Advice for College Freshmen
It’s hard for me to believe I’m entering my senior year of college. I feel like freshman year was just yesterday. Today I move into college housing for the last time, while freshmen move into their dorms, meet their new roommates, and say goodbye to their parents. Looking back on my past three years, there have been plenty of ups and downs, and more good memories than I can share. I wanted to take today to share a few tips and pieces of advice I would have given myself if I could go back to my freshman move in .
one // Invest in a good backpack – I see a ton of posts about different backpacks for back to school, but I have to say, if you need a heavy duty backpack, The North Face is the way to go. I got the older version of the Recon when I started college and I still use it on days when I have to carry a heavier load and when I travel. It has a laptop sleeve, and a smaller sleeve I can use for my iPad, two outside pockets I can use for a water bottle and umbrella, a front mesh pocket I use for my agenda to keep it from getting ruined by textbooks or notebooks, and a smaller pocket for headphones, a wallet and keys. The newer version has all the same features and is a life saver if you have to carry a sizable load. They also make a women’s version with differently cut straps than the men’s version! It’s one of the best school purchases I’ve ever made and it’ll last you well beyond your college years.
two // Pack smart – Packing for school can be daunting, especially if you’ve never been away from home for a long time. I think the best packing tip I got as an incoming freshman was DON’T pack t-shirts. I don’t care if you wear them to the gym or every day, you don’t need them. High school t-shirts will just take up space in your very small closet. During welcome week you can get a million and one free t-shirts and you’re more likely than not going to buy a few more from your school, and get even more from clubs or activities you’re involved in, so if you bring t-shirts to start with you’ll end up with way more than you have room for. On that note, you can leave pretty much any other apparel you have from your high school at home too. Last but not least, if you didn’t wear it at home, you’re not going to wear it at school – don’t pack it.
three // Follow your passions – When I was in high school I was involved in our radio station. I loved the program but I thought I wanted to study business so I put all things communication on the back-burner when I went to college. Long story short, I ended up transferring schools to pursue a degree in communications. Don’t worry about every activity you’re involved in being “resume worthy” or related to your exact career path. There’s value in every activity you do and almost anything you put your time and effort into will give you skills you can transfer to any job you get in the future. Do what you love and the rest will fall into place.
Four // Get involved – I think over the course of my first three years of school I was involved in 7-8 different clubs. Sign up for everything at your school’s activity fair and try to get involved in as many things as you can while still allowing time for school work. As you get older you’ll narrow down your focus and only stay committed to 1-3 clubs, but when you first get to school, try everything and anything until you find those 1-3 activities you really love.
Five // Textbook tips – Textbooks are a huge college expense. Books can cost up to $200 or even $500 for an UNDERGRAD class which is absolutely ridiculous. To make sure you’re not spending more than you need to, wait until the first day of class or until you have a syllabus to buy any textbooks. Make sure your teacher actually requires it, and then find out if you’re going to need the textbook in class. If you only need the book for assigned reading, one way to get around buying or renting the book is to borrow from the library. At my school, we have course reserves, where you can check out textbooks you need for class. Often times the books can’t leave the library and are only available for 4-6 hours at a time, which is actually not terrible because it forces you to do your reading in the library instead of trying to read in your dorm where you can get distracted. If it’s a school specific book, check with friends or members of any clubs you’re involved in to see if anyone is selling it for cheap, and if it’s not check Chegg, Amazon and other online discount textbook sellers! You’ll probably have to bite the bullet on a few textbooks over the course of your four years, but there’s no reason to buy all new books every single year. One last tip – rent whenever you can!!! I know you’ll think to yourself, but what if I need this book in the future? Odds are you’ll barely look at it during the semester let alone afterwards, so rent it and if you find yourself wishing you had it later on go back and buy it, but I doubt you will.