How to Become a Freshman (Again), as Told by a Freshman

It’s your senior year of high school. You’ve written all of the essays, sent in your transcripts, and submitted a million test scores.

And now you wait.

Applying to colleges can be pretty terrifying and tough. If we’re being honest, it’s one of the hardest things about college (besides the whole school thing, obviously). You put yourself on the line and have to undergo MONTHS of anxiety-ridden anticipation, constantly wondering if you got into your dream school or not. The important thing to remember is that college decisions are not the end of the world; they’re the beginning of your life as it’s meant to be.

Whether you’re already in or still waiting on those final few decisions, here are some tips for incoming freshmen, as written by a freshman.

1. Take advantage of your school’s roommate match service. If you have a Type A personality like me, you probably have a well-worked schedule that you love to adhere to. You are a planner and meticulous in your life… and that’s the way you like it. For many, UGA’s roommate “Match.com” was the best part of the freshman experience. For example, my roommate and I met on the UGA match service a couple months before either of us had even committed to UGA. I sent out so many introductory notes via sliding into DMs, and it just so happened that she replied first -- and it was love at first message. My roommate and I are pretty much twins. We go to bed at the same time (early) and get up at the same time (early); we love the same foods, and we love the same TV shows and music! We even both have a younger brother, and they happen to be the same age. We accidentally coordinated our rooms (seriously, it was an accident), and we’re both super clean and quiet. However, since she lives hours from my hometown, we never would have met otherwise. Although the match service was my froomie saving grace, it isn’t necessary for everyone! Some people prefer the random roommate, and that’s a great way to go, too. Just don’t forget that the matching is an option!  

2. Go to the earliest orientation possible. Orientation is a huge deal for freshmen. It’s your first opportunity to make friends and learn all the details about your new school! You get to stay in a dorm for the first time, take placement tests, and try out the dining hall food. It’s a great and tiring experience! Here’s the real reason you should go to an early orientation: early orientation = early registration. I went to an orientation in mid-July, and I ended up feeling pretty frustrated because I felt like all of the “fun” classes were taken! You get to register at the end of your orientation, so if you’re picky about the classes you want to take, I suggest getting there early.

3. To go Greek or not to go Greek… That is the question! At UGA, our sororities and fraternities rush really early in Fall Semester. Therefore, you have to know for sure if you plan on rushing a Pan-Hellenic group during the summer! There are registration fees, recommendations, and lots of outfit planning involved in this process. It’s important to remember that while a lot of people do decide to rush, it’s definitely not a requirement for the social scene of college. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of different opportunities to get involved on a college campus. Just remember that being a new member of a sorority means dedicating a bunch of time (and sometimes money) to your chapter.  

4. Make your dorm checklist. As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of planning and organizing. Making my dorm checklist was one of the most exciting things about college planning! It’s important to get a head start on the checklist and actually buying things. You don’t want to wait until a few days before you leave, or else all of the good stuff will be gone! A great tactic for creating a checklist is consulting Pinterest and Bed, Bath, & Beyond college checklists. You can use one of these as they are, or you can use them to make your own! Here are some items you may not think about, but will need: clothes steamer (instead of an iron), your spare car key, as many headphones and phone chargers as you can find, multiple reusable water bottles, hanging closet organizer, shoe organizer, and a lap desk. Also, remember to be mindful of space when you’re packing. Chances are that you’ll be living inside a room that is approximately the size of a broom closet -- you don’t want to feel too crowded!  

5. Remember that you don’t have to have your life figured out. The most popular question that you’ll hear (one that you’ll quickly get tired of) is: “What’s your major?” Remember that it’s perfectly fine to say that you don’t know. Remember that it’s okay to say that you have one, but you’re also looking at exploring other options. When you’re 18 or 19 years old, you shouldn’t be expected to know what you’re going to spend your life doing! Prepare yourself: It's highly likely that you will change your major at least once. I came into college thinking that I was going to be a biology and psychology double major, and now I am a journalism and art double major. Give college a chance to help you find who you are and what you’re truly passionate about!

College is a new adventure with twists and turns around every corner. It’s a chance for unhindered freedom and provides major opportunities for “adulting” without all of the responsibilities of an adult.

The key to succeeding in college is being organized and prepared for anything that comes your way. Since you don’t have to have any sort of 10-Year Plan set in stone, take your freshman year to try everything you’re interested in. Find where you’re comfortable and happy, and let yourself revel in it. Keep in mind that your time in school is limited from here on out, so it’s up to you to create the best experience possible.