Regardless of whether you’ve spent the summer working at your dream internship, grinding at your 9-to-5 or posting enough vacation pictures to put the Kardashians to shame, the glorious time that we know as summer vacation is slowly but surely coming to an end. Mid-to-late August is a time for trading in your favorite bikini for your go-to lecture leggings and your beach reads for textbooks.
Whether you’ve been looking forward to the first week of college or it’s a narrative that you would very much like to be excluded from, here are some of the highs (and lows) of kicking off fall semester.
High: First Week = Syllabus Week
Whoever said syllabus week isn’t the best week of the semester was seriously disturbed. We all know that it doesn’t get better than no homework and getting out of your morning lecture early enough to go back to sleep. Syllabus week lets you live your best life, so take advantage of it! It’s the one week of the semester that you won’t regret staying up until 2 a.m. catching up on summer stories with your roommates.
Low: Moving Into Your Dorm
Move-in day will make you regret buying anything and everything that now needs to somehow end up in your dorm room or apartment. Knowing that you have to unpack everything that you, at one point, spent time packing is definitely a stress-inducing situation.
How To Deal:
Not only is trying to unpack everything you own in one day unrealistic, but it’s also not very much fun. To ensure that the day goes as smoothly as possible, make a list of everything you want to bring and plan ahead! Check with your roommates to see what day and time they’ll be arriving. If they’d planned on moving in on the same day as you, plan to help each other. The more hands you have the easier the process will be.
Multiple trips are never enjoyable, but they’re often very necessary. Look into buying or renting a portable dolly so you and your family don’t have to worry about lugging your extremely heavy (but definitely necessary) fall wardrobe back and forth on multiple trips.
Related: 6 Ways to Make College Move-In Less of a Hassle
High: Seeing Your Friends Again – Or Making New Ones!
Sure, it was great seeing your roommate Snapchat her way through her summer abroad in Italy and checking your college BFF’s Instagram to see her latest posts from her internship, but nothing beats being back on campus with your squad. The first week is a time for sharing summer stories, talking until 2 a.m. and reconnecting with all of your friends that you didn’t get to see over the summer.
Low: Dealing With Your Roommates
Whether you’re living with your best friends or complete strangers, dealing with roommate drama is just a normal part of college life. And unfortunately, there is no syllabus week-like grace period when it comes to arguing over whose turn it is to wash the dishes.
How To Deal:
In order to start the year off on a good note, try having a conversation within the first few days where you lay out the dos and don’ts of the semester so that everyone can start off on the same page. Whether you discuss managing living expenses, house rules or just how often your roommate is allowed to have her SO over, definitely have the conversation ASAP to avoid any unnecessary arguments.
Her Campus Associate Editor Tianna Soto moved in with close friends during college, which didn’t go as well as you might expect. “Because you’re in close quarters with your roommates all the time, it’s natural for your quirks and habits to clash, and for there to be conflicts every once in a while — but don’t worry!” she says. “It’s possible to make it through those hurdles. Have clear communication, set healthy boundaries, and don’t be afraid to voice your needs, even if it feels awkward. You may be sharing a space, but your comfort matters, too.”
High: Showing Off Your New Wardrobe
If you start planning your outfit for the first day of classes weeks before classes actually start, you are not alone. At the start of every semester, the campus is your runway, and you are more than ready to strut your stuff and show off the fabulous new additions to your wardrobe.
“One of my favorite parts of starting a new semester is picking out the outfits I’ll wear for those first few days,” says Shelly, 21. “Wearing something new always gives me a boost of confidence — and I usually need it!”
It’s also awesome to know that you can look great without breaking the bank. “I would say the best part for me about starting off a new term is buying a few new pieces to refresh my wardrobe,” says Madeline, 21. “I try to go by the rule that I consign/donate a piece before I buy a new one. That way, my closet stays feeling fresh year-round.”
Not only are fashion week-worthy outfits an incentive to approach your first week back with your best foot forward, but it is also the perfect time to wear your favorite pieces before you remember how comfortable your leggings are.
Low: Dealing With “Lasts”
For every freshman enjoying their first week, there is a senior dreading their last first week. It can really put a damper on an otherwise exciting few days knowing that you are facing the beginning of the end of your time as an undergrad. However, as the saying goes: When one door closes, another opens. You shouldn’t waste your last couple of semesters focusing on the fact that you are facing your “lasts,” but rather really take the opportunity to create memories that will outlast your time in college.
“As a rising senior, I’m very much dreading beginning my ‘year of lasts,’” says Lexi, 22. “It will be my last year of undergrad, last year with Her Campus, last opportunity to learn from the wonderful professors at Kenyon, last choir concert…the list goes on. However, at the same time, I know that senior year is going to be a ton of fun. I have the opportunity to take great classes and make lasting memories with my friends.”
