You pull up on Move- In Day with everything you own skillfully stuffed into your car. Your mother is in tears, in shock that her baby is starting college. You play it off cool, but inside you’re freaking out. What will the next four years bring? What about the next four days? Your brain is on overload trying to adapt to a totally new environment teeming with strange faces. The following list is a compilation of four tips put together by a soon to be college junior. Relax, you’ll figure this college thing out and really enjoy the next four years of your life.
1. Get Involved– Immerse yourself in campus activities right away. Join clubs that interest you, try new things, and cheer on your school at a game. These four years fly by, so don’t pass up the opportunity to try something you’ve always wanted to do. Colleges offer so many different things like rugby, quidditch, service trips, cultural groups, outdoor activities, etc. You might find something you absolutely love. Personally I became a member of my school’s Rugby team. Having played team sports for as long as I can remember, it was something I missed first semester freshman year. Even if I could have played a Varsity sport, I didn’t want to because of the commitment. Before this, rugby itself seemed like something totally out of my element but I took a chance and found something I love. One of the best parts about it was my teammates. By becoming part of groups on campus you’ll meet lots of new people. It is a great way to make friends and find your niche- something really important at a big school. And if you go to a couple of meetings and absolutely hate it, you’ll most likely haven gotten some free food out of it- the importance of which cannot be underestimated by a college student.
2. Food– Depending on how meal plans work at your school, you’ll probably need or want to find alternatives at some point. At my school, everyone has unlimited swipes, unless their living spaces are equipped with kitchens. It’s great to be able to grab a snack anytime throughout the day or just get a coffee and hang out with friends without worrying about wasting swipes. However, all schools don’t work like this. Some have limited swipes or a pay per item system. Regardless of the meal plan you’re on, sometimes, you won’t be able to get food on campus. Therefore, I cannot stress enough how much you will come to love Ramen and EasyMac when its 1:00 in the morning and you still have four pages to write. I know how important it is to avoid the infamous “Freshmen 15” but trust me; you’ll definitely want to stock up on healthy, or not so healthy, snacks. Don’t forget tea and coffee of course. I know from personal experience that Ramen and a cup of coffee at 2 am make it possible to read the last Art History chapter that is on tomorrow’s exam.
Often times coupons for local delivery places appear in your campus mail box. Do not recycle them! You never know when you might be craving pizza or want Wings Over for the football game. Some places will even deliver until 3am and often have really great discounts for college students. My dining hall closes at 6pm on Sundays and by 10 or 11 I usually am hungry again. I’ve seen people bring Tupperware to dinner and bring leftovers back to their room. While the dining hall staff might not approve, it is a cheap solution to late night hunger. Also pay attention for when your favorite restaurant has a special freebie day. Free burrito day at Boloco and Free scoop day at Ben and Jerry’s are a couple of big ones. This year the Ben and Jerry’s truck actually came to my campus to deliver free ice cream- one of the perks of going to school in Vermont I suppose. These events provide a great alternative to dining hall food and plus food always tastes better when it’s free.
But if you plan on buying groceries try to get an advantage or member card. You’ll get special discounts and potentially save money on gas. Also try to clip coupons and go online and check out deals before you go shopping. You don’t need to become an “Extreme Couponer” or anything, but it really does help save money. At school, I tend to shop at Rite Aid and Price Chopper the most often and having advantage cards has saved me a good deal of money.
3. Avoiding the Freshmen 15– While this weight gaining phenomenon does happen, it can be avoided mainly though self- discipline. Just because your dining hall has an unlimited soft serve machine, doesn’t mean you need to have ice-cream at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just try to make good choices about what you eat and how much you’re eating. Indulge once and awhile, but just be aware. Exercise is also really important. Take a Zumba or Pilates class if your fitness center offers them. I have been to a couple of Zumba classes and have loved them. If you make working out part of your routine, it won’t seem like a chore or something you just don’t have time for. Make gym dates with friends; join an intramural team or the Frisbee Club. My friends and I this year are planning on attending Bikram Yoga classes together.
It’s a great way to bond and exercise. All you have to do is stay active, and it will be easy to keep off that weight. A big culprit in that notorious weight gain comes from alcohol use. If you decide to drink when you get to college, just don’t overdo it. You should avoid binge drinking for many reasons, but beer and hard alcohol are loaded with empty calories you don’t necessarily realizing you’re consuming. Personally I never thought of a couple beers or mixed drinks as caloric intake. But you need to consider that in order to avoid the dreaded “Freshmen 15”. Moderation is crucial. And as long as you don’t get carried away ordering take out too many times at 2 in the morning and go to the gym a few times a week, you’ll be okay.
4. Decorating your Room– At school your dorm room is your home. You want it to be a place where you can relax and feel comfortable. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to turn those white walls into a welcoming atmosphere. Websites like allposters.com have a huge variety of inexpensive posters you can buy. I have bought many posters there and so far been satisfied with the service. Christmas lights are a cheap way to add additional lighting and they come in a variety of colors and shapes. Just make sure not to hang them around the sprinkler- a big fire hazard and decorating no-no. Using close line hangers, you can hang pictures to your Christmas lights strands. A friend of mine did that this year and it looked amazing. Make photo collages of your friends and family to hang up in your room, especially since it’s your first time living away from home. Put up tapestries or wall stickers. Target and the Christmas Tree Shop are great places to find relatively cheap decorations. I frequently browse the aisles of these retailers and stumble across great decorations. Do something to add personality to your room. If you don’t, I guarantee that those white walls will eventually drive you crazy. My room is covered with posters, pictures, stickers, and tapestries. Feeling comfortable in your space will help you cope with the inevitable homesickness.
There are numerous guide books and blogs for incoming college freshmen full of helpful tips on making the transition easier. However the most important thing is just to be you and stay open to the many new experiences the next four years will provide.