By Tabinda Sial
I will be going into my junior year at Michigan State University this upcoming fall and there are so many incoming freshmen that constantly asks me questions about MSU. I realized I found the answers to those questions through my own college experience. No one gives you a book on “How to Survive College” when you first get there, you sort of have to just experience college for yourself to adjust to this new world of freedom. But there are a few tips I would give to freshmen going to college in the fall because they will definitely help at some point!
My freshmen year I ended up not having a roommate which I was very excited about especially since I decided to go in blind. Most people pick someone from their high school to be their roommate or their best friend but that may not always be a good idea. People always say “you never know a person until you live with them”, which I noticed was fairly true by observing my friends that decided to room with their friends which did not end so well. Going in blind sounds even worst because you do not know the person at all unless you guys have been texting the entire summer but you still don’t know their living habits. When sharing a room rules and respect play a major role in how the school year will go.
- Discuss or make a list of rules you both come up with together for the room then also make personal lists. Rules for the room could consist of not leaving clothes on the floor or making a cleaning schedule for the room. Personal lists could consists of your favorite snacks their not allowed to eat unless asking or borrowing clothes because some people do feel since you’re roommates that they can just take clothes to wear out your closet without asking permission (unless you said that was fine).
- Have respect for each other while sharing a space. If you know your roommate is studying for an exam tomorrow don’t have a mini turn up with all your friends in the room. If you plan on having “the bae” spend the night, let your roommate know so it isn’t a surprise that there is a guest in their room.
- If you go in blind actually take the time to get to know your roommate. You don’t have to force being friends with them but you never know, you both may end up having a lot of common interests and end up being lifelong friends.
Priorities are a huge factor in a college student’s life. Imagine move in day, your parents leave and now you’re free to do whatever, whenever, and however you like. If you are going off to school you will understand within that first week when I say you have too much freedom and won’t know how to ACT! Self-control, responsibilities, and organization will help so much during your freshmen year and give you habits that you can continue to use throughout your college career.
- Get a planner! Planners are not for everyone but they are definitely worth trying because they helped me. I’m such a busy person so I can’t remember every homework assignment, meeting, and social event so writing it down puts my mind at ease.
- Cramming vs. Preparing: make time to study for tests and complete projects ahead of time. Procrastination is like a sour patch kid, first it kills you rushing to complete things then when you’re finally finished its a bittersweet feeling. Professors will give you an assignment due a month away, you think you have all the time in the world then a month later comes and you are rushing to complete the assignment. When you get an assignment you should do it as soon as you find out.
- Introduce yourself to your professors and teaching assistants because if you email them about a grade you weren’t happy with they can put a face to the name and may try to work with you on improving the grade. Relationships with your professors can pay off in the long run when you need that extra 2% to give you an A in the class.
- Make goals for the year! Push yourself to obtain a certain GPA or meet the requirements for a certain scholarship you want to apply for.
The number one thing that most college freshmen are excited for are the parties. It’s college, enjoy yourself but don’t get too crazy and make a name for yourself. A lot of freshmen that come to college, believe it or not, have never drank alcohol before. Of course we aren’t of age to drink at that time but most teenagers do experiment with drinking before 21 years old. Safety is very important in college.
- Alcohol and Drugs: it is college and you definitely will experiment with a lot of things and being honest alcohol and drugs may be one. Be careful what drinks you accept at parties because it may not just be only alcohol in the bottle. Always take your cup everywhere with you, never set it down and start drinking it again. Always limit your drinking, don’t drink and drive and drink responsibly when going out. Don’t get so wasted that you and your friends have to leave the party early to take you home. From personal experience I never wanted to and probably never will experience drugs, other than marijuana, because they actually scare me. The long term and side effects of harsher drugs just don’t excite me enough to even try them one time.
- Have a buddy system! Girls especially need to always go out with at least one other friend because crime does happen on college campuses. I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable being by myself at parties unless I know everyone there but always go to the bathrooms with each other and if you are walking back to your dorm at night be safe and cautious. It is better to take a uber or catch a ride with a friend rather than walking anywhere at night time.
The first week of school is usually considered “Welcome Week” and a lot of college campuses have events and parties that they throw. You will see organizations, clubs, and dance teams recruiting for new members.
- Join orgs! Being involved on campus is one of my favorite things about college because you get the chance to complete community service while being apart of an organization that you enjoy. It is good to join organizations or clubs related to your major to make connections and have resources to reach out to when you need help on an assignment. Also join some organizations that you have interest in such as a photography club if you like taking pictures or a women/men empowering club.
- Attend the football and basketball games, the energy at the games will make you love your school especially if the student section is lit. Attend the events that happen in the first weeks of school especially the ones held by the school. Most of the time they always have something for FREE or food and what “broke college student” doesn’t love free stuff and food or better yet, FREE FOOD!
- Make yourself familiar with the campus. This isn’t high school where you’re in one building all day. You have classes in multiple buildings. You might be going from one class to the next and your next class may be on the other side of campus. When you get some free time to look at your schedule, see what buildings you have classes in and familiarize yourself with the buildings on campus to get around easier.
Some people come to college already in a relationship and others are ready to explore and meet new people. I won’t say relationships in college won’t work out but depending on your circumstances it could be hard. Every thing is always easier said than done so of course you think you and your high school sweetheart of 4 years will be together forever but sometimes the temptations in college can cause for a break or complete break up.
- Coming into college already in a relationship – if your partner is staying back home, it may be harder for you since you will be surrounded by so many different people from different places. To keep the relationship strong they should come visit often and you both can enjoy parties or go on dates at your school on the weekends. If you both are attending the same school, this could either go one or two ways. Your relationship could actually get stronger since you’ll be able to be together all the time or you both could just drift apart and venture off into other interests. The hardest one is long distance relationships, I’ve been there and done that, not saying they can’t work but it takes a lot of effort from both of you to make it work. The key to maintaining a healthy relationship while in college is trust, communication, and effort.
- Looking for love – I always thought I may find the man of my dreams in college and marry them since I’m such a hopeless romantic but now that reality is kicking in and I’m entering my junior year I technically stopped looking. Trying to find love in college may come easy or may take a few tries to finally find the right one. I believe having a “bae” in college is perfect because with all the stress of college a relationship might be too much to handle.
- Stay single – You came to college for a degree not a man/woman! Focus on school and work hard because eventually someone will notice and you’ll end up with somebody without even realizing it. Being single can be very beneficial because you have time to focus on yourself and school which should be your main priorities freshmen year.
College students favorite line to say when something involves money is “I’m a broke college student”. I know that has become my favorite line to say to my family to get some extra money because I’m working so hard as a college student I don’t have time to work so they tend to feel for you. If you are thinking about getting a job freshmen year I think you should wait until you get accustomed to the campus, your work load, and your schedule.
- If you want to get a job I suggest waiting until spring semester because fall semester can be used to get organized and getting comfortable with this new environment. In the spring you’ll be pretty much settled in and ready to take on a new task such as a job.
- As a freshmen most college campuses don’t allow you to have your car on campus so getting a job on campus would be very beneficial. My freshmen year I worked in my dorm building at the front desk which was an easy job that worked around my schedule. There are plenty of on campus jobs such as working at the front desk, the cafe, or stores on campus that give you shifts that are easy to fit into your busy schedule.
As you enter into your freshmen year of college I want you to enjoy every second of it but also be smart in the decisions you make. You will run into some challenges and make mistakes but it’s life, it happens. Be focused, have fun, stay safe and get a 4.0!