What to bring (and not to bring) to campus!

random words of wisdom to those incoming students who are scared

  • Everyone is in the same boat.
  • the first week of school, everyone is clamoring for some new  friends. The friends you make in the first week will, most likely, not be the friends you end up keeping. that’s okay. keep meeting new people and talk to people in your classes. 
  • don’t start dating someone until you’re settled. 
  • It’s okay to get food by yourself. The first time you go to the dining hall alone, you’ll feel like everyone thinks you’re a loser and feel really awkward, but eventually you will begin to LOVE sitting down with your laptop and a bowl of cocoa puffs with nobody to bother you.
  • you can go to the gym alone, too.
  • if someone asks you to do something or hang out, DO IT! I don’t care if you have social anxiety or don’t feel like going out. it’ll be fun. you’ll be glad you did.
  • you are going to be over packed. when you go to Target to get all your dorm stuff, they’re gonna give you a list. You need about 1/6th of those things. 
  • There is nothing wrong with having tons of blankets and pillows! 
  • freshman 15 is a very real thing. Even if you make it the whole semester without gaining a pound, you will lock yourself in your room and eat costco-sized boxes of bagel bites during finals. but its ok, you’ll work it off and look even better than before.
  • At orientation, you’re going to hear people tell you to join clubs CONSTANTLY. That’s because you should. You’ll meet awesome people who share the same interests as you, and even if you don’t become besties, its great to have a network.
  • School spirit is cool.
  • Don’t be afraid to go to parties, but use your common sense. Dont go to get drunk, go to have fun with friends!
  • Can’t decide if you want to join a sorority/fraternity? Go to a few recruitment events and see if you’re a fit. I went, decided it was right for me, now I am pledging to a Fraternity to be a part of a great group of guys. 
  • When you get your syllabi at the beginning of the year, most of your classes will have all the assignment dates listed. Invest in a planner and WRITE them down!
  • College is going to feel like summer camp for the first couple weeks, but eventually it’s going to just feel like home. Your friends become your family. Also, it may not always seem like it, but you’re responsible for your choices now. Know when to marry the night and when to go to bed early. Both are okay.
  • Your mom is going to cry when she drops you off. She will be okay. 
  • And I’ll say it again: everyone is in the same boat. You’re all freaked out, and you don’t have any reason to be. College IS NOT  like high school. People are, in general, kind and helpful. You will be okay.
  • Good luck!

50 College Secrets for Entering College Freshmen…..

Going into my sophomore year on Maryland’s Eastern Shore at Washington College, I thought it would be totally awesome to post my top 50 college secrets for entering college freshmen. Please feel free to inbox me if you have any college questions! Be sure to click FOLLOW for more college advice & experiences.

1) Oh yes, the ‘Freshman Fifteen’ does exist. So does the Freshman Twenty. Watch how many starches and processed foods you are going to eat.

2) Pizza - the ubiquitous college snack. You will soon find out. See #1.

3) If it’s either take out a loan or quit school, so take out a loan.

4) If you can live harmoniously with someone in a 20×20 ft. space, trust me, you can do anything.

5) Flip-flops: Wear them in the dorm shower. Always. 

6) Don’t be afraid to make friends on day 1 at freshmen orientation. True you will most likely not become best friends with everyone you encounter, but it is good to be around some people you know. Remember that every freshmen will be in the same boat you are in. Nervous about meeting you. No need to be afraid. 

7) If you are not a morning person, don’t schedule classes for 8:30am. Trust me, you will not go. Especially after a weekend of ‘productive activities’.

8) Get involved on campus. All work and no *productive* socializing is harmful to your college experience. Yes college is all about achieving your dreams and reaching that 4.0 GPA, however, the other half is having friends and a little fun every now and then on campus. If you really want a college experience, trying going Greek and rush a Fraternity/Sorority. I personally am a Brother of a fraternity and I can tell you, it was the BEST choice I ever made. There are many opportunities for going greek. (Stay tuned, I am going to write an entire blog post about going greek)  

9) Caution:: Too much socializing = bad grades. Everything in moderation. Learn the definition of “balance” & “responsibility”.

10) If you are feeling overwhelmed, are having problems sleeping, or have gone through a bad breakup, visit your college’s counseling center. If you are feeling suicidal at any point, talk to a close friend and or call your college’s crisis center number immediately. College is tough and challenging but please, remain sane, keep your head on straight.  

11) There are a lot of free activities on campus. Take advantage of them. Do you like FREE STUFF?! I sure the hell like free stuff! GO! HAVE FUN! MEET PEOPLE! GET FREE STUFF!! 

12) Many colleges have free tutoring centers on campus like writing centers or quantitative centers. Take advantage of them. After all, your tuition money does go to something.

13) This may seem a little corny, but sit near the front of class so you can hear everything the professor is saying. This is not high school where you play “shy” and sit in the back of the classroom. You have the one teacher for a semester NOT an entire year. Believe it or not, the professor will actually call you out more if you sit in the back of the room. Choose the front.

14) Attend the whole class. Even if you feel like you will just die if you sit there any longer. Even if you feel your brain start to ooze out the side of your ear. Because professors sometime give really important info at the end of class.

15) Recopy your notes after class. Or if you’ve typed them, do a quick read-through after class. It helps for when studying comes around. And if you do not understand something, write your question down and go see your professor during office hours. It will be worth it.

16) Remember that although you are 18, your college may have the right to contact your parents if you are caught drinking underage or any other mindless activity.

17) Don’t do anything stupid. It will go down on your permanent record. Seriously. At every college you apply to after this one.

18) Register for classes as early as possible. Early bird catches the worm and all that.

