Thursday, September 13, 2012

College Advice

I have a broad age range in my friendships.  My oldest friend is around 80 years old; the youngest is around 15.  I don't know why this is but it's awesome.

Some of my younger friends started college this year.  Being an Older and Wiser Individual (allegedly), a few of them came to me for advice on how to navigate that first year without too many rough patches.  I don't know what they think I can tell them, but I thought that it might be of use to other people reading this blog (since apparently people do read this blog), so here's what I've got to offer.  Much of this can be skipped if you're not living in the dormitory, but some of it's useful regardless.

1.  The key to surviving with a roommate, or roommates, is compromise.  It might sound common sense, but I know I was guilty of being a pain in the butt more times than I care to admit.  (Mindi, if you ever see this, thanks for not killing me in my sleep.)  Clean up after yourself in the shared space.  Don't borrow or take anything belonging to your roommate without asking permission.  Make use of study rooms and other outside locations if you need to work while your roommate is trying to sleep.  You don't have to be best friends if your personalities don't click that way, but you do have to live together for at least a few months, so be respectful of each other's needs and wishes as much as possible.

2.  There's this thing called the "freshman fifteen," referring to the average fifteen pounds that freshmen gain through the combination of stress and limitless portions in the university cafeteria.  I think I was above average, myself, but that's beside the point.  Try to make healthy selections when you can.  Keep some good snack options in your room - fresh fruit, whole-wheat crackers, string cheese, that kind of thing.  I'm not saying avoid the cafeteria entirely, but do try to exercise moderation.  And don't overdo it on the coffee.  Drink plenty of water.

3.  All-nighters may be traditional, but they're not a good idea.  Try to space out your assignments so that you don't have to pull them.  Your body may have trouble adjusting to your new location and routine, so do the best you can to get plenty of sleep at night.

4.  Don't hesitate to go to the school's medical facility at the first sign of a cold or sinus infection.  If you're living on campus, there was a fee built into your tuition that entitles you to use their services, and that's much preferable to suffering through being sick.  You have enough on your plate without feeling like garbage.

5.  Never, ever, ever walk alone across campus after dark.  Safety in numbers and all that.

6.  Try to keep up on your laundry enough that you're not dragging dirty clothes home to be washed.  That's not fair to your mom.

7.  College students are always, almost without exception, short on funds.  Find out what the shopping options are near the school, especially things like dollar stores and thrift shops.

8.  I won't try to tell you not to drink.  I'd rather you didn't, since as a freshman you're probably too young to do it legally, but it's not like I can police you over the internet either.  What I will strongly urge is that you only ever do it in the company of people you know you can trust - and always make sure that you have a sober ride back to your dorm.

9.  Relatedly, never go to a party alone.  Always have at least one trustworthy friend with you and watch each other's drinks.  Above all, trust your instincts - if you feel uncomfortable or nervous, get out of the situation.

10.  I saved this one for last since it's by far the most amusing.  Always wear something decent to bed, preferably long pants or at least shorts.  Keep the following very close to your bedside: slip-on shoes, your glasses if you wear them, your room key, your purse or wallet, and a jacket.  Why, you ask?  Late night fire drills.  They can happen at any time of year and you have a very short time to scramble out into the cold night.  During my first year of college, I endured a two-month period where we literally had a fire drill every night at around two in the morning, and I developed this habit.  It was extremely helpful.  (The drills were not planned, in our case - there was a faulty alarm that would go off at that hour, but we still had to go outside.)

So there you have it - my advice to university newbies.  I hope it helps.  Best of luck with your studies!

1 comment:

  1. ALL good advice. I, too, was subject to more than one late-night fire alarm. No drills, just people forgetting to turn their hot plates off. Again. And waking us all up at four in the morning to go and huddle out on the street. So yeah, number ten's a good one!


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