One of the first things you need to know about making your official debut as a collegiette is how to navigate the complexities of the college social scene. The minute you set foot on campus, you’re going to be bombarded with new names and faces, all desperate to lodge themselves in your memory. Keeping them all straight can be a huge hassle, especially when you’re still figuring out your major, the best eateries on campus, and exactly how late you can sleep in before your 9 a.m. class. Lucky for you, we’ve laid all the important college relationships you’ll make your first year and how to make the most of them!
1. The Roommate
Welcome to college… and get ready to start sharing your closet space. Most budding collegiettes aren’t exactly jazzed about suddenly having half as much space for their shoes, but meeting your roomie can also be your first shot at finding a college BFF. The two of you will be spending a lot of time together, whether you’re making a midnight run to the dining hall or silently cramming in the dorm over way too many cups of coffee. You’ll want your room to be a safe space to hang out and relax in at the end of the day, and both of you will be way more comfortable if walking back to your dorm means going home to a friend.
Moving in with a stranger can be scary, and it may be tempting to move in with a friend from high school who happens to be at the same college as you. Unfortunately, a lot of collegiettes find out the hard way that living in the close quarters of a shoebox-sized dorm room can wear on even the tightest friendship… especially when she gets a boyfriend and starts sexiling you. Check out how to deal with love-related roomie issues.
There’s no way to guarantee that you and your new roomie will click right away, but you can make sure you get off on the right foot! Since most colleges will let you know who you’re living with before you set foot on campus, look her up on Facebook so you can get to know each other a little. Ask her about her general studying and sleeping habits so you can be respectful of them and so she knows you’re making an effort to get along. And, for some pre-move-in bonding, see if the two you can come up with some fun ways to decorate your dorm! Your DIY interior design Pinterest board may finally come in handy.
2. The RA
Residential advisers, or RAs, are upperclassmen employed by the school to ensure that your dorm living runs smoothly, make you feel at home, and also enforce university dorm policies. Freshmen’s RAs are generally pretty attentive, so you’ll probably meet yours almost as soon as you move in. Even though they’re only two or three years older than you, RAs represent the most immediate authority figures dictating the success of your dorm room living experience. Befriending your RA can be key to that success, and, since they aren’t really that much older than you, they’re usually not too hard to win over. Of course, you still have to follow their rules, but they’re more likely to let minor offenses slide if you take some time to hang out with them in the common room while you’re both cramming for an exam.
RAs are there to help you and your floormates, and that doesn’t just mean shutting down dorm parties during finals week. Starting college means getting hit by a flood of unfamiliar people, classes, clubs, and more, and all that new information can be overwhelming. Feeling lost or homesick is totally normal, and turning to your RA for advice or just someone to vent to is usually way more comforting that making an appointment with the dean of students. And, if you’re really struggling with the adjustment to college, your RA will probably know a helpful on-campus resource that can help you, even if they can’t.
3. The Unintelligible Professor
Every collegiette will experience the joys of the lecture hall, and, with it, the challenges of connecting with a professor 20 rows in front of you who’s mumbling into his lectern. Not only are there hundreds of other students in the auditorium, but between technical difficulties, soft-spoken TAs (teaching assistants), and chatty classmates, it can be nearly impossible to even decipher the lecture, let alone ask questions or express your opinions.
Your priority number one should be hearing enough of the lecture to scrape together enough notes for the first exam. Your best bet is to befriend a classmate, whether it’s the girl with a color-coded notebook sitting in the front row, the cute techie who’s actually able to type fast enough to keep up with any mile-a-minute speaker, or even just someone you vaguely recognize from orientation. Between the two of you, you’ll (hopefully) be able to piece the key points of the course together. And, if you’re really struggling, don’t be afraid to speak with the prof or TA during their office hours. If you didn’t catch when those were, check the syllabus you picked up on the first day!
4. The Cute Guy on Your Floor
New school, new guys. And, lucky for you, some of the first ones you meet will live right across the hall! There’ll be athletes, political activists, future Frat Stars, artsy theater guys, ambitious pre-meds, and so many more. You’ll be spending a lot of time with these guys, from the vaguely painful icebreakers your RA makes you do to the towel-clad sprint from the communal bathroom that’ll make you wish you’d listened to your mom about buying a bathrobe. Befriending these guys will be easy and convenient since, not only does he live two feet from your door, he’ll also be starting fresh at the same time you are and equally eager to meet new people.