19) See how your first semester goes before you consider getting a job. See how heavy your course load is first.

20) Find a bank that also has branches in your hometown. Get your account connected to your parents’ account so they can transfer money to you.

21) Use direct deposit and automatic withdrawal for paychecks/loanchecks/ check checks. Less chance of you losing it.

22) Use virus protection and firewalls on your laptop.

23) The student bookstore (online and in real life) can have great student discounts on hardware/software.

24) Reconsider bringing a car to campus your first semester. It can be a pain to park and or fill up gas every other week. Better off with a bicycle or your very own two feet. Either way, its good exercise to burn off that Freshmen 15 or 20.

25) Pack the clothes you need for college, and then take half of that amount. No need to bring every single thing from your childhood bedroom. You will be back on the weekends and holidays etc.. and most of all, it will be so much easier when move-out day comes for the summer.

26) From my experience, the more underwear you have, the less you have to do laundry. and a little side note: Ask Mommy or Gammy how to fold your clothes. Honestly, I’m sure she will be more than happy to teach ya. Oh and be sure to ask about washing towels with bed sheets all together in the same wash the first go around. She’ll know exactly what it means.  

27) If you are doing laundry on campus or at a laundromat, STAY with your clothes. or at least time your wash so you can pick it up on time. Otherwise they just may walk off while you are gone.

28) I can’t emphasize this enough: INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO YOUR PROFESSORS AND GO TO THEIR OFFICE HOURS. This is so important, I’ll tell it to you again: INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO YOUR PROFESSORS AND GO TO THEIR OFFICE HOURS. Seriously, Professors are nice people. And they really like it when students are interested in their classes

29) Use the college’s career resource center - not just when you are going to graduate, but when you are figuring out what you want to do with your life. It’s a free service. Use the FREE services.

30) For the love of God, please, please don’y be afraid to make friends. Again, this is not high school. Everyone will be starting fresh and leave whatever happened in high school, in the past. College is a time to piratically reinvent yourself.

31) If you have a tendency to be messy, your roommate may be compulsively neat. The general rule is that the messier you are, the more neat your roommate will be. Try to pull it together. Especially regarding food. Always throw out leftover food. That’s just gross, messy or not. Learning how to adapt to someone else’s living style is a wonderful learning experience. Really. And if you complained about having to share a room with your siblings while you were growing up, when you get to college you learn that you are actually ahead of the curve. :)

32) Stay on campus on weekends. If you go home every weekend because you are homesick or have a girlfriend/boyfriend back home, you will be missing out on a lot of the college experience.

33) Get your flu shots. Yearly. Health Services are your best friend when it comes to illness. I am not sure how it is at other colleges but at my college, Health Services distribute these free little medicine bags with ‘goodies’ to take your headaches away haha!

34) Use condoms. Every time. I mean it. Once you get pregnant or get a girl pregnant due to unprotected sex, consider your life over. Wait for all that until you graduate from college and have a stable job to provide. 

35) Long-distance relationships are a challenge to keep up when you are away at school. 

36) If you get that “ick” feeling that you shouldn’t be doing something or shouldn’t be somewhere, stop doing it and get out of there.

37) You may feel like your parents are hovering too much. Look at it this way: they’ve been taking care of you since you were a baby. That doesn’t just stop. Cut them some slack. The more independent and wise decisions you make on your own, the more they will have confidence in your abilities as an adult. Please do not ever ignore or shut out your parents. Call them every once in a while. 10 out of 10 bet they will give you that one piece of advice to make you sane again. Trust me.

38) Just because you and your roommate were friends back home doesn’t mean you will be compatible roommates. You find out new things about people when you are sharing a small space. But you can work it out. Even if you and your roommate are total strangers and are completely different - you may become great friends.

39) If your roommate is doing something that bothers you, ask yourself the following three questions: 1) Am I being reasonable in being bothered by this? 2) What’s the best way to talk to my roommate about this? 3) What are some solutions to this issue? If all else fails and the issue is very important to you and you’ve talked to your roommate to no avail, talk to your Resident Assistant.

40) Practice safety. Don’t walk home alone in the dark. Walk with someone. Many campuses have services where you can call and someone will walk back to your dorm with you.

41) Just because you *can* do something doesn’t mean you should.

42) Use flashcards to quiz yourself when studying. And get someone else to quiz you with them. If you always quiz yourself with your own flashcards, you may skip over some that you don’t know the answer to.

43) You may not know what you want to do for a major. It’s okay. There are people much older than you that still aren’t sure what they want to do with their lives. That’s okay. See your academic adviser for help. Pay attention to which classes you really look forward to - that can be a clue as to what you might want to major in.

44) If you have a flex dollars/dining card/pass - do not treat all your friends to lunch and dinner. That is real money. Real money that you will be asking your parents for when it runs out.

45) Study groups can be helpful - but keep it to between 3 and 5 members (including you). More than that, and it turns into a social event.

46) If you have ADHD or a learning disability, apply for accommodations as soon as possible - even right after you find out you’ve been accepted to school.

47) Sleep. Get it. Get enough. You may be laughing at this, being a college student and all…but you need to get enough sleep.

48) Wash your hands. Often. Living in the dorms is a communal living experience. Germs love communal living.

49) Keep in touch with your friends from back home, but be open to meeting people of all different cultures and interests. This also means you must be open-minded about whoever you meet. You never know if that someone who you originally thought would be your worst enemy, winds up being your closet friend.

50) Enjoy your college experience - it’s one most rewarding experiences of your life, academically and socially. Remember it only comes once in a life time and don’t waste it.

And there you have it! You are well on your way! Good Luck!!!

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How to survive in college