extreme nerves is perfectly understandable. But there’s no need to hold onto your mom’s leg as she tries to leave you in your dorm room after move-in weekend. We here at College Magazine have been through it all. We’ve made the mistakes and learned the hard way so you don’t have to.

Basic Survival Rules

Be Independent

When you wake up on for your first day of college, no one will make sure you show up to class on time or even go at all. Dinner won’t sit on the table ready when you get home. And surely no one will tell you what time to go to sleep. You’re on your own, but don’t let that scare you, instead, get excited for your new found independence. The time has come for you to really experience what adulthood is all about, and you’ll feel awesome when you realize you can survive without mom and dad holding your hand.

You Don’t Need to Know It All

Not even graduating seniors really know what they’re doing with their lives after college, so don’t freak out if you change your major multiple times or add/drop a minor. College gives you time to figure out where your passion lays and discover your strengths. Does a class in turntablism sound cool to you? Then go ahead and sign up—I swear it’s a real thing at Oberlin College, and you get to DJ battle with your classmates. Or sign up for Introduction to Wines at Cornell University. The 21-year-old age requirement is lifted for this class. Sign me up, ASAP!

Random Roommates Aren’t The End Of The World

Living with a roommate freshman year can be either the best or worst experience of college. Your experience depends on how you approach the situation. If you’re considerate, cooperative and caring, then you should experience nothing but a smooth ride with your rando roommate. Of course, exceptions exist no matter how nice you treat someone, but remember your roommate might be the first person you meet in college. They can connect you to rest of campus and new friendships.

Is managing time in college really that difficult?

Time management certainly won’t come easy, but don’t lose sleep over not finishing everything on your to-do list for that day. In high school, teachers gave you syllabi at the beginning of the year, but you probably lost them by week two. In college, syllabi are precious pieces of gold that hold all the answers (but not to exams and quizzes). They tell you every due date for the entire semester, office hours (that you should totally take advantage of more than once) and important grading rules. With that said, keeping a to-do list helps you make the most of your days. You can easily see what meetings and events you have on top of homework and project deadlines.

Is making friends really different than it is in high school?

Yes, it is. For starters, high school is much smaller than college. Lecture classes in college are triple the size, and professors don’t assign seats. You can sit anywhere you want, but most of the time people sit with someone they already know or leave seats in between each other. So unless you’re extremely social and don’t mind sitting next to a stranger and striking up a conversation, take advantage of college’s many organizations and clubs to make friends. Whether the organization focuses on your major or a playing Quidditch, you’ll find your people.

Do I have the flu or am I homesick?

Even when you think you’re ready to leave the nest, you might still miss home, and that’s okay. Don’t feel embarrassed if you call your mom all the time because you still can’t figure out the different settings on the washing machine. Hell, I’m about to start junior year and just turned my white shirt blue. Avoid feeling like you need to visit home every weekend. During these four years, you’ll learn about yourself and see all you can accomplish on your own. Soon enough you’ll build your own family of friends and never want to leave the happiest place on Earth—and I’m not talking about Disney.

Can I avoid the freshman 15?

Definitely! People freak out about the notorious freshman 15, but don’t worry about what other people think of you. If you have a meal plan and constantly go to the dining hall, eating healthy might be difficult (why go to the salad bar when you can have an endless amount of ice cream?), but you can always maintain portion control. If you don’t eat at the dining hall, you’ll need to perfect the art of healthy grocery shopping and scheduling time to prep your meals. Oh, and don’t forget that your tuition and fees cover that state-of-the-art gym on your campus. So go ahead and hit the gym once a week if you find yourself becoming a stress eater.

Do college parties look like the movies?

Depends. College parties land on different scales, and of course some schools are more famous for their parties than others. One thing is for sure—don’t be surprised if you walk into a party and immediately smell weed or see multiple couples making out in corners of the room. The movies do portray the common stereotypes well, though. The typical fratty, douchebag guy who thinks he can get every girl at the party, the girl who works the room all night and that one person who’s always too hammered (don’t let that be you) will probably make an appearance at any college party. Just be sure to always have a buddy that you go and come home with.

Top 3 Points For Freshies to Remember

1. Don’t let freedom get to you

Just because Ladies’ Night happens every Wednesday, don’t think that you can get up for your 9:30 a.m. lecture on Thursday. Feeling hungover in class sucks and spending all day in bed recovering is worthless. Trust me, I’ve been there. Stay productive and mindful of the thousands of dollars you’re spending to earn that diploma.

2. You’re not alone

Hundreds of other freshman also feel the same emotions you do. If you really feel you need help, your campus offers ample resources and people to talk to.

3. College will be some of the best four years of your life

You’ve heard this cliché before, but it’s true. Despite that you’re still in school and have to be responsible every now and then, you get to experience living on your own. Ice cream for dinner is totally a thing, and no one can stop you.

Top 3 Twitter Accounts

1. @CollegeStudent

Whoever runs this account seriously reads the minds of college students everywhere. Every late night thought we’ve spent at the library or sitting in an awful lecture class gets tweeted through this account. @CollegeStudent tweets memes and witty one-liners that remind us we aren’t the only ones who feel or think a certain way.

2. @Tinatbh

@Tinatbh is based on the fictional character Tina Belcher from the adult cartoon show Bob’s Burgers. If you’ve never watched the show before, Tina is an awkward tween who’s basically the spirit animal of every college student across the nation. A few days ago she tweeted, “If I had a dollar for every time someone spelled my name wrong, I could pay for college, semester abroad, a new car and a mansion in cash.”

3. @_CollegeHumor_

Honestly, nothing beats wasting time scrolling through a Twitter account that accurately describes every emotion you’ve felt in college. We could all use reassurance that other people have similar thoughts to us.

Still feeling nervous about your freshman year?

The Truth About Freshman Year

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10 Things Your Freshman Year Will Teach You

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7 Helpful Answers to the Most Awkward Freshman Questions

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Jayna is a junior at The University of Florida studying journalism while earning a minor in innovation. She is undoubtedly a Swiftie and is always looking at cat photos on the internet. Her spare time is spent on Netflix or napping.

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