Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to College

I want to start this off by saying that I go to a relatively small school, and have never been in a large-school environment. For this reason, some of these points will only be relevant to people in a similar situation as me. Things like laundry, food and budgeting, however, are pretty normal obstacles that any average college student will face. I also apologize that this entire article is mostly negative-toned, but I want this to be as transparent and honest as possible. Enjoy!

Side note: there will probably be a part 2 to this.

  1. Stock up on as many pairs of socks and underwear as you possibly can. I promise you that once you get to college, you will never want to do laundry.
  2. If you are a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or have any other dietary regulation, be prepared to spend a lot of your own money on meals and groceries. That is, unless you enjoy eating salad or plain pasta every day. Unfortunately, many colleges still struggle to cater to students with needs such as these.
  3. There is nothing wrong with taking a gap year of starting out at a community college to figure out what you want to do with your life. I still regret immediately jumping into college after I graduated high school, having not traveled or explored different ideas to figure out what I’m actually passionate about.
  4. A surprising amount of people struggle with roommate drama their first (additional) years of college. Almost everybody I’ve met here has had a negative roommate experience at one point.
  5. A lot of buildings will have odd, wonky hours, so make sure you memorize them to avoid trekking along campus to a building that’s actually closed.
  6. Grubhub and UberEats are your new best friend. Same with Netflix and Hulu.
  7. If possible, try to secure a job (preferably an on-campus one) before you get to college. If you have connections, take advantage of that! I got a job in my college mailroom the summer before my first year because I went to high school with the postmaster’s son.
  8. The smaller the school, the clique-ier it will be. My school, for example, only has 1400 undergraduates who mainly all fall into the same social demographic. I’m a junior in college now, and I still struggle with making/keeping friends.
  9. If you have the space in your room, investing in a clothing rack will give you more free closet space! I turned mine into a pantry.
  10. There’s nothing wrong with eating in the dining hall by yourself. I do it all the time, and so do many other people.
  11. Don’t be afraid to ask the dining hall staff to make accommodations for you. You are, on average, paying about $190 a week just to eat on your campus. You have every right to ask for something that would make your eating habits feasibly easier.
  12. You should ALWAYS try to have snacks in your dorm room. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been suddenly stricken with hunger at 11pm with nowhere to get food. Non-perishable items like protein bars, soup, and potato chips are some good staples to have on hand.
  13. Even if your dining hall tells you not to, sneak out as many to-go cups of croutons and dry cereal as you want. A lot of foods found in dining halls are high in sugar and carbohydrates, which will cause you to become constantly hungry throughout the day. Sometimes, three meal swipes just isn’t enough, especially if you’re eating your last meal at six pm. I take a handful of bananas or nuts almost every time I leave the dining hall, just in case I get peckish before bed and don’t have snacks back in my room.
  14. Invest in a Keurig and enough k-cups to get you through the semester. There have been a lot of times I have wasted entire meal swipes on coffee, just because I didn’t have the resources to make one in my room.
  15. Also invest in a flashlight, umbrella, swiffer, backrest pillow, and enough plastic silverware to feed a small army.
  16. If possible, ALWAYS rent your textbooks over buying them. You should also check with upper-class students or to see which classes actually use the textbook, and which ones don’t. Out of all the twenty textbooks I’ve rented in my life, I’ve only cracked open six of them. And I still made Dean’s List!
  17. I know making friends is really difficult, but try to reach out to other incoming freshmen over social media before classes start. The first friendships you make don’t always last, but at least you’ll have someone in the same boat as you to help you get through the first few weeks. For example, my first friend group turned out to be a bunch of assholes. This is totally normal and almost always to be expected.
  18. Everyone feels like the loser in their first semester.
  19. Be prepared to run out of dining dollars within the first month of school.
  20. Depending on your major, you’ll probably have to do a lot less supply shopping than you did in high school (albeit, a lot more dorm shopping.) Last semester, all I bought was five accordion folders, a couple packs of loose-leaf paper, and some pens. I still haven’t run out of the paper or pens, and the folders are in great enough condition for next semester, too. (I got them from here:
  21. If you’re not careful, your entire life and paycheck will be consumed by Amazon Prime and Target.
  22. If you’re striving to have more personable relationships with your professors, consider going to a small school over a large one. I know all my professors by name, and they all know me too. It definitely makes learning new material much easier.
  23. Don’t assume that everyone living around you will be quiet and considerate. Unless you live in designated quiet housing, you’d better get used to people drunkenly running past your door screaming at noon.
  24. I didn’t know how to nap until after I got to college. Now, I average 3-4 naps per week.
  25. It is possible to avoid having classes on Fridays. In all my three semesters of college, I have only had one class on a Friday, and that was freshman year.
  26. You may think a 9:30am class sounds like a late start, but honey, you’ve got a big storm coming.
  27. Doing stupid things in college is inevitable. I dyed my freshman year roommate’s hair blue with my bare hands and then watched her try to wash it out two hours later, only to semi-permanently stain the shower.
  28. Speaking of showers, communal bathrooms can be pretty horrific. Centipedes love to chill there. Prepare yourself for that, and ALWAYS wear shower shoes!!!!
  29. It can be extremely difficult to secure a single dorm on campus, and usually comes with an additional fee. However (mostly due to medical reasons), I have been able to live in a single for the past two semesters, and it is the best thing that has happened to me in college so far. Besides getting an education.
  30. College isn’t about always making the right decision. The only important thing is that you strive to be the best version of yourself as you possibly can be. It’s difficult at times, but at the end of the day, you’re making memories and experiences that you’ll remember and smile at for a lifetime.

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