50 college tips for freshmen

A few of my friends are nervous about starting school this upcoming year, and they asked me if I had any tips. After taking some time to think through my freshman year carefully, I came up with these 50 suggestions to help you make the most of college, both socially and academically:

  1. Keep an open mind to different lifestyles and viewpoints. People in college come from all different walks of life, don’t rule them out just because their hobbies and views are different than yours. Make friends of all different types.
  2. Live the way you want to. If you want to have Nerf gun fights in your dorm hallway, then do it! You live away from home now, and it’s up to you to dictate how you want to live. Go to bed when you want to. Get up at a time that works best. This extends to everything — including your academics.
  3. Take a few chances. College is the time to branch out and discover yourself. Take a few risks, do things that you normally wouldn’t, and watch as you have the time of your life.
  4. Adopt a ‘Yes Man‘ attitude. Start accepting opportunities as they come to you instead of making excuses not to do something. You’ll be amazed at how much more interesting your life will become.
  5. Don’t spend all of your free time alone in your room. Solitude is nice, but you’ll love college a lot more if you don’t spend all day watching TV or surfing the Internet. Keep yourself busy.
  6. Explore your hobbies and try new ones. Find clubs and teams for hobbies and sports you enjoy and get involved.
  7. Take care of any problems head-on. Don’t be passive-aggressive — it’s time to grow up. If somebody’s bugging you, talk to them about it directly. College is the time to grow a spine.
  8. Keep in touch with your old friends. But only the friends you want to keep in touch with! Give your old friends an occasional call to see how everything is going.
  9. Don’t be afraid to switch friends. College is the time to make all kinds of different friends. Spend the most time with the ones you want to spend the most time with.
  10. College will still have drama. You didn’t escape it when you left high school, unfortunately. Don’t be any more involved with drama than you want to.
  11. Learn all about your school. Find out its history and the origin of traditions. Learn about the area around the school and its history. Discover what programs your school has to offer and what it excels in. Find out what cool achievements and influential people have come from your university.
  12. Make friends early on. The first couple of weeks of school are the easiest time to make friends. Take advantage of this to meet people and put yourself out there.
  13. Don’t go home for the first couple of weekends. Don’t go home just because it’s comfortable and familiar — establishing yourself at college first is definitely worth it and will help you adapt much faster.
  14. Leave your dorm room door open when you’re there. This is a great way to encourage people on your floor to stop in and chat for a bit. When everyone on a floor does this, a sense of community develops pretty quickly.
  15. You don’t have to join a fraternity or a sorority. If that’s what you want, go for it, but you can still have plenty of friends if you’re not a part of Greek life.
  16. Remember people’s names. Pay attention to somebody’s name and what they tell you. Friendships can form with anybody, and if you remember little tidbits about each person, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to make friends.
  17. “Cs get Degrees” is a bad philosophy. C’s are not an ‘average’ grade in college. Aim for A’s and B’s if you want to look good.
  18. Don’t miss more class than you can help. You’re paying to go to college, and every time you miss class is like taking a lighter to a $20 bill. The amount of information you can miss in just one absence is amazing.
  19. Do not procrastinate. College work takes a lot more time than high school work, and you will end up struggling all night to finish a paper because you put it off too long.
  20. Do all of the readings and homework. Homework and readings are to help you. Even if they don’t make up a large part of your grade, you’ll understand the material far better.
  21. Pay attention in class. Professors will go into a lot of detail, and all of it is fair game for tests. Many times they’ll even give strong hints as to what to expect, and if you’re zoning out, you’ll miss all of it.
  22. Taking notes keeps you focused. Even if you never look at them again, the act of note-taking will keep you awake, focused, and help you learn.
  23. Sit up front to pay attention. Sitting in the back will make it a lot easier to zone out. Sit up front and you’ll absorb far more information.
  24. Read the syllabus for every class. Some professors will put assignments on the syllabus and never talk about them in class — the last thing you want to find out is that you just lost 30% of your grade because you didn’t read the syllabus. Plus, the syllabus will usually say when the midterm(s) and final are.
