So you want to know what your four years of college are going to be like? Well, we can’t tell you, so there. Ha! Well, okay, we can give you an idea of what lies down the road for you, but predicting what somebody will do in college is like predicting what somebody will buy in a well-stocked candy store. The person may emerge with a beguiling variety of interesting goodies, or may emerge clutching the same tasty treat that’s pleased her palate in years past. So while we can’t tell you what you’ll buy from the store, we can give you an idea of what you’ll find in the aisles.

One thing you’re almost certain to encounter is lines. You’ll be waiting on lines to select/change courses (unless you’re lucky enough to attend a well-wired school), lines to buy books, lines to open a bank account, lines at the cafeteria, and maybe even lines for the shower. The cool thing is that all this waiting will give you another opportunity to meet new people or mull over whatever experience you just had. Even cooler, by the time the novelty of meeting new people wears off (if, indeed it does), you’ll probably have learned the best ways to avoid, or at least minimize, lines.

You’ll probably be surprised at how quickly you’ll assimilate to your surroundings and adopt new routines to replace the old ones you left behind. You’ll quickly meet new friends, including, with any luck, your roommate. Don’t worry if you don’t become best of friends with your roommate, though. As long as there’s mutual respect, you should have a comfortable living situation. Not making friends or meeting enough people? Take advantage of the opportunities that every college, no matter how small, offers. There will be clubs, teams, parties, volunteer activities, lectures, movies, concerts, performances, jobs, and late night dorm bull sessions. In fact, even if your social life is thriving, it’s not a bad idea to make yourself check out at least one or two activities that you’ve never tried before. It couldn’t hurt and it’ll probably be free or cheap–enjoy those student rates while you can!

There will be so many activities that you may want to start a scrap book to remember them all. Taking brief notes on guest lecturers is a good way to remember what they said long after the fact. Speaking of lectures, “What about classes?” you ask. “Won’t I be busy taking courses?” Of course you will. You’ll probably have more work than you’ve ever had. But you’ll also probably have the most free time you’ve ever had. Even if you work part-time, you should still have a fair amount of free time. There will be a lot of homework, but within a semester you’ll figure out how to prioritize. It’s often easy to put off work because there probably won’t be as many tests and papers as you had in high school. Procrastinate too much, though, and you’ll get swamped before exam periods. Pace yourself and work efficiently and you should have enough time to prepare for classes and exams while having plenty of time to enjoy yourself.

You may hear that college will be the best years of your life.’ Don’t believe it. No matter how good college is, with any luck your life will be even better after college. However, college does present significant freedom and opportunities. You’ll probably never again be surrounded by that many peers on a full-time basis. Have fun, even play it safe, but still challenge yourself. If you explore new academic and extracurricular opportunities, you can have a great time and the satisfaction of knowing you never wasted a chance.