Each year, millions of students take the plunge and head off to universities all across the country. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t terrified to head to my first year of college away from home. I would also be lying if I told you that my years in college were the easiest 4 years (and a quarter) of my life. I was lucky enough to attend Wright State University for both my undergraduate education as well as graduate school. During my time at Wright State, I changed my major about 3 times, cried a lot and met some of the best people I’ll ever know.
This year, I was given the opportunity to teach seniors in high school and they always had so many questions about going to college or what college life was like, so I figured I’d come back from my blogging hiatus and impart some wisdom (HA). I couldn’t settle on just 10 things to say about college, so my list includes 15. Whether you’re going in as a freshman or your returning this fall, I think that these pieces of advice could help. Enjoy!
- Coffee/Caffeine = Life
Lord knows, at this point in my life, I could never live my life without coffee. In college, I tried so many energy drinks that they’ll probably have a lasting effect on my body. There were so many nights I procrastinated and had to write a 10 page paper on something I didn’t research early enough and worked my ass off to get finished before the time the paper was due. I couldn’t have gotten through those nights without pots of coffee, Red Bull or Monster. This isn’t healthy, but it’s definitely a part of the college experience. I remember once, probably around my junior year, I had a huge portfolio due that I didn’t start until the night before and I just kept pouring coffee and drinking energy drinks. I finally turned in the assignment and didn’t get sleepy for about 48 hours. I do not recommend. Also, don’t procrastinate. SERIOUSLY.
- Sweatpants are Acceptable
I’m ALL about putting on make up and dressing cute, but after a while, that shit gets old in college. After about a week or so, you realize that no one really cares and that the majority of people going to class are in sweatpants, shorts, yoga pants or leggings. I remember packing all of these clothing items that weren’t practical for booking it to an 8:30 am class and as soon as I took my ass home for the weekend, I brought back all of the comfortable clothes I could find. Like I said, dressing up every now and then is good for the body and mind, but when you’re trying to wake up and make it to an early class, you’ll realize that “ain’t no body got time for that!”
As most people know, college is expensive as hell! Without FAFSA, there was no way I could have afforded to go. As soon as you and your parents get their W2’s login to FAFSA and get that stuff done! Most schools have a cut off for when you can get the most possible amount of aid, so check with your school. The website walks you through what you need to do, step by step and if you’re having trouble, there is always a number to call to get assistance. Also, don’t feel obligated to accept every cent from FAFSA, you can take some or all of it, depending on what you can pay out of pocket. Although, I’ll be paying off my student loans until I die, it was worth it because I got a great education.
- Get Your Books From ANYWHERE But the Campus Book Store
This is one thing I wish I would have known earlier in college. The bookstore charges SO MUCH for text books that you can easily find on Amazon, Chegg, or any of the others ones they have out there. The difference in pricing can be hundreds of dollars. As soon as you get your classes scheduled, look for what books the course requires and order them online! Sometimes, there are books that are only available at your university, but share them with a friend, pass them around, sell them to someone you know taking the class.
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
College is a great time to go out and do things you normally wouldn’t do. Go to a theater performance, go to art shows, go to step shows and comedy shows. My freshman year, I went to so many activities and met so many people and all of these things made going to college that much better. Students often get discounted tickets to events schools are holding like concerts or comedy shows. Go with the people on your floor, new friends, invite your friends from different schools to come. I typically kept to myself initially, but participating in some of the activities my campus held allowed me to meet so many people. I high recommend it! Even if you go to one event per semester, it’s worth it.
- Keep Your Door Open
Once again, when you have the opportunity to meet new people, DO IT! I was such an introvert (what a surprise, right?) when college started, but the first day, after I had everything moved in and I cried when my mom left, I propped my door open and met everyone from my floor. People like to stop by and see how you’ve decorated your room or to say a quick hello and introduce themselves. It’s pretty awesome in the first week or so. My freshman year, almost everyone on our floor became friends and they are still people I’m friends with (whether on social media or otherwise). The group of people on my floor did a lot together that year and they opened me up to experiences I wouldn’t have been able to have had I kept my door closed and stuck with myself. You might not become best friends, but you’ll meet people who can relate to being homesick or how many papers you have to write.
- It Goes By Quick
It may not seem like it at the time, but the years that you’re in college will go by so quickly. I look back at my college experience and wonder where the time went. My advice would be to take your time, take it all in, have a good time, but focus on your priorities. You’re going to blink and it’ll all be gone and then you’ll have a career, and no time to have unrestricted fun (for the most part). In between papers, and exams and your lack of sleep, remember to take in those small moments like walking back to your dorm in the snow or eating at the dining hall with your friends. You’ll miss it.
