Going into college a year ago, I didn’t know what to expect. Now, I’m a year older and a lot (okay, maybe just a little) wiser. Lately I’ve seen a lot of dorm and college-themed articles, so I decided to throw my two cents in; here's your (Drum roll, please) official, JakeAndAmirFTWolf-approved guide to college.
What you should bring:
The basics: clothes (for all seasons; if you’re at a college far away, expect random weather), a computer (laptops are best), cell phone, clock, desk lamp, fan, detergent, a fridge, backpack, and standard office supplies.
- Rugs. I’m a big fan of them, and for good reason. Dorm floors are terrible!
- Extra chairs or a futon/sofa...but check the room layout first to be sure it fits.
- Air fresheners
- Freezer/Microwave/Toaster/Coffee Maker. Check the school website first; some colleges have rules against toasters or other appliances.
- An umbrella that you can carry in your backpack. Trust me, you don’t want to walk across campus in the pouring rain with nothing.
- Textbooks. This is an obvious thing, but look for them cheap on the Internet first and get them from the school bookstore as a last resort.
- TV. Most colleges will probably have free cable, but check with your roommate so you don’t both bring one. That goes for fridges, freezers, and microwaves too.
- A Printer. Most colleges will have ones in the library, but going over there just to print off one page is time-consuming.
- Some dressy clothes. These are a must have. There’ll probably be a job fair, which means interviews, and at least one formal campus-wide dance.
- Stuff to remind you of home, like photos, a scrapbook, seashells, or whatever. At the very least these will add some individualized flavor to your part of the room; at the most they'll be a homesickness cure.
Now that that’s covered, here’s a brief overview of college life:
The Arrival. It’s the first day, your parents have left, and the realization has just hit you that you know a grand total of zero people there. Well, you’re in the same boat has every other freshman, ever. Meeting people in college is easy—what do you think orientation is for? And after that, there’ll be clubs, classes, games, concerts, parties, plus your roommate/s, the other people on your floor, and people you’ll meet in the dining halls. Just be yourself and you’ll quickly find other people like you. And, college, unlike high school, doesn’t have a social hierarchy of cliques—in my limited, Division 3 experience, all social groups are about equal, and everyone has friends from every group, so the social web is a convoluted, 3-dimensional mess, not a ladder of coolness.
Academics. College, sadly, still counts as school, which means you still have exams and quizzes, but required homework is pretty rare. The burden’s on you now to keep up with the readings, but if it’s an easy class you can get away with not doing it. The good thing, though, is that unless you plan on going into a prestigious, Ivy League grad school, your college grades don’t matter too much. Once you get into the workforce, there won’t be much difference between someone who graduated with honors, someone who’s summa cum laude, and someone with a standard diploma. I don’t even know what summa cum laude means. (Please note I’m a freshman, not a job-seeking graduate.) The point is, most of you won't need fantastic grades for some post-grad education. You may have to maintain a certain GPA to keep your scholarship, but don’t feel the need to keep a 4.0 all four years. Disclaimer—this is my personal, slacker-esque view on academics; if you disagree, go ahead and ignore me.
Drinking/HND/Drugs. The collegiate trifecta of parental dread: all three of these happen in college, though not as much as you might think. Before I go on, a confession: I am a moderate underage drinker (cue comment firestorm). So, my advice for these three: if you want to do it, go ahead, but make sure you're being responsible (know the signs of addiction and don't binge) and that you're doing it because you want to, not because your friends/SO/anyone-but-you tells you to. Also be aware of the potential legal consequences—most campuses will give you a slap on the wrist for drinking, but drug possession could land you in serious legal trouble. And if you don't want to do any/all of these three, that's fine as well. There will be other people in college with similar views (and maybe even clubs devoted to them); just don’t push your views on other people. And for goodness sake, if you're going to HND, use protection and make sure it's right for you and your partner!
That about covers it, in the briefest way possible. If you want more advice, there are plenty of full-length books about the transition to college. If nothing else, college is a time to become your own person—you’ll be on your own, free of (most) parental rules, and you’ll be able to do almost anything you want...but don’t go overboard. I went into my first year a Catholic, mostly conservative, undecided major, and non-drinker. I came out of it an atheist, strongly liberal, determined journalist, and fond of quality bourbon. Who are you now, and how will your freshman experience change you? Only you can know that…a year from now.
Post by one of your favorite Mankler NBKers, JakeandAmirFTW!
Are you ready for college?