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A Freshman’s Guide To The First Day Of College

by Brittany Hendricks
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(Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

(Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

Coming out of high school and diving right into college two months later is like doing a cannonball into cold lake water after soaking in the hot tub for hours. If you don’t regulate your temperature and prepare yourself, you could potentially send your body into shock for a while. We’ve all been there, so we want to help you prevent that! Check out our guide for college freshman to ensure you don’t look like a lost, cold, shocked puppy on the first day of your college classes.

1. NEVER walk with a map!

You know that game called pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey? Don’t be the donkey. Don’t be the source of the upperclassmen’s laughter. Just don’t do it. If you need to know where you’re going, spend the day before classes exploring the campus and finding your way around. That way, people won’t be around to see you use the map. So let me repeat one last time… Never, EVER walk with a map! ESPECIALLY on the first day of classes. That is a guaranteed way to draw unnecessary attention to yourself and to brand yourself as “Fresh Meat.”

2. DO NOT wear your college game-day t-shirt!

I’m not telling you to NEVER wear your school colors, or even that college game-day t-shirt. You don’t have to look like you just stepped out of a catalogue, either (please don’t). I’m just telling you not to wear it on the first day of class. Remember, everyone there is a student at the university… you don’t need to blatantly remind them that you belong there, too. Wear something that you’re comfortable wearing, because chances are it’ll probably be hot and humid on the first day anyway.

3. It’s ok to ask for directions!

If you are lost, don’t pull out the map… just ask for directions! No one is going to kick you, stuff you in a locker, push you down to the bricks, or any of that cliche stuff. The worst thing that could happen is you ask a freshman who is just as lost as you are. It won’t necessarily brand you as a “freshman” if you ask for directions. If you go to a large university, chances are there are upperclassmen who still get themselves turned around with directions. Having a bad sense of directions is a generic trait, not a freshman stamp.

4. Walk with confidence!

Please… PLEASE don’t “look” lost. I beg of you. Upperclassmen are looking for the lost ones. So to avoid being their target, make it seem like you planned to go there. We’ve all been there. I’ve made plenty of proud strides through bushy botanical garders, I’ve hopped fences with a purpose, I even walked straight through a crowded classroom of 300 students and towards the exit door to mask the fact that I wasn’t in the right place. If you’re heading straight for a cul-de-sac or something, you better strut towards that dead end with confidence!

5. AVOID the “deer-in-headlights” glare!

Do me a favor. Look yourself in the mirror, tense your body, and open your eyes wide. Now look from left to right. Remember this look because I NEVER want you to do this EVER again, especially on the first day of class. This is a guaranteed bullseye. You might as well walk with a target on your back and huge Vegas-like neon lights that flash “FRESHMAN.” I’ll leave it at that.

6. DO NOT eat everything in the dining hall!

Did you sign up for a year-round meal plan? Well let me fill you in on a little secret… that piece of pizza that’s on your plate? It’ll be there the next day, the next month, in fact, chances are that piece of pizza might even be there by the time you graduate. So you don’t need to eat that piece of pizza, that chicken leg, those rolls of sushi, a bowl of cereal, three chocolate chip cookies topped off with an ice cream cone on your first day of class! Pace yourself. We know you’re excited that it’s like an all-you-can-eat-buffet, but that doesn’t mean it’s all you SHOULD eat.

7. DO NOT over-prepared yourself!

Remember this PLEASE! Most professors are obligated to review the syllabus with you before you even crack open a textbook. It’s no different from high school. You don’t want to be that person in the quiet classroom unzipping the bookbag in dead silence and flipping through your blank notebook pages, or worse! You THUMP that oversized college textbook for that Psychology 101 class on the wooden desk so everyone can hear it. Please don’t do that. You won’t learn anything on the first day of class other than you should NEVER bring a textbook to class on the first day of class EVER again.

8. DO NOT surf your laptop on the first day! 

This is another one that mirrors jumping from the hot tub to the cold lake. In high school, anything electronic was prohibited. So now you get to a place where electronic devices are, for the most part, widely accepted and encouraged. Don’t abuse this privilege. If you don’t need your computer for the class, you’ll know within the first 5-10 minutes. So don’t be the freshman looking for things to do on your computer just to make yourself look busy or feel like you’re actually in college. Just listen and sit still.

9. Pace yourself!

There is going to be SO much going on during the first week of classes! Clubs are getting you to sign up for their organizations, there might be free cookouts, movie nights, people hanging out in the commons area… breathe. You don’t have to do EVERYTHING on the first day of classes. You’ll be there for four years, and these things aren’t going away anytime soon. Don’t break yourself trying be involved with everything.

10. BE. IN. THE. MOMENT.

Enjoy it. I wish I could tell you that four years feels like forever. I wish I could tell you that college moves just as slow, if not slower, than high school. But I can’t tell you these things. College is going to be the best four years of your life. It’ll be filled with great memories, laughs, friends, and unforgettable moments. You’ll also learn the most about yourself by being on your own and figuring out stuff for yourself. College is going to shape you. It’s going to try you. At times, it might even feel like it’s breaking you. You’ll love, you’ll lose, you’ll cry, but you’ll also succeed. Don’t let these moments pass you by without taking a second to be in the moment and swim in it all. College only comes once… ONCE… unless of course you flunk out and become a professional college student, but we won’t go there.

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