Real Advice From Real Seniors: A CofC Freshman Survival Guide

Welcome to college, freshies! We’re so excited to have you here with us at the College of Charleston. Say hello to the best four years of your life, and get ready for a whole lot of fun. Here at CofC we’re lucky enough not only to attend an amazing academic institution, but also because we’re immersed in the unique culture and history of Charleston. Hats off to you for picking this phenomenal city to call your home! We certainly enjoy it. As you begin this new journey, we’d like to offer some useful tips and suggestions to help make your freshman year the best possible! We sure wish someone had been around to let us know the ins and outs. You can thank us later.


1. Buy a rain jacket, rain boots, and waterproof backpack

Charleston is notorious for our severe rain, and some of us learned the hard way that you must prepare in advance. The dorms are located on campus, so you’ll only have to walk a short distance. However, if you find yourself caught in a downpour you’ll definitely want to have the right gear.

“The first time I got caught in Charleston rain, I was riding my bike home from the library. I had a rain jacket, but my backpack was cloth material so I wore it and put the jacket on over. The rain was coming down hard, and when I stopped at a stoplight my backpack snapped and fell in a giant puddle. All of my assignments were soaked. I bought a waterproof backpack the next day.”


2. Don’t buy your textbooks until the first day of class

We know it’s exciting to get your books and materials ready for the first day of class, but some professors don’t use their textbook even if it’s listed as required. It’s better to wait until they let you know on the first day whether or not the book is necessary. You’ll save money big time!


3. If you get a bike, get a cheap one

Don’t get us started on bike theft in this city-it’s terrible! If you’re dying to get a cute new ride to take to class, we suggest buying one cheap. Bikes are more likely to get taken on campus, and it’s not worth it to spend all your money on a top-of-the-line bicycle.


“I studied abroad in Europe for an entire month and for sure thought my bike would be gone when I returned. To my surprise it wasn’t, but the next week I went to ride it to the gym and it had been taken. Bike theft can happen anytime, and definitely when you least expect it.”


4. Plan activities with your roommates

Whether you arranged to live with your roomies or did a completely random assignment, it’s a great idea to plan activities to get to know them better! You’ll be spending a lot of time with these ladies for the next year, so building a good relationship with them is essential. The last thing anyone wants is to have bad vibes in the dorm.


5. Take the time to explore Charleston

This city is incredible, so absolutely take the time to see all that Charleston has to offer! There is always something to do. Concerts, festivals, beaches, farmers markets galore, shopping, delicious restaurants, art galleries, and more: there’s something for everyone!


6. Don’t slack off in class

College is exciting, and it’ll be easy to get distracted since you won’t have your parents around telling you what to do. Don’t forget the reason you’re here: to get an education. Getting good grades, especially in general education classes that a lot of freshmen have to take, is not difficult so long as you attend class, take notes, and study. The semester will only get more difficult as it goes on, so start off with a strong foundation and put forth your best effort.


7. Get involved with something, anything

This may sound cliché and you’ve probably heard it during every college tour, but joining a team or organization is a great way to meet new people. Charleston offers a ton of cool organizations you can join that aren’t even affiliated with the college. Seriously, look up all of the clubs at CofC or Google whatever it is you’re interested in and Charleston will have it. It’s not hard at all to be involved in this city!


8. Embrace group projects

Ugh, even the word itself can make you irate, but group projects are a huge part of freshmen classes and can actually lead to meeting a bunch of people. We’re not saying you’ll meet a new bff in every group, but you can definitely find people with the same interests as you and that could always lead to lasting friendships.


“I met one of my best friends in college because we’re both Communication majors and always ended up in the same group. At first we would text each other about assignments, but then we started getting coffee and doing homework together too. It wasn’t long before we were having movie nights and going out on weekends. We’ve been super close ever since, and I definitely consider her one of my closest friends.”


9. Be spontaneous

Planning and time management are a big part of college, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a little and try new things! Take a road trip with your roommates, learn a new skill, or go talk to that cute guy from bio class- anything to put yourself out there! You’ll be glad you did.


10. Stay out of a romantic relationship

Your first year is a time to meet new friends and develop a reputation on campus. Freshmen guys tend to be very immature, and certainly aren’t able to handle a serious relationship during their first year at school. Rather than spending all your time with a new romantic interest, spend it on yourself and figuring out what you want during these next four years of your life instead.


11. Stay away from bars on King Street

Cops are brutal in this town on underage kids-ask any upperclassman! Although the nightlife in Charleston is awesome, getting an MIP (minor in possession) during your first year is not. It really puts a damper on your freshman experience, and costs a lot of money to get taken off your record! It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Stick to house parties. 


12. Don’t forget to visit your parents

With all of your newfound freedom you may never want to go home, but visiting your parents and keeping up with what’s going on at home will allow you to stay connected to loved ones while at school. Make an effort to go home once every couple of months, and make sure to keep the rents informed on everything that’s going on with you. 




and Tori Williams