As I look to my left I see thousands of incoming freshman ready to start their ambitious independent life, and on the right I see thousands of other students ready to leave college; me being one of them. As I reflect back on my years of college, I would say that freshman year was probably the best of them all, but it was also the most challenging. When it’s all said and done, freshman year is the year that most students will learn about life the hard way. It’s the year that will suck you in and out, and this is why I will give some advice on how to have a good first year in college based off my experiences.
1. Live in a dorm!
I can’t say this enough to incoming students that I know. Living in a dorm compared to an apartment is expensive. I get it. I know. “I don’t want to pay $8000 to live in a crappy dorm or share a small ass room with a stranger I don’t know.” Well, Stop it! that shouldn’t be the issue stopping you from living in a dorm. Everyone doesn’t have money to put themselves in a dorm, but in my deep honest opinion, living in a dorm will help you transition better and faster.
First things first!Wherever you live, you will create faster friendships with the people around you because you are surrounded by them everyday. You will develop a sense of community with the students around you and learn from one another regardless of race, intelligence, hobbies, and etc. The friends you make in your dorms may be your best friends for years to come. However, if you do end up having a shitty year because you hated your roommate, well too bad!
2. Create a strong rapport with your roommate
Whether or not you’re living in a dorm or apartment, create a strong rapport with whoever you’re living with. Make sure that you understand each other’s limits before anything else. Walking away from an incident or accident is not the way to go as I learned that myself.
On the very first day of move-in, let each other know how things should be. Also, pay strong attention to the environment in which both of you are living in. Don’t let things squander for a whole year and then lash out on them. Basically, you don’t want that roommate who is secretly trying to kill you.
3. Don’t buy books from the BOOKSTORE!
Some of your first instincts might be to look for your class and to go buy books. The mistake I see many people doing nowadays is buying books from the university bookstore. DON’T DO IT!!!! The bookstore is nothing but an expensive store trying to take all the money you have. Instead, check out sites like Chegg, Amazon, or other sites.
These sites will save you so much money in the long run and they’re easy to use. So unless a class is SPECIFIC on a book and what comes with it, then you will have no choice but to go to the bookstore. Otherwise, if you still have your book that you just bought and the receipt…..GO RETURN IT WHILE YOU CAN AND GET YOUR MONEY BACK!
4. Everyone is on the same level
Among the thousands of incoming freshman are valedictorians, students with high GPAs, and students who exceeded the expectations of a high schooler. However, when you get to college, the game changes. Everyone is on the same level! Everyone starts out with a GPA of 0. Everyone is trying to survive their mornings with a cup of coffee. Everyone is trying to get into the school of their desire. Use this as Motivation!
Though everyone is on the same level, there will always be those students who will get good grades, study hard, and do what they gotta do to survive. On the other hand, there will be students who party till the break of dawn and drop out before you even know it. Trust me, I’ve seen plenty of this in my four years of college. What I’m trying to say is, if you’re starting fresh at a University like Madison, study hard and don’t be that dropout who doesn’t make it to sophomore year because all you thought about was partying.
5. Manage your finances!
Many students will be receiving their financial aid and many will be persistently contacting the financial aid office on where their money is. For those receiving financial aid, majority of them will be receiving a lot of money ranging from $1000-$6000 because of the financial need. Don’t let these high numbers fool you. Your check in the mail may read $5000, but don’t get excited.
Being a freshman and seeing $5000 in the mail for the first time is exciting! You may think about the things you’ve been wanting to buy since high school. You may head right to the mall to buy your favorite Jordans! If this is you, then you’ve gone down the path I went down. The whole point of receiving that much money is so that you should perhaps 1. pay for your dorm! 2. Use it on the things you need! 3. Books and 4. save it for the upcoming years in college! Do yourself a favor and keep a diary of how much you spend/save each month. Numbers never lie!
As a freshman in college, I made a lot of these mistakes and I want you all to be able to survive your first year in college. You’ll eventually learn if you’ve made these mistakes, but if you continue down the route of being a horrible, mean, unstable college student, you will face the inevitable lifestyle of being a loser.