RS (rainbowstevie) wrote,

The Nervous Freshman's Guide to Surviving College

I wrote this two years ago for some of my younger friends, encompassing everything I wished someone had told me before I got shipped off to college (something I'd been dreading for a solid year). Having neither older siblings nor older friends, I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare for it, other than an overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear of the unknown.  Published material was even less help, since it all seemed to focus mainly on how to negotiate unbearable roommates, sex, and alcohol, none of which I anticipated being a factor in my life, much less a problem.  (for the record, I was right)   So, from the wise perspective of an upcoming sophomore, I created my own brief guide for people who were shy little wallflowers like me.  

Although the majority of my flist here is already out of high school, I personally could do with reminding of a few of these points.  (Voice: Like the PACK EARLY one?) Plus,  there's the whole wide internet full of search engine people.  And LJ is very slow this weekend.  Thus, I feel it warrants a posting.  I really want to be posting Harry Potter fic recs, but since I seem to have developed an aversion to writing the necessary reviews first, you get this instead.      

The Nervous Freshman’s Guide to Surviving College"

a) Decide when, why, and how you’re going to come home for the first time.  It gives you something to look forward to.

b) Start packing two weeks in advance, so you have time to remember things you forgot in the first round and your parents don’t have to mail them to you on Day 2.

c) Practice answering icebreaker questions like “My favorite color/movie/food is," and what you think your major will be and/or why you chose this school.

d) Gather your favorite photos of your friends and family. 

e) If you’ve got a cell phone with free long distance, great.  Otherwise get a prepaid phone card so you can call your parents/siblings/friends/significant other, whoever’s the greatest comfort, in those early days.

f) If you don't already have a blog, get one.  See that your friends do the same.  [Facebook/MySpace may or may not serve the same purpose, depending upon your social networking needs.]

g) Look at the club offerings your school of choice has, and decide which one(s) you might be interested in.  Gives you something to look forward to while you're actually there.

1) Hug your parents before they go

2)  Realize that when college first starts, it honestly is Grade 13.  They will not assign you a 10-page research paper due next week.  They will give you a syllabus which looks long and impossibly difficult, but it is perfectly manageable taken one day at a time and may also be subject to change.

3) DO attend the first few dorm events your RA puts together, so you can get to know the people who live on your floor.  You’ll see them every day, and you want to be able to say “hello” when you pass in the hall without scrambling for a name.

4) Try to finish some homework every night, even if it's not immediately due next class period, but don’t worry about filling a quota of “hours of work per hours of class time.”  Work as much or as little as you have to in order to do a good job.  Some classes actually are easy.  Shocking, but true. 

5) Ignore the people who warn you that college is nothing like high school.  SHUT UP!  And high school was nothing like middle school, remember that?  

6) Also ignore the people who tell you that college will be very difficult and you're doomed to fail if you don't study at least three times as much as you ever did before. Approach it like you’ve always done - I assume since you were able to get into this college, you are a decent student.  By the time you get to more challenging classes, you will have naturally adapted to the workload.  

7) Decorate your room.  Put up those photos, stick up posters, bring your favorite books/DVDs, and put a stuffed animal on your bed, especially if you’re used to sleeping beside your dog or cat.

8a) Receiving e-mail will make you happy.  Write to your friends.  Receiving regular mail will make you even happier, although it takes longer and costs a few cents to send.
b) Blog comments also bring the happy; they are brief but probably more frequent because of it, and reading about other peoples' experiences will help as much as writing about your own.
c) Also, computer labs are often crowded and/or not open 24 hours a day, so bring your own computer.  If you do not have one already, you can get a perfectly functional secondhand one for a very reasonable price.

9) You will still have time to read (for fun).  Many college students will claim this is untrue, and they no longer have time for this at all, but that is why God created Saturday mornings.  (or Friday nights, or afternoons; take your pick.  I managed to read 79 books over the course of the school year, not counting textbooks)

10) You will also still have time to watch TV.  I suggest having specific shows to watch rather than just flipping it on any time; if you're invested in characters and storylines, the benefit of escapism will aid your overall health and well-being.  I also suggest recording/downloading/streaming in order to skip commercials, which will allow you to watch approximately 33% more show content per hour, or at least earn you some productive free time.

11) Exercise.  You don't have to lift weights, do aerobics or run 2 miles (unless that's what you enjoy), but simply getting outside and walking around for a while will make you feel better.  

The End

Tags: college, school

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