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Essentials For Incoming First-Years to Know

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

With early College Applications deadlines approaching, there are a few essentials that high school seniors must know.

I am a first-year at the University of Virginia, and here are 7 things that I wish I knew before both applying and attending college or university.

These might seem intuitive or barely necessary; however, these little tidbits of information might help to determine the right college for you, as well as how to navigate your college of choice.

College Rankings are not the most important thing

I always saw friends and people on the news desperately trying to get their children into the top-ranked schools according to a national list. Even Netflix made a documentary about the world-famous college admissions scandal in 2021. However, how do they even make this national list? Yes, there are certain criteria that it can be determined by, but just because there are Ivy Leagues at the beginning of all of the lists does not mean it is the best choice for you. At the end of the day, the place you went to college only really matters for Graduate School and your first job. After that, employers only care about your work ethic and previous job experience! There is even a shift away from going to college in the first place! It only matters what place is the best fit for you. :)

Always pack medicine

Listen up here. I told my mom when I was packing for college that I did not need medicine. I said “Oh, Mom! Do not be so silly! I will get medicine if I need it!” How naïve of me. Especially at UVA, the Student Health and Wellness center is a trek away when you feel great, and forget about it when you feel sick and congested. I know people who have paid for an Uber to take them to the center. So, just take your parents up on their offer to buy the medicine. I promise you will need it to defend yourself from the “HooFlu.”

not Everyone from the first week is a forever friend

College has taught me a lot about friendships, even in the short time that I have been here. It is not like High School at all. During HS, you and all your friends had the same lunchtimes, same dismissal times, and overall shared a lot of the same break times in common. In college, this is simply just not the case. There will be people that you meet in the first few weeks of school that you will not stay in touch with. This is not to say that you will not be friends with the people you meet in the first few weeks. Personally, my closest friends are the ones I met on my hall in the first weeks of school. But, there were also other people that I swore I would be friends with throughout all of college. It just has not been the case, and that is completely okay! Not everyone has to be your best friend. Sometimes, people can just fill the void of the person to wave to on your walk to class. Just remind yourself to not take it personally, and that you will find your people eventually.

you do not have to be best friends with your roommate

Going into college, I always thought that my roommate and I had to be best friends. I mean, if I am sharing a space with this person, we should be best friends, right? The answer is no. If you and your roommate end up being two peas in a pod, that is amazing! It is certainly possible. However, there is no need to put so much pressure on the relationship. Yes, you share your space with them, but you do not have to be the best of friends! As long as you share similar habits, are respectful of each other’s space, and communicate well, that is all that you can really ask for. Sometimes, just a friendly presence in your room that you know will be neat and have a similar schedule as you is good enough.

you do not need to have your life plans figured out

Unless you are determined to be a doctor or something that requires a specific specification when applying to school, please go in undecided for your major choice. I have seen all too often the amount of kids who apply with a certain major and end up swapping it within a month of school. And that is perfectly okay. Actually, it is more than fine. I have been using my first year of college to simply just take classes that I find interesting in different disciplines. So far, I think I am getting a lot more out of my college experience than the other kids who went to college completely set on a STEM discipline and are now switching to a humanities course after taking Introduction to Chemistry. Take this time in your first semester to explore your options and determine what you really love, then form your path on this. Even if that does not happen, many people say that your major does not even determine your life path.

bring ice trays

This one will be kept short and sweet. Walking to the dining hall whenever you want cold water is not fun. Buy the ice cube trays and keep them in your freezer. I cannot tell you the amount of times that we have used these trays. It is worth the investment.

invest in noise cancelling headphones

Listen (get it, headphones!). People are loud. Sometimes, your roommate might be watching the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars while you are just trying to study for your Economics final, and your AirPods simply just aren’t cutting it. Noise cancelling headphones are a godsend. Whether you want to tune out the noisy conversation next to you in the library, you just want to listen to your music without interruptions, or you just want to look like you can’t hear people if they try to talk to you, get a good pair of headphones to block out the noise.

Kate Neff is a member of the social and writing teams for Her Campus at the University of Virginia Chapter. Beyond Her Campus, Kate studies Art History and Media Studies at UVA as a first year student. In her free time, Kate enjoys taking walks while listening to podcasts, playing tennis, reading outside, and watching movies with friends.