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Friday, July 24, 2015

50 Things I Learned My Freshman Year of College

(If you haven't heard what's going on around here yet, click here.)

I recently finished my freshman year of college, and I already can't wait to go back for another year of cool writing assignments, dorm shenanigans, and whatever else might happen.  I learned so much in my classes, but I also learned in my day-to-day life.  For any of you that are soon-to-be college students (or are already there), here are 50 things to know:

  1. Invest in a good planner/study app.  I use the paid version of iStudiez Pro.  It cost me $2.99, but it keeps track of everything from grades to schedules to assignments to professors' office hours, and it syncs across all my devices.  It's the best app I've ever bought.
  2. People tell you, "Go to your professors' office hours!"  This is true.  Go to them, if you feel a need.  But you won't feel a need to go to every professor's office hours.  Sometimes, you'll have a professor that just isn't approachable, or you just plain don't need help in their class.  This is okay.
  3. If you have a question, ask your professor.  Email them.  Don't be shy about it.  Remember that it's their job to help you and answer your questions, so you don't have to feel like you're bothering them.
  4. While we're talking about professors...professors are people, too.  While this seems obvious, it can be hard to remember, but somehow this seems more relevant in college than in high school.  A few friends and I bonded with an English professor over a discussion of A Song of Ice and Fire and Hannibal once.  
  5. Don't wait until you have a large block of time to start homework.  If you have 15 minutes until you have to leave for your next class, don't sit there and say, "Well, I can't do anything, since I only have 15 minutes."  Learn to use those small spaces of time.  Think of it this way: if you have four slots of only 15 minutes, that's an entire hour of homework done.  (Also, there will be weird things happening, which means you might have more time than you thought.  Once, a friend was going to meet me at my room in ten minutes, but he got delayed and didn't show up until forty-five minutes later, and I was really glad I hadn't put off homework because I only had ten minutes.) 
  6. Never buy textbooks from your school bookstore unless you absolutely have to. is a lifesaver.  
  7. If by some miracle you get the chance, READ AHEAD.  You will thank yourself for it later.
  8. Just wash all of your clothes in cold water.  It's easier that way.
  9. Don't reheat pizza on a plastic plate in the microwave when there are prospective students touring your room.  Just...don't do it.  (My friend and future roommate was hanging out and we wanted dinner, but she left it in a bit too long and the plate started melting.  Yes, prospies, dorm rooms always smell like burning plastic!  Everything's fine!  Come to this college for more safe cooking experiences!)
  10. If buying that three-foot-tall Captain America poster for your dorm is what makes you happy, then buy that three-foot-tall Captain America poster.  
  11. There is a secret study spot that is both comfy and conducive to productivity.  You just have to find it.  At my school, there's a corner table on the third floor of the student center, in front of a big window that overlooks the main quad.  It's close enough to the coffee place that it smells nice (and I can get a chai latte if I want) but far enough that it's quiet, especially with headphones.  Height + isolated corner + nice smells = place for Annie to study.
  12. The people you hang out with during the first week or so probably won't be the people who become your lasting friends.  This is okay.  You basically bond with anyone nearby during welcome week and cling to them, but just give it some time and you'll find people with similar interests.
  13. If you hang out on the quad long enough, you're almost guaranteed to witness something interesting/weird/baffling/funny.
  14. If you're religious, it's the second weekend that makes or breaks your church habit.  We noticed that a huge number of people went to mass the first weekend, sometimes out of nothing but peer pressure and lack of anything else to do.  And only half those people showed up the second week.  Our observation was that the people who went the second week were generally the people who came back week after week; everyone else was done for the rest of the year. 
  15. Nobody really judges you for anything you do on campus.  Really.  We're all in the same situation here.  (I could tell several stories to prove my point, but here's the best example: my boyfriend was walking back to his dorm at night during finals week, and took a shortcut through the gym.  He stopped in the bathroom and tripped over something, and immediately the lights went out.  At this point, he completely lost it, just sitting on a bathroom floor, no lights, laughing uncontrollably.  Another guy walked in, took one look at him, said, "Finals are a b*tch, right?" and walked out without another word.) 
  16. If you're in some type of learning community or honors program, go to their initial events.  I'm in an honors program and was hesitant to attend the freshman retreat, but it ended up being a complete (and largely unsupervised) nerdfest, and I met so many cool people that are like me.  
  17. Vacuum your room on a regular basis.  Gross-feeling room = gross-feeling you.
  18. The best way to get an on-campus job is to go right up to the place you want to work and ask if they have an opening.  Pay attention to job listings, but keep in mind that many jobs go unlisted.  People ask me how I scored such a great job (I work the front desk of a gym, which means that I get paid to do homework and swipe the occasional ID card), and all I did was simply ask.