- Call Your Parents
When I left for college, I was only 45 minutes away from home, but my mom and I were so close, it felt like I was all the way across the country. My mom allowed me to set the tone for how many time we talked. I know a lot of people may not talk to their parents multiple times a day or at all, but checking in with at least one person from home regularly really helps. I typically called my mom when I was walking to class, between classes and right before bed. There were times I would call her at 3 in the morning because I, once again, procrastinated and didn’t know how to start a paper and I would hear her sit up, put her glasses on and help me. I cherish some of these memories the most because I know I wouldn’t have made it, especially freshman year, without her. So, even if it’s a quick call between classes or a text letting them know you’re alive, your parents will appreciate it.
- Take Advantage of Any and ALL Discounts
While at times you’ll feel like you and your friends are the only ones who understand the college struggle of having no money, there are businesses out there that are willing to help! From clothing, to bookstores, to, most importantly, food, there are so many options out there to help college students save some money. Some of my favorite discounts include:
Amazon Prime for Students: Students get free 2 day shipping for six months as well as some other cool perks; click here.
Sam’s Club for College Students: I’m not sure how discounted the membership is, but it’s worth checking out; click here.
Apple: Lots of discounts here!
and, of course, the movies! For a full list (I’m sure there are more out there), click HERE!At Wright State, the technology department also had discounts on software, so check yours too!
- Find At Least 1 Friend in All of Your Classes
Kind of piggybacking off of keeping your door open and getting out of your comfort zone, make sure you make friends with AT LEAST one person in each of your classes. They will be some of the biggest supports you’ll have, especially on days when you’re sick or days when you can’t muster up the strength to get out of bed. Befriending someone in each of your classes also gives you someone to bounce ideas off of for papers, someone you can bitch about your professor with or someone who can offer you a laugh in the middle of a class you don’t think you can sit another minute through.
- When Emailing a Professor, Type Like an Educated Human
I cannot stress this enough, when email your professors or TA’s, email them like you have common sense. They don’t want emails in broken English, with emoji’s or any kind if slang, no matter how cool they seem. One thing to remember is that professors have hundreds of students who may have questions, sometimes they get snippy with you, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. They may email you back one word replies or not at all, but you have to be persistent and try to get them before or after class. Respect goes a long way when talking with your professors or TAs.
- TAKE NAPS
Maaaaaaan, if there is one thing you HAVE to take away from this blog post, TAKE NAPS! Whether you take them between classes, after a day of classes, you have to take the opportunity to take a nap, even if only for 20 minutes. Sleep is your friend and most nights, you will not get enough. After you graduate from college, naps are fleeting, so do yourself a favor and take them when you can! Also, if you’re living in a dorm, put a note on there that says you’re napping so people don’t wake you up… you’ll thank me later.
- Try to Avoid Friday Classes
Your first year of college might be a little tough when it comes to avoiding Friday classes, but when you get the chance to have some options in when to take classes, try your best not to have classes on Fridays, even if that means longer days on Mondays or Wednesdays. It’s the best feeling in the world waking up on a Friday and realizing that you don’t have to go to a class, especially if you want to go home that weekend. If you absolutely have to have a class on a Friday, schedule them so that they’re in the morning so you aren’t one of the only people left on campus at 3 in the afternoon. It’s not a good time.
- Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help
I can’t emphasize this enough. There is so much help out there if you’re struggling with a class. There are tutor centers in every college, your professors and TAs are there to help, you have classmates, and if you’re lucky, you have some of your old high school teachers. There is no reason to struggle your way through a class because there are so many resources out there available to students. There will be so many days that you feel alone or feel like there isn’t anyone out there who will understand, but there are. Don’t feel stupid asking for help, that’s probably the smartest thing you can do.
- Don’t Bullshit Your Way Through
If you’re still reading this, kudos to you! My final point, is probably one of the most important. While I think it’s important to master the art of bullshitting, college is not a place to just get through. If you’re spending thousands of dollars for an education, take the time to learn. I learned so many things from my general education classes and even more from the classes dealing with my major. Of course there are boring classes and boring professors, but that’s everyone’s college experience. You’ll learn some of the best information from the most unlikely sources.
Ahhhh, thanks for reading! College was the best time of my life and I wish I could be a forever student. I absolutely love going to classes and learning as much as I can about my field.
I hope that if you’re heading to college, you got something from some or all of these suggestions. If you’ve already gone through college, comment below some of your advice for students taking the plunge into higher education!