College Tips No One Told Me

The summer before I came to Brandeis, I was obsessed with college prep videos. I watched everything from “Casual Everyday College Looks” to “My Greek Life Horror Story” to “How to Survive Dorm Bathrooms” and I ate it all up. But when I got here, as prepared as I thought I was, there were still some things that I had to learn the hard way: from experience. As the second semester of my freshman year revs into high gear, here are some of the most important things I’ve come to understand:


You have to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.


In college, your parents aren’t signing you up for soccer practice or dance class or telling you where to go to make friends. You have to do that yourself. It’s up to you to go to club meetings, sign up for email lists, talk to professors, and form deeper friendships with the people around you. And trust me, it’s worth it.


It’s okay to not do everything.


Brandeis is one of those schools where it seems like everyone has three majors and two minors, takes five classes a semester, plays a sport, sings in an a capella group, volunteers with the Waltham Group, has two jobs, and writes for the Hoot, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same. It’s better to put your heart and soul into three things than try to split yourself up over fifteen.


You don’t have to do everything on your own.


If you’re struggling in a class, there are a ton of people here to help you, from professors to TAs to BUGS tutors to friends who have taken the class before. You just have to swallow your pride and ask. And asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, either. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be, either.


Go to free events.


With so many clubs and organizations on campus, there’s never a weekend where nothing is happening, so take advantage of that! See an improv show or orchestra concert, play a game of trivia or bingo, or go to one of the many events put on by culture clubs and learn something new. WBRS concerts are also super fun, and there’s usually pizza, too! (Shameless plug.) Finding out about all the goings-on is the only reason I’m still active on Facebook.


Eat some fruits/veggies.


I know the vegetables from the dining hall can taste like mush and the fruits can be frozen, but they’re still good for you. And you’ll feel gross if you don’t eat them. My favorite ways to get them into my diet are fresh raspberries (they sell them at the C-Store), applesauce, and baby carrots (with ranch dressing).


You might not be best friends with your roommate, and that’s okay.


Of course, you should get along with your roommate if you can, but you don’t have to eat every meal together and spend every waking moment in each other’s company, or even talk all the time when you’re both in the room. A relationship where the two of you can sit comfortably in each other’s silence is just as good a relationship as any other.


You might not make friends the way you expect.


When I didn’t click with anyone in my orientation group, I thought I wasn’t going to make any friends ever, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Once you start getting involved on campus, you can’t help but make friends, and I’ve met some of mine in orchestra, at the radio station, and at the one anime club meeting I'm actually able to go to every semester. And when one girl in my English class last semester set up a group chat to organize a trip to a bookstore in Waltham, the girls in that group ended up being my best friends. I never could have seen that coming.