Since I’m going back to school this month, even though it’s technically online so I won’t really be going to school, I felt like I should share some stuff I learned the first time that I tried giving college a go.
This post is going to be five of the main things that I really wish that I would have known going in to my freshman (and sophomore) years.
It is perfectly okay to eat alone.
I actually worked at the dining hall at my former college for three years. It was one of the best jobs that I ever had and it was a great work-study opportunity (so if you’re looking in to on campus jobs and the dining hall is hiring don’t push that one aside, it might be worth it!). Anyways, most freshmen are required to buy meal service plans if you live on campus. With working, however, I also got a free meal every single shift I worked. I also never went to the dining hall alone to eat.
If you’re wondering what that means, I basically wasted $2,500 because I didn’t utilize my meal plan in the slightest. I lived off of granola bars and ramen and oatmeal and the meals I ate during my shifts at work. I felt awkward and uncomfortable going to the dining hall by myself because I didn’t want to be that weird person that ate alone… Even though I was already the weird person that no one liked anyways so would it really have mattered? Absolutely not.
So if you’re in the same sort of mindset that I was in where you feel like you can’t go and get food by yourself, just know that it’s perfectly okay to do so. Food is more important than the potential judgment you might get. And in all honesty, how stupid is it to sit there and judge someone for eating by themselves?
And once you start eating by yourself? It’s really hard to go back to eating with other people. You can eat as much as you want, as slow or as fast as you want, and if you want to listen to music or read a book while you’re eating you can do it all in peace!! Definitely one of the best decisions was realizing it was okay to eat by myself.
Though I will say that if you don’t feel comfortable eating by yourself because you have to walk across campus to get to your dining hall, I completely understand that fear. I was lucky enough to go to a school where freshmen lived in the same building as the dining hall so I only had to walk down a few flights of stairs in order to get food.
Accessibility services aren’t just for those with visible disabilities and along with this, learn how to stand up for your accessibility!
My next tip has everything to do with accessibility. If you are unaware, I struggle really badly with mental health. By the end of my freshman year I was in a horrible place with my anxiety and it really only kept going downhill. Two of my roommates sophomore year were registered with our accessibility services on campus and they urged me to do the same. I kept putting it off though because I was convinced that there was nothing that could be done to help me in my struggles.
I’ve never had issues with getting my work done on time and I’ve never had issues with testing. If you’re like me, you probably think that all the services could offer up would be the opportunity to take longer on tests or that someone would be able to take notes for you in class. But surprisingly I was wrong.
Some of my accommodations were the ability to have no consequences from calling in “sick” to class (especially in those classes that you could potentially lose entire letter grades from missing more than 2 classes) and also extensions on assignments if I needed one. Other people I know had accommodations for bathroom use during class, for the use of computers, and even for the requirement of speaking in class.
I think the biggest thing with this point is that you know what will help you succeed the most and if you’re in a position where you can request accommodations then do it. It’s not just for those with physical disabilities and there are a lot of ways that these people can work with your professors in order to help you succeed and thrive in school.
And if either a professor or someone else keeps you from using your accommodations or anything like that then always stand up for yourself and bring it to the attention of those in the disability/accommodation office and ask them for help in solving the problem. Sometimes this requires you to send multiple emails or make multiple phone calls but in the end it comes down to making sure that you are getting what you need.
If your advisor doesn’t work with you, find a new one.
When I was given my official major advisor sophomore year I was thoroughly unimpressed with who they’d assigned me to. The first time I ever set up an appointment with him he told me that he refused to even meet with me because he “had no proof of me as his advisee”. I almost had to register for classes late and ended up not even discussing what classes I was going to be taking with him. Instead, I was “advised” by one of the heads of academic advising stuff solely because my advisor refused to even acknowledge that I existed.
That same semester I had also had a class with this professor and was thoroughly unimpressed with who he was. The class itself was interesting but that also came from the fact that I had a friend that I sat next to and we spent a decent amount of our time doing other work on our own computers and laughing at the absurdity of his teaching style. By the end of the semester I was well on my way to finding a new advisor and ended up making the official switch to a professor that I often frequented the office hours of and really enjoyed his classes and was very helpful and knowledgable in what I actually wanted to do with my future.
If you start off your college career with an advisor and you find out that they are not a good fit for you, find someone else. Don’t spend your time frustrated and annoyed with who is helping you decide and shape your entire future. Advisors are, yes, supposed to help you pick and find classes and guide you towards graduation but if you feel like you can’t connect to them in any way, I urge you to find someone that you can. It will be better in the long run I can promise you that!!
People can be just as catty and cliquey as they were in high school. Just because you’re all adults doesn’t mean that everyone will act like one.
Be careful who you make friends with. Be careful who you spill all your deep dark secrets to. Prioritize yourself, your well being, and who you are as a person and if other people can’t handle who you are then how good of a friend were they in the first place? I feel like this statement is universal even to the real “grown up” world of full time work. People can be extremely immature forever. If your group of friends chooses to ditch you because you work at the only time they ever want to meet up then move past it and find some people who actually want to put the effort into spending time with you. There are better people out there.
Do your laundry and printing at weird hours.
If your laundry room and printers are available at all hours, I urge you to find the weirdest times to go and do your laundry and printing. I would often go to the computer lab after 10 PM and there were many weekends where I would go do my laundry before 8 AM. Mid-week around early to mid afternoon were also a really slow time for the laundry room too. Don’t get stuck in the mile long line trying to print off your essay 10 minutes before your class starts. And laundry is so much less stressful when you don’t have to worry about someone else dumping your wet clothes, or your clean dry clothes, onto the floor because they’ve decided that they want the machine they’re in.
So I’m not really sure how helpful this post is but I hope you took something away from it. If you’re heading off to your freshman year this year, what are you most excited about? If you’re in school, what weird piece of advice do you have for freshmen?