Hello, and Welcome to College!

If you're reading this, you're probably about to embark on your first semester of college, and you've probably already read 600 articles dishing out more advice than you can hold in your brain. Well, guess what! Now you're going to have read 601. Except this one is full of advice that you'll actually want to use! Why? Because I'm not going to preach to you about anything. I'm just going to give you some advice I wish someone had given to me. Are you ready? 

1. You know that giant list of textbooks? You probably won't use all of them.  

Image courtesy of Jeroen den Otter

My advice on how to handle the textbook situation is pretty simple: don't get them until after the first day of classes. I know a lot of other people will tell you to get them ahead of time––some even encourage you to preorder them––but I'm here to tell you, waiting a week can (and probably will) save you a few hundred dollars. Some classes will have books listed that haven't been used in 10 years and that's not a book you want to buy. Ask your professor if the book(s) listed are required, and if they say no, odds are, you'll be fine without it. If it is required, you should buy the book. Duh. Another insider tip: buy them used! This seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people I've seen buying new books because they "look nicer." Don't do that. Pay $30 instead of $270. 

2. The cafeteria food is no better than it was in high school. Learn to cook simple things.

Image courtesy of Katie Smith

Sure, there may be restaurants on (or, in Murray's case, near) campus that you can frequent, but you won't want to do that for every meal. What college student can afford to eat out three times a day? Not me! And since your cafeteria may be lacking, your kitchen skills shouldn't be. Find some easy recipes and get good at them. When I lived in the dorm, I got really good at making pasta and rice in a coffee pot. It works, trust me. It's not the easiest thing in the world to cook in a dorm, but I made it work. Also, if you're a freshman, you're probably on a meal plan. Don't waste that. Treat the cafeteria like a grocery store (that's what I did!) and get creative. Salad toppings make for great additions in your otherwise plain pasta and rice. 

3. When people tell you to get to know your professors, we really mean it. 

College professors aren't like high school teachers. In college, your professors will have designated office hours that high school teachers rarely had. Use them! I didn't take this advice until my second year of college, and I wish I'd listened sooner. The first professor I really got to know is now the faculty advisor for this chapter of Her Campus. She has taken me under her wing––I call her my school mom––and helped me gain confidence in myself that I didn't realize was missing. Trust me when I say this: you want to build relationships with professors. After all, they will be the ones writing your recommendation letters in the future!

4. Don't be a recluse. 

Image courtesy of Gades Photography

This doesn't mean you have to go to every frat party on campus. In fact, I have never gone to a frat party and I'm perfectly content in keeping it that way. Just don't be that person who goes straight from class to work to your room. Don't do that. Socializing in college can be whatever you want it to be. It can be awkward at first, especially if you're in a town you don't know, but making friends in college isn't like making friends in high school. I made friends by showing up at different club meetings. It sounds dorky, but it works! Find something you're interested in, see if there's a club (hint: there probably is!) and go to a meeting. BOOM! Friends! I know that's over-simplified, but it really is the best first step to take. And if you are a party person, go to a party! It really is that easy. 

5. Drink coffee. If you hate coffee, learn to tolerate it. 

Image courtesy of Nathan Dumlao

If you thought you were a coffee drinker before... you weren't. I probably drink, on average, four cups of coffee per day. I'm serious. I know it's not exactly healthy for that much caffeine to be flowing through my body, but you do what you've got to do, right? I have friends who used to despise coffee who now live on it. Tea doesn't work, we've tried. It's got to be the good stuff. Your body will be exhausted, but coffee never fails! Learn to love it. (Also, get a Keurig for your room. Starbucks is great, but this is survival mode. We don't have time to wait in that line four times a day.) 

There you have it. Five little insider tips to college. You're probably still freaking out, but that's fine. Just remember that, at the end of the day, your college experience is yours. You have the power to make it whatever you want it to be––don't waste it! Have fun, be great!