  25. Take advantage of office hours and discussion sections. Especially before big tests. Anytime you have questions or are even a little bit shaky, go in and have somebody explain it to you.
  26. Make friends with your professors. When it comes time to ask for letters of recommendation, a professor that you’re on great terms with will write a much better letter than one who barely knows you. Plus, some professors might give a slight boost to your grade just because they like you.
  27. Only copy notes. Colleges punish cheating very severely. Never copy tests, homework, essays, etc.
  28. Don’t buy books from the school bookstore. Hunt around online to find the book for cheaper prices. Textbooks are expensive, and you can literally save hundreds of dollars each semester if you take the time to look around.
  29. Find your classes before the first day. Even if you think you know where the class is, you can still get lost. Showing up late is never good.
  30. RateMyProfessor.com is generally accurate. Professors with lots of good scores are always good, professors with a ton of bad scores are usually bad, and professors in between are usually still pretty decent.
  31. Don’t be afraid to change majors. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a field you hate. Change majors if your interests are no longer what they were.
  32. Take some classes that interest you. College is for earning a degree, but you can also learn a bit more about other interests you have, no matter how unrelated to your major they are.
  33. Call your mom now and then. Thank her for paying your bills and keep her up to date on what you’ve been up to. It will mean a lot to her.
  34. Take plenty of pictures. Pictures will give you something to look back on to reminisce about college.
  35. Keep your dorm clean. Guys, this is for us. Women will like hanging around your place a lot more if you keep it clean.
  36. Wash your sheets and towels now and then. If it smells, wash it.
  37. Don’t let a long distance relationship dictate your life. There’s nothing wrong with being in a long distance relationship, but don’t plan your college life around it. Most distance relationships do end, and if you wasted your year revolving your life around it, you’ll regret it. Learn to balance your relationship and your college life, and expect your partner to be understanding.
  38. Date around, but don’t get involved in a serious relationship too early. It’s tempting to rush into a new relationship, but these can backfire and cause a bunch of drama. Definitely get to know a lot of people, but don’t jump right into a relationship in the first couple of weeks.
  39. Be tolerant of smoke. It’s fine if you don’t like smoking, but many people in college do smoke cigarettes. Some of the best conversations you’ll ever have will be during a cigarette break, and being judgmental will make sure that you miss them.
  40. Learn how to keep track of how much you drink. Develop a good sense for how much you need to get drunk, but not enough to throw up or to black out. Getting tipsy is always fun, but you’ll cause a lot of trouble if you can’t drink responsibly.
  41. Chip in or supply alcohol. Don’t be a mooch, chip in your share or offer to provide now and then.
  42. If you don’t want to get caught, keep quiet. If you’re drinking in your dorm, keep it down. The only reason people get caught is because they’re loud.
  43. Try to eat well. The freshman 15 can happen to anybody who eats bad. Try your best to eat a bit healthy — junk food from the dining hall isn’t that good anyway.
  44. Go to the gym now and then. It’s not often in life you’ll have such cheap and convenient access to a gym. Make the most of it — an active lifestyle will help you look and feel great.
  45. Orange juice is better than coffee in the morning. Orange juice will wake you up just as well, and it’s more healthy!
  46. Do laundry at off-hours. Everyone does laundry midday on the weekends. Do laundry in the early morning or really late at night if you definitely want a machine.
  47. Bring postage stamps. NO ONE ever has postage stamps, and when you want to send a letter/postcard, you’re going to be screwed if you didn’t bring any.
  48. Wear sandals in the shower. You do NOT want any weird foot fungus, do you?
  49. Coed bathrooms aren’t a big deal. They definitely sound awkward and intimidating, but after a day or two, you get used to it.
  50. Be grateful and proud for where you are. Be proud of your school, and be grateful that you’re fortunate enough to attend college. Make the most out of your years.