A Pre-Collegiette's Guide to the First Week of College

It feels like just yesterday you were throwing your graduation cap in the air and vowing to have the best summer ever. But believe it or not, many of you are only a few weeks away from becoming an official collegiette. While you’re so excited for the best four years of your life to begin, you’re probably starting to freak out about that first week at school. Between making new friends and navigating your way through campus, it can be a little stressful. With our collegiette-approved tips, the first week of school will be a breeze!

Day One

The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here: move-in day. Whether you hopped on a plane or packed up the car with your parents, today marks the beginning of your collegiette experience. Alas, your day isn’t limited to unpacking a plethora of boxes and decorating your side of the room.

Meeting your roommate

Some of you may have had that awkward, “I’m living with you and I’ll bring the T.V.!” conversation with your roommate. Others may have met up with your roomie over the summer (brownie points for your outgoing initiative). Whether you know your roommate or not, the anticipation is over – you’re officially living with her. While you may be nervous to live with a stranger, take this first day to bond. Break the ice by complimenting some of her pictures or even a book that’s lying on her desk. Not only are you showing a genuine interest in her life, you may also learn that the two of you have something in common. After the two of you unpack, suggest hitting up the dining hall. The two of you can bond over the delicious pizza or questionable chicken.

Introducing yourself to your R.A.

Chances are your RA – which is collegiette slang for Resident Assistant – will come to your room and introduce him or herself. Since your RA makes the rules and writes people up if a problem occurs (e.g. noise violations, possession of alcohol, etc.), make sure to get on your RA’s good side, stat! Get to know your RA by asking questions about his or her major, grade, and extracurricular activities. If you haven’t run into your RA yet, go to him or her! Usually, an R.A. will have a sign on his or her dorm room’s door, so this search will be no needle in a haystack. Unless your RA is busy, take this time to introduce yourself. Aside from being your floor’s king or queen, your RA is an upperclassman, so you can also take this time to get some of your questions answered.

Day Two

How was your first night in your dorm? Sure, you may not love your mattress pad yet, but you’ll get used to it. Get ready ladies: today is your first day as an official collegiette.

Matriculation

Matricuwhat? Soon after you move in, you’ll be whisked away to a grandiose ceremony that marks your transition from pre-collegiette to collegiette (hooray)! Your parents might stay for matriculation… and they’ll probably cry and/or take a ton of photos. At most matriculation ceremonies, there will be long speeches. A lot of long speeches. You may stop paying attention between the welcome speech and your Dean of Students’ monologue, and that’s okay! Instead of burying your face in your cell, take this opportunity to (quietly) introduce yourself to the people sitting around you. A simple joke about how long the speeches are could lead to a new friendship!

Bonding with your floormates

Although some say making friends on your floor is just like making friends at sleep-away camp, what are you supposed to do if cabins and friendship bracelets weren’t your thing? “Leaving your door open is a great way to meet people on your floor,” says Kimberly Horner from The College of New Jersey. Since everyone’s in the same boat, your RA will probably arrange a couple floor events so make sure you attend.

Related: 6 Ways to Make College Move-In Less of a Hassle

Day Three

Who knew that you can buy coffee with your dining points? Life is great! Speaking of coffee, where is the closest Starbucks?

Buying Books

If you haven’t already purchased your books, you may be tempted to follow the massive horde of people headed to the bookstore. However, we urge you to stray away from the pack. Not only will the store resemble Macy’s on Black Friday, but you can find better deals. “You can save so much money by using Amazon or half.com,” says Alaine Perconti from Miami University of Ohio. “The bookstore is easy and convenient, but books are so expensive so any money you can save is big!” To figure out which books you need, you can usually search your classes on your bookstore’s website. If that doesn’t work, wait until the first day of classes. “Sometimes the professors change the book or tell you that a book can be downloaded online for free,” says Erica Avesian from the University of Michigan. Since the first day of classes is usually filled with reading the syllabus, you can get away with not having your books right away.

Getting comfortable with your campus

Some campuses may be easy to navigate; others are a jungle. Instead of having a mild to severe panic attack on the first day of classes, spend a few hours exploring what your university has to offer. While some colleges offer tours the first few days, test your knowledge by going without a guide. Make sure to take note of major landmarks while you search for the following locations:

  • Student health services
  • Dining halls
  • The nearest pharmacy or convenience store
  • The gym
  • Where your classes are located
  • The student center
  • The closest bus or subway stop

To make this event a million times better, bring your roommate along. That way, the two of you can laugh about that time you couldn’t find your way back to your dorm. Speaking of getting lost, don’t be embarrassed to ask for directions! Ask a student who seems to know where they’re going (bonus points if you ask a cute collegent).

Day Four

You made it to the gym and back in one panic-free piece? Congratulations! On your walk, you may have noticed all the welcoming banners. If the number of “Welcome Freshmen” signs haven’t proved that colleges go all out for incoming collegiettes, the slew of welcome week activities will! Don’t take these events lightly because they are prime opportunities to make new friends.

