One of my freshman year memories was lining up the entire floor and all of us getting haircuts at the “4th Floor Barber Shop” because we all needed haircuts and didn’t want to pay to get them done elsewhere.
Here are some tips I’ve picked up my first year in college that may be useful to you:
1. Get Involved Sooner Rather Than Later
I got involved way too late in my high school career. I didn’t join any clubs or sports until my junior year. It made me realize just how much I missed by not putting myself out there and getting involved. During freshman year in college, I joined an absurd amount of clubs and organizations and I don’t regret a single one. Some of them I’m no longer a member of, but it allowed me to explore my options when I had a relatively easy course load. I later whittled down my laundry list of memberships to the ones I actually gave a hoot about. Getting involved early allowed me to make friends early and really enjoy everything the school has to offer.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Freshman year you’re required to get a meal plan which essentially entails the all-you-can-eat buffet style dining hall known as Panther Dining. There are tons of things to eat there! At first you love it, but very quickly you’ll realize that you can’t eat pizza, cookies and burgers every day. You begin to slow down, can’t sleep right, and gain weight. You have to incorporate fruits and veggies and the other food groups into a balanced meal. The pizza and fried foods are nice, but eat them in moderation. Nobody wants the dreaded “Freshman 15.”
3. The Gym Is Your Friend
College is a time to re-invent yourself. When you begin your freshman year, nobody knows you yet, so you can become anyone you want to be. When I came to Florida Tech, I decided I’d start working out regularly. It improved my overall health, I lost weight and it was a great stress reliever. Even if you’re not the most athletic person, the gym is the place to start.
4. Get Your Homework Done Before the Weekend
Getting your homework done throughout the week will allow you to save those precious hours on the weekends to do things that you want to be doing. Most of my floormates put off their homework until Sunday night. I got all mine done the week prior and was able to enjoy Sunday Night Football while everyone else stressed out in their rooms.
5. Try New Things
6. Do Crazy Things with Your New Friends
Now I’m not saying you should jump off bridges or go steal street signs, but enjoy your new-found freedom! You don’t have your parents watching everything you do, so it’s OK if you decide to go out to Steak ‘n’ Shake at 2 a.m. with your roommate. Just remember, school comes first.
7. RAs Aren’t Out to Get You
Residence Assistants sometimes get a false reputation as killjoys who only want to write people up. RAs provide guidance when you need it, help get maintenance to fix things wrong with your room and solve roommate disputes. They are there to look out for your well-being. When in doubt, ask an RA.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Yes, you don’t have your parents telling you when to go to bed, and yes, you may have an inclination to go out and do crazy things with your friends, but try to get enough sleep. Going to bed at 2 a.m. every night only to get up 5 hours later for your 8 a.m. class is not sustainable. You will run your immune system into the ground (trust me). Try to get between 7 and 10 hours of sleep a night. Some people like to supplement their sleep schedule with naps (which, by the way, will become your new best friend).
9. School First, Everything Else Second
You’re here first and foremost to get a college degree. Don’t mess that up. I was in shock when some of my freshman friends didn’t return in the spring because their parents took them out of school or they lost their financial aid due to bad grades. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t go out one weekend because you need to catch up on homework and studying. There will be other weekends. Most of us only get one shot at college.
10. Call Mom and Dad Every Now and Then
Finally, it’s nice (and appreciated) to call home once a week and let your friends and family know how you’re doing. For many, this is the first time you’ll be away from your parents for an extended period of time. They’ll miss you. They’re doing you a great service by making your school attendance a possibility, so drop them a line every once in a while. My freshman year I liked to call Sunday afternoons and let them know how my week was. Who knows— your parents might pick up on your subtle hints and send you more care packages.