1. Find your buddy
This person may not be your forever friend right off the bat. It could be someone you met in high school, at orientation, your new roommate, it doesn’t matter. As long as you get along make this person your buddy for your first week. Go to all of the Welcome-Week events that that your school is offering with your buddy, at least until you can find a better buddy, because you’ll have more confidence meeting new people.
2. Meet as Many People as Possible!
Speaking of meeting new people with your buddy, this is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. I cannot stress this enough. I spent most of my first weekend in college in my room reading and waiting for my best friend to get off work to hang out with someone. DO NOT DO THIS. This is your weekend to meet as many people as possible because your network is going to be so important in college. You never know if these people will be in your class and be able to take notes for you when you’re out, or if they have hook ups to free food, or if they’ll become your best friend for the rest of your life. Plus, people are never more friendly than the first week of college, because they’re all looking for their group of friends, too.
3. Be a “Yes-Person”
No, but really. Not only will saying “yes” to all of the opportunities help you to meet new people, but you will have great experiences and do things you’ve never done before. This is the week to get outside of your comfort zone, because after the second or third week of school you will have your routine in place that will revolve around classes, a part-time job, and your tight group of friends. It is never easier to have great experiences than it is your first week.
4. Find Your Classes BEFORE Your First Day
I was lucky to have attended a summer transition program that helped first-generation college students adapt to life on campus. My sister just started her freshman year, and she was lucky to have me to show her where all of her classes are on campus so she doesn’t get lost on her first day. If you are not lucky enough to have an experience like this, then the day before classes start, go around campus and scout your classes. Do it with your buddy and you can meet other freshman too who will probably be doing the same thing.
5. Stock Up on Comfort Food
This applies to college in general. This is not the time in your life when you’re going to get in amazing shape, eat a raw, vegan diet, and run marathons, unless you already do these things or have a ridiculously easy major. Your mental health is going to be so important during this huge transition in your life and you’re going to feel lonely and miss home. Make sure you have foods from home stocked up to make you feel better. Disclaimer: This does not mean you can eat only fast food and junk, you need to stay sharp for a multitude of reasons, and if you’re sick you’re missing class, so make sure you’re also eating reasonably healthy.
6. Buy the Large Pack of Emergen-C
College will be one of the most stressful times in your life, no matter what your parents say. When you’re stressed your cortisol levels are raised and you are at a greater risk of getting sick... not to mention there are thousands of students surrounding you all the time, especially in your dorm. Drink a packet of Emergen-C every day. You will also have more energy and Vitamin C is good for your skin, nails, hair, and everything else that relies on cell health. This seriously saved my life in college.
7. Mark Every Assignment in Your Syllabus
Buy a planner or familiarize yourself with a calendar app and as soon as your professor gives you the class syllabus. Take 5 minutes and write down every single assignment and when they’re due. It is almost impossible to fail a class where you have turned in every assignment (almost). I color coded my planner and crossed off each assignment as I did them, but do what works for you.
8. Set Goals for the Semester, Year, and Next 4 Years
Studies show you are more likely to complete a goal that you write down. Write down your goals for this semester, (get a 3.5 GPA, join a club), the year (make the Dean’s list, find a summer internship, etc) and for your college career (graduate with a job, get into Law School, etc). This is vital to your success in college.
9. Take Your Roommate Agreement Seriously
You’re roommate might seem great now, and hopefully they always will, but you never know what can happen to flip that switch and you need to be prepared. If you’re not okay with dirt, say so. If you’re not okay with boys spending the night on weeknights, say so. Make sure you get it in writing and that all parties sign. This is crucial to keeping the peace because it won’t be personal when you ask them to change their behavior, it’s simply what was agreed upon. I wrote a post on how to have a healthy relationship with your roommate that you should also read because your roommate relationship is key to your happiness.
10. Meet Everyone On Your Floor
Especially if they’re keeping their door open, go in and introduce yourself, add them on Snapchat or Facebook, and be super friendly (plus it’ll help you remember their names). You never know when you’ll need someone to let you into the building because you forgot your key, or if you need them to turn down their music so you can sleep, etc. Having this fundamental relationship, no matter how basic, makes this MUCH easier. PLUS people are generally more respectful towards people they like, so make them like you and you eliminated a plethora of problems.
11. Meet Your R.A.
And get their phone number. My R.A. was never in her room and when I needed her for issues relating to my roommates she was nowhere to help. If I would have gotten her number that first week it would have made my life so much easier, and during the first week asking for people’s number is normal… halfway through the semester it’s just weird.
12. Spend Minimal Time in Your Dorm
I’m sure your roommate is great and binge-watching Netflix is a hard habit to break during free time, but you need to be meeting people and I doubt you can do that from your dorm. Go to the cafeteria, hang out outside if the weather’s nice, go to places near campus, and bring your buddy. You have no excuses on this one, even if you have to study, you can do so from Starbucks and not your dorm. Like I said, this is the week where everyone is the friendliest.
13. Meet as Many People In Your Classes as Possible
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Do not go into class on your first day and sit by yourself with RBF and not talk to people, like I did. Sit by someone who looks friendly, preferably who is already talking to people, and introduce yourself and exchange social media. For real you are going to need them, you will get sick and need notes, or need help studying, etc. You need contacts in your classes. Plus, chances are you’ll get along with them because you have something in common… this class.
14. Fix Your Crappy Schedule
Have an 8AM class? Drop that crap. Have a Friday class? Drop it immediately. Taking a class about a topic that bores you to death? Drop it. Your professor tells you their class is going to be ridiculously hard and everyone who has taken it has hated it? Drop it. Unless it is the ONLY class and you NEED it to graduate, drop the class and replace it. Most colleges have a degree progression plan that you can go off of to see that classes you need so you can replace them. The first week is also a feeding frenzy because people are constantly adding and dropping classes to fix their schedule, so join and enjoy your semester. Make an appointment with your advisor when you think you have a good schedule to make sure you’re okay if you’re unsure how your class database works.
15. Call Your Family
They’re going through a transition, too. Call them and catch up to ease their nerves. PSA: When calling/FaceTiming your family always do so before an event you need to go to so you have a reason to go and say goodbye. A perfect time is an hour before a class starts, this makes saying goodbye easier and you have allotted yourself a time limit to talking to them, with an activity afterward to keep you from getting homesick.