What they don’t tell you in the Brochures
Relationships and Romance
College is a giant fishbowl. Some are guppies, some are sharks, and some are the kin of Jaws (usually basketball players). What I mean is that keeping your high school sweetie safe from all these predators is a tough task and not everyone can do it. Most pre-college relationships are challenged during that first year, so you’ll have to work hard to keep your special someone by your side.
Long Distance and Long Lectures
Cell phones, the ultimate way to stay in touch. Personally, I want a cell phone, but then again I also want to pay for my groceries…always a toss up. Regardless, watch out for that long distance bill. Most likely you’ll miss your friends from high school and want to stay in touch. No problem, just learn how to use email. Most likely you already have an account with your college or university and it’s free. Cell phones, contrary to most freshmen beliefs, are not. And when Professor Whatchamakalit gets extremely boring, try some origami, it doesn’t cost a thing and you won’t be working at the Waffle House to pay your bills.
Study Habits for the Mildly Social
Study groups are the best way to help yourself and others. The idea is to get together with a small group of people so that many minds can tackle difficult subjects. Make sure you don’t pick Jimmy Ray Illiterate or Suzie Speaksalot as your group members, but just study with people like you. Odds are, this will help you meet people and form a productive study environment. And if a study group is not your thing, seek out a nice, peaceful, somber place where you can talk to yourself and no one will hear. Then at least you can scream out loud when calculus becomes too intense!
Because your only impression of Greek Life probably came from the movie Animal House, let me present an alternative view. Joining a sorority or fraternity when you are a freshman can kind of be like joining the newcomer’s club. It’s a great way to meet people and take part in a philanthropic organization for the purpose of social activities. Sound like a lot? Basically Greek groups are a bunch of “brothers” or “sisters” who hang out all the time and welcome new people. You have to pay some dues (usually for clothing and intramurals) and participate in some rituals. It’s a place where you’ll make lifelong friends, and, even better, a place to learn a lot about life.
Magellan Probably Got Lost
The biggest freshman scare, at least for me, was if I could find my classes that first day. Actually, this is nothing to fear at all! Unless you are taking a satellite forestry class at Bob’s Christmas tree farm 20 miles from campus, there are ample amounts of data with which to navigate. Most often, you’ll move in a few days before classes begin, so instead of sleeping until 2 pm., take advantage of this time and find out where your classes are. You won’t look like an idiot because other freshmen are doing the same thing!
Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac
The two staples of any dorm-confined college freshman are Ramen noodles and Easy Mac. Never heard of them? Don’t worry, a lot of people who eat real food haven’t. Basically they are incredibly easy-to-make pasta dishes that come in little packages. Add hot water and both become, to some degree, food. Their advantage is cost and disadvantage is nutrition. But who cares, right? You’ll never be subjected to the Freshman 15. Or will you?
Grades and Guardians
Probably what worries you most about the college scene is that darned G.P.A. Yes, your grade point average. What will make or break your college career, right? Well, not so right and not so wrong. College is about expanding your mind on a given area of study. But that expansion includes having fun and learning outside of the lecture hall. Put simply, it means a lot more than JUST your G.P.A. But let me also stress that your G.P.A. is very important. After all, you can’t even be in school without a certain average and you certainly limit yourself to employers with a 1.1 versus a 4.0.
Inspiring Words: Have Fun!
When I was a freshman, I had a history class on my first day. It was a discussion section (kind of like where the whole class gets together to review the lecture) and led by a very inspirational T.A. (teaching assistant), whose name I won’t mention. Here is the gist of what he said: “For you freshman out there…welcome to college. This place has all the privileges of being an adult minus all the negatives. …You guys need to remember to study hard and have fun, because these are the best years of your lives. These four, five, and maybe six years will be over before you know it and then you’ll have to get a real job. So good luck and have fun.” It was short, sweet, and to the point. Although every person perceives college differently, most people leave happy. So enjoy it, have fun, call your parents often and get some sleep!