  19. Christmas lights make everything better.  Be that person with year-round Christmas lights in your dorm.
  20. Let yourself be spontaneous.  Allow yourself to be talked into random things like watching this cinematic masterpiece on a Monday night when a bunch of homework is due.
  21. Since you're here, it's a safe assumption that you're a writer.  In that case, start keeping a journal, if you don't already.  You'll learn so many things about yourself in your freshman year, and it's so helpful to document it and have a place to figure things out.
  22. It's interesting (and terrifying) to be thrown into a huge mass of people that you've never met, but the advantage of this is that there is bound to be someone that laughs at the same dumb things you do and has the same weird interests that you do.  
  23. Nothing brings a class together like that moment when the professor everyone dislikes hands out course evaluations and then leaves the room.
  24. Show up unexpectedly at your friends' doors with smoothies/cupcakes/chocolate/whatever.
  25. If you ever need help finding anything on campus, just do your best to look slightly lost.  Walk up to an upperclassman and inform them, "I'm a freshman and I have no idea what I'm doing," and they'll get you where you need to go.
  26. Sometimes, you just need to blast 'Eye of the Tiger' to get that essay done.
  27. Do weird things with your friends.  Eat frosting out of a tub at midnight.  Take a picnic blanket to the dining hall and eat on the floor.  Play in the snow like you're five years old.
  28. A dozen different people will tell you fifteen different things about how you should study, when you should study, how not to study, etc.  Listen to them, but also figure out what works for you.  Experiment with different places, music/no music, people/no people, and see what makes you productive.  Stick with this, regardless of what scientific advice people try to give you.
  29. Most Pokemon movies are on YouTube in their entirety.  Pokemon 2000. BOOM.  Pokemon: The First Movie.  BOOM. Jirachi: Wish Maker.  BOOM.
  30. Make yourself a four-year course plan as soon as possible.  Whip out that Excel spreadsheet.  Color-code things.
  31. There's probably someone smoking marijuana on your floor.
  32. Stacks of plastic drawers double as 1) TV stands 2) portable tables 3) portable desks 4) you know, actual drawers.
  33. Study abroad and see cool things.
  34. Some people will tell you that nobody wears anything but sweatpants and hoodies to class.  Others will say that everyone dresses nicely, even for 8ams.  In reality, some people wear sweatpants.  Some people, myself included, dress nicely (I can't take things seriously if I feel like I'm wearing pajamas).  Everyone wears what they want, and nobody cares what you're wearing.  So do what makes you happy.
  35. There are no assigned seats in college.  That being said, if you've been sitting in the same spot for a week, that is Your Spot.  Any other spot is Not Your Spot, and you will annoy several people if you move.  Nobody's telling you that you can't move, but doing so will earn you dirty looks.
  36. If someone tells you, "You can't cook that in a microwave!", they haven't tried hard enough. 
  37. If you get someone's phone number, make sure you get their last name at the same time.  For some reason, it's hard to learn people's last names in college, and if you get it when you first know them, you have it forever and won't have to awkwardly ask when you've known them for five months.
  38. Taking notes is much more fun with a cool pen.  (Get yourself a fountain pen and feel the magic.)
  39. Take some time to explore your classroom buildings before classes actually start.  If you find your classrooms ahead of time, you won't have to worry about being late the first day because you were lost.
  40. People tell you to always sit in the front row in college classes.  Reality: sit wherever you want.  If you find being in back distracting, don't do it.  If you feel like you don't have enough personal space between you and the professor when you're in front, don't do it.  It doesn't actually matter where you sit.  There's nothing magical about the front row that gives you higher scores.
  41. Drink plenty of water.  Drink more water than you think you need.  It's incredibly effective at waking you up in the morning, it can help you sleep, it keeps you alert during class, it helps you function throughout the day, it helps regulate your weight...and that's just the beginning.
  42. If you take notes on your laptop using Microsoft OneNote, you can sign up for a free Microsoft account, which means you can sync your class notes to your phone (Android, too)...and iPod...and iPad...and probably your toaster and minifridge as well.  This is incredibly convenient.
  43. While we're talking about apps, this app/website lets you make free flash cards, which is awesome for studying.
  44. The only difference between you and the prospies (prospective students) is a year or two.
  45. The stereotype is that you can spot a freshman a mile away because they're wearing their keys/ID on a lanyard around their neck.  Because of this, freshman avoid it like the plague.  Upperclassmen wear their lanyards around their necks sometimes because they don't care if anyone thinks they're a freshman.
  46. If you're an English major, this will be your life: 
  47. You will bond frighteningly quickly with the people in your creative writing class.  Sharing poetry with someone is basically sharing your soul.  You will have no emotional privacy in a creative writing class.
I hope this has been...educational.

What would you add to this list?
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1 comment:

  1. So you learned a lot this year, haha XD But YES to the textbooks. They are SOO expensive.


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