As many of our students are getting ready to leave for college this fall, I wanted to take a few minutes to share “10 Things I Learned as a Freshman” at Boston College, where I’ll be a junior majoring in finance and marketing and minoring in math.
1. Doing laundry is not that bad.
You always hear people complaining about having to do laundry in college. Sometimes you hear about those “lucky ones” who go to school close enough to home that they can bring their laundry home.
In reality, though, doing laundry on your own is not that bad. Yes, you will have to carry your heavy basket down the hall and most likely up or down several floors. Maybe you will have to separate your whites and colors (I always throw everything in together and put the machine on “permanent press”. I do have a friend who accidentally dyed all of her clothes pink, but she did throw in a bright red blanket and set the machine to “whites”).
Overall, though, it's usually quick and painless. Just be careful you don't forget about your laundry: people are ruthless and will throw your wet clothes on the floor if you leave it in too long after the cycle finished.
2. Don't have high expectations for your roommate.
Let's be real: there is a good chance you won't become best friends with your freshman roommate. But there's also a good chance you won't become enemies either. I've seen it all.
Some roommates do become best friends. Annoyingly so. Some do hate each other and fight nonstop. Most fall somewhere in between. So don't set your expectations too high, just be respectful and hope that you will get along.
And as for whether you should "go rando" or pick someone from Facebook, I really don't think it makes a difference. I know people who picked roommates from Facebook who seemed normal but turned out to be slightly crazy. There were also others who got along just fine. It’s a toss-up, really.
As for me, my roommate and I just stopped talking to each other. Sure near the beginning we tried to be friends, but after awhile we just stopped saying anything to each other, including simple greetings. Also she stole my granola bars, but I digress.
3. Branch out, try new things.
I'm talking about clubs and campus activities here. Don't be like me, I did practically nothing my freshman year. That's essentially my biggest regret. One thing I did do was go on a retreat held by the Chinese Students' Association. I almost didn't go, because I thought it would be so much easier just to stay in my dorm and watch Netflix all day, but I pushed myself to get out of my comfort zone and go. I'm glad I did. That's where I met my current roommate and how I eventually found my group of friends. If a club sounds interesting, join! Try out! Make the most out of your college experience.
4. Take advantage of the events and free food.
When else in your life are you going to be constantly surrounded by a large variety of events with free food? Cultural events, dance shows, a cappella performances, guest speakers. And most of the time all of that is free. So don't be like me and not go because you're too lazy. Once you're out there in the real world, free events are hard to come by and are usually farther than the distance from your dorm room to the quad.
And if your school is big on sports, go to some games! It’s part of the whole college experience.
5. Research your professors before picking the class.
If you have to take a class for a university core requirement (or a major or minor requirement), and there are multiple professors teaching—do your research! There are third-party websites for professor ratings, and some schools also have internal course evaluations and ratings.
If your school isn't one of them, try word-of-mouth from upperclassmen. It can make a huge difference. If it's a class for your major or minor, pick a professor that teaches well, not the professor whose class is the easiest.
I would also advise doing some research for any electives you’re interested in taking. I thought that taking History of Architecture would be a fun and interesting way to fulfill my fine arts requirement. It turns out, though, that all you do in History of Architecture is memorize over 100 buildings and their respective architects, styles, dates, and significance. So no, the class was not fun and interesting. It actually lowered my GPA, too.
6. Don't forget to call home.
It's definitely not the case for everyone, but a lot of students' parents are paying for their college education. So don't forget to call home every once in a while, even if it's just for a short check-in conversation. Your parents will really appreciate knowing that their “baby” is OK and hopefully you’ll find that it gives you a little boost of home that you’ve been missing.
7. Take your classes seriously.
Maybe you're not as lazy as I was and you're super excited to go out every weekend and join 50 clubs and 10 executive boards and get a job and end world hunger. Good for you. Just remember to take a breather, don't overexert yourself, and remember that your classes matter, too.
Don't brush off your schoolwork thinking that it’s easy and you can just catch up later. I speak from personal experience. I got really behind on my business law and my macroeconomics readings second semester freshman year, and I spent the week before finals reading about 300 pages of law and economics. Yes, it was awful.
You might be thinking, "If she wasn't spending that much time on her classes, and she wasn't doing a lot of extracurriculars, what was she doing?" I don't know. I really don't. I'm still confused as to what I was doing all of second semester freshman year. I did watch all of 30 Rock so that might have been part of it.
Moral of the story is ... don't blow off your classwork because you'll probably have some regrets when you realize that some employers really do want to know your GPA.
This is more the case for those of you who wind up at schools near urban areas, and less so if you go somewhere that's surrounded by cornfields. Make the most out of your surroundings! If you go to school around Boston, go to the aquarium! Check out the science museum! Get some cannolis at the North End! Four years will fly by surprisingly quickly, so make the most of them and get out there and explore.
9. It's OK if you don't make friends right away.
Freshman year was rough for me. I had about two friends total and was seriously considering transferring. I decided to stick it out, though, mostly because transferring takes a lot of time and effort.
As it turns out, I was able to find a great group of friends through a mutual friend, and I lived with them sophomore year. It's amazing how finding a good group of friends can significantly improve your college experience. Don't freak out if you can't find them your freshman year, though, you still have time.
10. Some people can be really gross.
I learned this after having to use a communal bathroom my freshman year. Thirty of us had to share three toilets, three showers, and six sinks. It got disgusting fast.
Bring shower shoes. They are absolutely essential. Lower your standards for cleanliness, because unfortunately not everybody has the highest level of hygiene. And most importantly, be respectful. Clean up after yourself.
Even if there's a cleaning staff that attends to the bathrooms, don't be rude and make any big messes. It will be rough, but you will survive.
Hopefully you found this post at least a little helpful. Wherever you end up going, enjoy your time there and make the most out of your college experience!