Making friends outside of your floor

As much as you love your new floormates, it’s imperative that you make other friends as well. After all, aren’t cliques so high school? Since everyone’s looking to make new friends during the first few weeks of school, unleash your social butterfly pronto. Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. In fact, going to all your school’s welcome week events is half the battle. “You will seriously feel so much better connected to people on campus if you attend all orientation week events,” says Katherine Mirani from Northwestern University. Break the ice with that charismatic boy by telling him that you liked his “ice breaker” answer. Or compliment that super trendy girl on her sartorially superb sandals. From there, don’t be afraid to ask your new friends about hometowns, majors, and even residence halls. Once you’ve covered the basics, making friends is as easy as it was in kindergarten because, as in kindergarten, everyone’s looking to make new friends too!

Welcome Week Activities

While you now know that you’re supposed to make friends during welcome week activities, what does welcome week mean? Essentially, your lovely school organizes a plethora of events so you can assimilate into college. Though every school has a different agenda, specific academic programs usually provide a lot of scavenger hunts, barbecues, and seminars. Most likely, you will receive an email or flyer that’s inviting you to all the fun. If you were concerned there won’t be loads of corny icebreakers and free swag, don’t worry—there will be. But isn’t that the fun of college? Just remember to be outgoing, energetic, and enthusiastic!

Day Five

After a couple collegiette days, you’re starting to get really comfortable on campus! Social life? Check. Academic life? You bought the books, so you’re good for now. Extracurriculars? Uh...

Signing up for extracurriculars

Don’t be surprised if your new collegiette status prompts you to be as school-spirited as humanly possible: it’s completely normal. Side effects of school spirit may include buying tons of college apparel and, more importantly, signing up for a million extracurricular activities. Since the next four years is all about figuring out who you are, take a chance and sign up for a bunch of different clubs. You’ll never know how much you adore Quidditch if you don’t sign up for your school’s intramural! During the beginning of school, most universities have an extracurricular expo where you can learn about all the clubs on campus. Sign up for the ones that truly interest you. If your school doesn’t offer one of these club conventions, look on your school’s website and email the clubs you’re interested in about how to join.

Related: 7 Unexpected Places to Meet Your College Friends

Day Six

The term TGIF exists for a reason, collegiettes.

Party time! 

Now that your bustling social life is underway, the moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here: your very first party as a collegiette. It’s like a debutante ball, just without the Blair Waldorf-approved evening gowns (think skinny jeans, sultry party tops, and “to die for” shoes instead). Though you may want to dive right into the world of crazy college parties, make sure you don’t end up regretting your night of fun. “Don’t be ‘that girl’ the first week that has a drunken tragedy,” says Lauren Macmullen from Boston University. “You want to make a good impression.” Instead of cutting the keg stand line, take your first few outings to meet people. Speaking of socializing, make sure you adhere to the Buddy System. It may sound lame, but it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry (especially in an environment where drunk collegents only have one thing on their minds… and it’s not flip cup). With all that in mind, remember to have fun. It’s a party after all!

Day Seven

Is it just me or was your first week of college on fast forward? Time flies when you’re having fun. Unfortunately, this week of social outings and free swag will come to a screeching halt soon. Although college is still loads of fun, you do have to go to school.

Find a study spot

By now, you should know what kind of studying atmosphere you prefer. Are you the quiet library kind of gal or are you craving a chaotic space? Before classes begin, head to your desired study spot for a test run. You can learn all about the location’s food and drink regulations as well as WiFi access. Though your new home away from home may look deserted, finding a place to study early will allow you to focus on your work.

Final preparations for your first day

Though you already have all your textbooks (or have ordered them), there are a few things you need to do before your first day of school. Sure, classes don’t start until Monday; however, who really wants to wait until the last minute? Exactly. For a stress-free first day, there are some simple tasks you must do beforehand:

  • Decide whether you should use notebooks, an iPad, or your laptop
  • If notebooks are your thing, pick up some pens and paper
  • Write down what building and room each of your classes is in
  • Figure out how much time you need to get ready based on how far away your classes are from your dorm
  • Print a copy of each class’s syllabus
  • Pick out your first day of school outfit (I don’t care how old you are, it still matters) 

With school supplies, and a rocking outfit, how could anything go wrong?

So the first week is over, now what? We’re pleased to tell you that the most stressful part is over (well, except maybe for your first final). Sure, you’ll encounter some collegiette dilemmas; however, if you can survive your first week of college, there’s nothing you can’t do.

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About The Author

Kelsey is a senior at Boston University, studying Magazine Journalism  in the College of Communication. As a magazine junkie and fashion fanatic, she loves being a part of the Her Campus team! At BU, Kelsey is president of Ed2010 at Boston University.  She has interned for Time Out New York, Lucky, Anthropologie, and Marie Claire. Kelsey also has a fashion blog, The Trendologist, where she covers the latest trends, fashion shows, and red carpet reports. When she isn't busy, Kelsey loves hanging out with her friends and family, shopping, reading style blogs, going for a nice jog, listening to music, creating baked goods in the kitchen, watching movies, and eating tons of frozen yogurt and sushi! After graduation, Kelsey hopes to work as an editor for a fashion magazine. Follow Kelsey on Twitter and Instagram at @kmulvs and don't  forget to check out her "Catwalk to Campus" blog posts!