Freshers is here and we have one piece of advice for you – forget everything you’ve been told about university. Forget what your advisors told you about scheduling and how modern media has portrayed Greek Life. The movies are wrong, the rumours are wrong, and my goodness, what your dad is telling you… well, it’s wrong! From the eyes of a final year student, I have crafted a survival guide for your next 3 plus years.
First and foremost, don’t buy your books until after the first week of class. Some professors will surprise you with the fact that you don’t need the book at all. Or, you might meet someone in your class willing to split the cost with you.
More than likely, you will receive a booklist or the University bookstore will provide a system to purchase your books in one convenient visit. And even more likely, this will be the death to your wallet. Meet people on your course. You can probably acquire the hand-me-down version from another student that took the class last semester. Websites like Amazon Student or Chegg can offer price cuts that will have your mouth watering. Save your money for other college necessities: like red cups.
Also, use a Kindle or a tablet if you can; technology rules, and a lighter bag will save your back on that treacherous hike to the library.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer on if one should live with someone they already know or a total stranger. I have heard horror stories on both ends. It is important, however, to keep in mind that you are going to be sharing a flat with this person. Ask yourself these questions:
Can I handle this person when they come home, intoxicated, ranting about their last breakup?
Can I get used to seeing this person naked, or even half naked? (Because you will.)
Can I get along with this person’s girlfriend or boyfriend? Their friends? Their family members that surprise visit?
Are their spending habits similar to yours? (If they are too stingy, they might take advantage of your good nature. If they are generous with their money, they might influence you to go out spending more than you need).
Sports, clubs, study groups, societies, intramurals. It’s not nerdy anymore to be in clubs. It’s also not nerdy to go to the library with a group of classmates. Socialise. Mingle. You’ll benefit from knowing that geek sitting next to you in your Brit-Lit class and you’ll benefit more when you befriend people such as the dude with the beer-pong table down the hall from you.
You will. A lot. And your 6th form friends that went to different universities, well, they will change, too. Understand that when you go home for that first break, the people you spent so much time with in 6th form just don’t have the same style as you anymore. Your interests have probably changed, your priorities shifted, and that’s okay. For some reason, a lot of young people are under the impression that it’s a horrible thing to change. Recognise that it’s not. It’s beautiful. University is about adjusting to a new future. Learn. Grow. That’s why you’re here.
Just don’t! The lanyard should go two places: the canteen and in the car. It safely holds your keys, your student ID, whatever. Puh-lease do not sport it around your neck at parties. You know who else has that same lanyard? Everyone else at this flipping party. Don’t ruin your outfit with your tacky university colors.
Get to know your lecturers. They will be huge assets a few years from now when you need a job. Speak up in class, take notes, and ask questions. If you fall asleep, you will become subject in your classmates’ Snapchats.
Go to class. Do your homework. Do the readings. You’ll do fine. Breathe, breathe. You. Will. Do. Fine.
The biggest struggle of adjusting to university classes is time management and self-discipline. Do your homework. Get it over with.
A lot of professors are lenient about attendance. Be wise about skipping. It is easy to find reasons to miss class, but you’ll regret it come midterms. Get up, grab a coffee, and get it over with. You can nap later.
Napping is about to become your favorite pastime. Embrace it! Napping allows for you to hit the parties late and still attend your 8 am classes. Learn to accept the fact that 8-hour sleep cycles don’t exist, and you’ll get off to a better start come syllabus week.
Ladies. Your dad said it before high school and I’ll say it again now. By second or third year, the guys know how to play the game. They know that the freshers aren’t going to manage their alcohol intake as well. They also know the sheer desperation that these girls are feeling when they want to establish their social ranking at their first frat party. So gentlemen, be nice. And ladies, be smart.
Yep, I said it! The only baggage you need when you show up on campus is your suitcase and bed sheets. Unless the chick you’re dating is the girl you’re wifing, dump her and move on. It’s uni. You’re about to meet thousands of single people. AND TRUST ME: you don’t want to be that guy at the party who has to check-in with their significant other who is, by the way, is cheating on you with some jacked up frat star.
For the first time ever, you will face the fact that there is something to do every night. It’s acceptable to hit the bars when you have an 8AM if you preset your alarm before you leave the dorm (this is key). Learn your limits early. Also know that sleep is precious, and it’s embarrassing to go to class still drunk from the night before.
In the same respect, you do not have to attend every social gathering in which you receive an invitation. Don’t let your Instagram feed or Facebook check-in’s make you feel that you’re missing out if you stay in one night. Let your body refuel, get your homework done, and take a night off. After all, it’s not attractive to be falling over wasted 7 nights a week. Instead, fall off the map for a night. It won’t kill you.
You miss out on a lot of cool people if your social desires are predetermined with your clique. This isn’t high school, there’s no popular crowd. Ladies, you are not Regina George. And gentleman, you went from being the hotshots of your high school to the ants at the bottom of the totem pole.
Everyone you meet in college serves a purpose. Socialise now to get invited to the parties, and you’ll create a network of young professionals in the future. This could come in handy, when that nerd in your calculus class inherits a company and future-you needs a job.
A friend once told me to look back on past relationships with nostalgia, knowing that each person I’ve encountered has taught me something. This idea comes to life in college. Even that horrifying roommate that you dealt with for a semester, well, made you stronger.
Canteen. Cafe. Dining hall. Whatever you call it, it’s there, and it’s probably the cheapest way to get a real meal. Entering the real world, you’re going to have to cook your own meals with ingredients that you actually have to buy. It’s expensive. Take advantage of those reasonable meal plans when they are offered. And most likely, they are better than ramen noodles in your dorm.
PS: it’s okay to go to the canteen by yourself.
You have the rest of your life to be a working adult so, enjoy your first year. Embrace the spontaneity and adventures that emerge in university. Meet your future best friends, play hard, and work even harder.
Featured image from Murray State