College is an exciting journey — a time of self-discovery, relationship building and decision-making. Pre-collegiettes, we hope you are ready! But when you finally arrive on campus, we just ask one thing: don’t be that freshman. Ask any upperclassman, and nine times out of 10 they can point out the newbies — the students walking to class in herds (and getting there 20 minutes early), wearing their Sunday best, sporting an oh-so fashionable lanyard and giving their parents a play-by-play of their day over the phone. We don’t expect you to look and act like a senior on your first day, but there are ways to avoid becoming the stereotypical freshie.
1. Toss the Lanyards
We hate to break it to you: lanyards aren’t cute accessories. Nothing screams “freshman” more than wearing one around your neck wherever you go. Yes, getting your new school ID is super exciting. But trust us, it will be perfectly safe in your backpack, wallet, or pocket! If you want to keep your ID readily accessible, Vera Bradley’s Zip ID case ($12 at verabradley.com) and Merona’s Hard Case Wallet ($12.99 at target.com) are great options to try.
2. Upgrade to College Gear
Don’t make the mistake of wearing your high school Class of 2013 shirt around campus (do you want everyone to know you’re a freshman? The answer is no). Once you move on to college, the only socially acceptable time to wear your high school gear is while sleeping or exercising (it’s a proven fact). Now that you’re in the big leagues, it’s time to start dressing like it! If you can’t seem to let go of your old tees, don’t worry. You can turn them into a fancy T-shirt quilt for your dorm.
Before classes start, you should pick up your university shirts, sweaters, hats, jewelry and anything else your heart desires. But beware: only freshmen wear it all day, every day. It’s okay to show school spirit, but do it in small doses! Instead of getting your entire wardrobe from the campus store, there are always ways to rep your school spirit in a unique way.
3. Use a Mobile Map
Trying to find your classes on the first day of school is the worst. But you know what’s even worse? Looking like a lost freshman, hauling around a giant map of campus. If you need directions, start by using a map on your phone to avoid any judgmental stares from upperclassmen. You should check to see if your school has an app; many university apps include a campus map for your convenience! If you have time before the first day of classes, why not scope out the area? Walking to each of your class buildings will help make the route more familiar, and you can also estimate how long it will take to get around campus. Don’t be that freshman running to class… just don’t.
4. Get to Class on Time (NOT Early!)
There’s nothing wrong with going to class early, but camping outside of the classroom for 20 minutes is definitely a freshman move. If you’re worried about being late, leave your dorm 15 minutes earlier than necessary and find a spot near your class (not immediately outside the door) to relax if you get there before class starts. This is the perfect time to prepare for the day by reading over the syllabus and any other materials the professor provided. Also, make sure you know what time the class officially starts. At some universities, classes will technically start 10 minutes later than posted on the schedules. It’s always super awkward walking in at the wrong time, so double check beforehand!
5. Be Modest
You should be proud of your accomplishments; after all, you made it to college! However, we don’t recommend sharing your ACT/SAT scores and high school GPA over small talk. Nobody likes the girl who spends 99 percent of the conversation bragging about herself (seriously, stop talking). You may have worked really hard in high school, but now everyone is at an equal playing field. Even though you might be totally amazing, try getting to know where your peers are from and what they’re studying instead! This will show you’re open to meeting new people, and hey, you might make a friend or two.
6. Stay Classy at Parties
Now that you’re free from parents and curfews, you are your own boss! With the much-deserved freedom, some collegiettes go a little overboard. You may really want to impress the cute guy on the dance floor, but pounding back the shots won’t help you gain confidence. And if your favorite song comes on, it’s cool to show it — but please avoid dancing on tables and other potentially unstable objects.
Unless you want to be the star of the next “I’m Shmacked” video (a YouTube series that features crazy parties on college campuses) remember to stay in control of your drinking. There are several ways to do so:
First, start your night by eating a proper, carbohydrate-filled dinner. It’s never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach, because you will become intoxicated very quickly. Having a full stomach helps absorb the alcohol, slowing it from entering the bloodstream too quickly.
Know Your Limits
To learn your limits when it comes to alcohol, you definitely should keep track of what you’re drinking. Mobile apps such as DrinkBuddy ($3.99 on iTunes) can make the job easier for you so that you can enjoy the night and stay safe at the same time! You can also have a sober friend help keep you accountable. If you aren’t used to drinking alcohol, try setting a drink limit at the beginning of the night and stick to it! You will learn what your body can handle and what’s too much.
If you plan to have more than one drink, start alternating between alcoholic beverages and water. Drinking alcohol dehydrates your body, so it’s important to get water back into your system during a long night of partying.
7. Distance Yourself From Home
After spending the first few days on campus, it’s completely normal to feel homesick. Unlike high school, you are on your own! However, this doesn’t mean that you should call Mom and Dad whenever you have the chance. And, unless you sincerely want to make enemies with your roommate, don’t spend the entire night locked up in your room, chatting away with your BFF or boyfriend. An occasional Skype date will ease the homesickness without overdoing it! If you’re constantly on the phone, you’ll miss out on potential roommate and dorm bonding, a crucial part of freshman year.
Going from high school to college is a big transition, and it’s normal to feel anxious! You’ll be in a new setting with unfamiliar people and classes unlike anything before. Just breathe! As the weeks go by, you’ll start feeling more comfortable. While it’s important to do well in class, don’t let homework consume your life. And please, don’t stress over an A-. Once you find your perfect study habits, it’ll be smooth sailing. You have four years to figure out college, so it’s okay to have some “typical freshman” tendencies at first! You might not be the coolest, most put-together person on campus yet — but with these tips, you’ll have a head start.