How To Deal:
Instead of dwelling on the fact that your time at your university is almost over, focus on making the most of it. Get together with your friends at the beginning of the semester and create a bucket list. Try to cross everything off of your list by your last finals week. You’ll be so busy blowing up your friends’ Snapchat feeds with all of your bucket list activities that you won’t have time to be upset!
High: A Fresh Start
Each new semester offers a completely fresh start. You have a new schedule, new classes and a new opportunity to make yourself proud and live up to your potential! Establish a goal for yourself at the beginning of the semester and see it through. On the first day of school, you have a clean slate from syllabus week to finals week to make the semester whatever you want it to be — and that’s definitely something to look forward to.
Low: Learning Your New Schedule
It seems like just when you have your schedule down pat, it’s the end of the semester and you have to mentally prepare to walk to the wrong class on autopilot for at least the first week of the new semester. Figuring out where your classes are, how far your trek across campus is and how early you need to wake up to be on time is a lot to handle in your first week.
How To Deal:
A day or two before the semester starts, grab a few friends and go find your classes. It’s much less stressful to do a test run instead of running around campus on the first day of class because you have no idea what room you’re in, let alone what side of campus you’re on.
Her Campus Contributing Editor Erica Kam remembers fumbling through her new schedule. “My first day of freshman year began on a Tuesday, but I accidentally thought it was a Monday and went to the wrong class at first,” she recalls. “Not the best first impression — I showed up late, out of breath, and embarrassed — but when I went up to the professor afterward to apologize, he was totally understanding.” Erica also recommends figuring out where your buildings are before the first day, and doing a test run for each day’s schedule. “[Knowning] whether there’s any strange hallways or staircases you need to know about, or if the elevator is notoriously always broken, will give you peace of mind on the first day, because you’re less likely to get lost,” she says.
High: Lots Of Free Stuff
The first week back is typically synonymous with lots of free goodies, from food to T-shirts. Clubs, organizations and your college are all trying to make a good first impression, and who are you to decline their generosity in the form of pizza? Between all the sign-up sheets and freebies, you might just find a new organization to join, too!
Low: Buying textbooks
“I can’t wait to see all the new textbooks I need for this semester,” said no one ever. No one likes to spend money on things that they don’t really want anyway, and textbooks definitely fall under that category. They’re expensive, heavy and half of the time the professor uses the textbook for all of two class sessions.
“I’d say the worst part is having to buy textbooks,” says Madeline. “I normally rent mine or buy them for cheaper on Amazon or Chegg if I can, but some textbooks you have to shell out the big bucks for if they’re custom university editions.”
How To Deal:
Try not to buy your textbooks at full retail price whenever possible. Usually paperback copies and e-books are the less pricey options, and they work just as well — especially if you don’t really plan on using them. There are plenty of sites out there that can help you score cheap textbooks!
Related: The Roommate Contract You Actually Need
High: Renewed Freedom
While it was great spending some quality time with your family for a month or two, you are definitely ready for some much needed independence. It was getting a bit old having to all but write a dissertation on your whereabouts after a late night out. After a whole summer away, you’re more than ready to take on every party and group outing that college life has to offer.
Low: Return Of Poor Time Management Skills
With great power (AKA that freedom we were talking about earlier) comes great responsibility. After an entire summer where you may or may not have refined your time management skills, it can be difficult to use them to make sure you have your life together on the first week. During syllabus week, it seems like a great idea to stay up all hours of the night and decline to get a head start on the reading for your English class. In fact, you probably won’t even start feeling the weight of your first week decisions until the end of said week.
“My least favorite part about the first week back would have to be the free time that disappears the moment classes start,” says Chloe, 22. “I love being busy, but once classes start, it is sometimes hard to go from no-school mode to school mode.”
How To Deal:
Give yourself guidelines the first week that will make the rest of the semester easier for you. If you know you have an 8 a.m. lecture, don’t let yourself get in the habit of staying up until three in the morning the first week. If you know that you’re not the best at staying on top of your reading assignments, set aside an hour or so each week to get it done. The habits that you establish during the first week of classes will stick with you for the rest of the semester — so they might as well be good ones!
By the time you get to college, the first week of school is definitely nothing new. There are always ups and downs, but usually everything has a way of working itself out in the end. Focus on enjoying the fun and positive things that the first few days bring! And for all of the not-so-fun things, keep these tips in mind to ensure a great start to your semester.
“Don’t beat yourself up too much about the growing pains; everyone else has experienced them, and you’re doing just fine!” Erica advises. Just remember you are far from the first to go through this.