When it comes to dating or hooking up with one of these guys, however, beware. It can be great at first, thanks to the convenience factor. If your roommate’s home, it’ll be just as easy to go across the hall to his room to hang out, and you’ll probably have a lot of mutual friends, making parties and group dates way easier. As tempting as this set-up is, those close quarters can turn from a blessing to a fatal curse the second you break up. You’ll be unable to avoid seeing him on a near-daily basis, and all those mutual friends will suddenly be divided. However, not all freshman floor relationships end badly—some don’t end at all—so don’t be afraid to go for it if you really like Cutie Across the Hall. But give some thought to the consequences before diving in on move-in-day.
5. The Girl in All Your Classes
As a freshman, you’ll probably have a lot of prerequisite classes the university wants you to take to make sure you’re getting a well-rounded education. That unfortunately translates to a lot of classes you have zero interest in taking (hello, Econ 101). Before you get too bummed about having to buy a 15-pound textbook you’re not even interested in, remember that every other freshman on campus is doing the same thing, and mutual suffering is a great first step to friendship!
Once classes start, you’ll start seeing the same faces everywhere, and usually one face in particular will start to stand out: the girl in all your classes. Maybe you’re both bio majors or just following the same exploratory freshman path, but whatever the reason, this girl is everywhere. You sit in the same lecture halls, take the same shortcuts to class, and probably even find yourselves standing in the same line for your afternoon latte.
Since you can’t seem to get away from each other anyway, you probably have something in common. So, why fight it? The next time you see her looking for a spot in a crowded classroom, offer her the seat next to you and see if she wants to get coffee after class. Plus, someone taking all the same classes as you is an ideal study partner, so make sure you get her number so the two of you can slave over those review questions together!
6. Your Orientation BFF
The first day of freshman orientation will be insanity. Thousands of new students from all over the world, regardless of gender, nationality, or extracurricular preferences, will be temporarily obsessed by the same goal: make friends, and make them fast. Walking from one information session to the next all alone isn’t exactly thrilling, but everyone else is in the same boat and will also be desperately searching for friends. More people will ask for your number during the few days of orientation than they will for the rest of your college career, and one of these people will probably become your Orientation BFF.
Your Orientation BFF is one of the first people who cheerfully introduces herself to you with a question about the campus, cafeteria, or some other trivia you probably won’t have the answer to, but that doesn’t matter. This girl (or guy) will give you someone to weather these early days with, even if you don’t end up having that much in common. She’ll ensure you don’t end up eating dinner alone and will give you something positive to report back to your parents so they don’t worry about how you’re adjusting to college life.
But don’t give up on her when you get busy with classes! Text her for dinner or a Starbucks study break during the first week of classes and see what extracurriculars she’s thinking about picking up. Need a date for the first big football game? Give her a call! And, who knows? If you’re lucky, your Orientation BFF just might turn out to be a lifelong friend.
7. The Unofficial Mentor
This is one intercollegiette relationship you won’t want to skip out on. Having an older and wiser friend in college is crucial for breaking into the social scene. This friend, unlike your RA or older sibling, won’t be obligated by the school or your parents to make sure you’re on your best behavior. She’ll be a huge help when you start looking for parties beyond your freshman floor, and she can also clue you in to the best extracurriculars to get involved with.
Besides getting you into those exclusive upperclassmen parties, this friend will also look out for you. She’ll know which guys are bad news, which frats to stay away from, and which cafeteria special will probably give you food poisoning. The best way to find this life-saving mentor is by getting involved on campus. Whether you’re into art, triathlons, or saving the whales, your school will probably have a club for it. Joining one of these organizations will give you an instant “in” with whatever upperclassmen are involved, and from there, mentorship is just around the corner.
So, even though you’re saying goodbye to your high school friends, you’re about to break into a way more exciting social scene with tons of new people to meet! Sure, it can be a little intimidating at first, but now that you know which relationships to be on the lookout for and how to handle them, you’ve got nothing to worry about! Your collegiette social experience is going to be a breeze. Now, all you have to worry about is finishing your homework in time for your dinner plans…