Freshman year. Oh, the excitement, and the fears. Moving into your dorm, meeting your floormates for the first time, participating in all of the kickoff events. Thinking back, these are such great memories! I remember it like it was yesterday—because it was!
As an up-and-coming sophomore at Syracuse University, here are my top 10 tips for incoming freshmen getting ready to start college at any school across the country.
1. Apply for a job. This might seem like a silly first step, but it is an important one! Jobs go fast on college campuses, so if possible, try to get a job before you even step foot in your dorm. Many times during your freshman year, you will find yourself bored, with a lot of free time. A job can supplement the boredom as well as give you a source of income. And if you are worried that your job will cut into your social life, then pick one in the morning to mid-afternoon! Chances are, it should fit in your schedule.
2. Try to become friends, or at least acquaintances, with your roommate. This step will help determine a lot of your happiness your freshman year! Your roommate is the person you live with and will need to interact with on a daily basis. Thus, it is crucial to be in good standing with this individual! Make sure you understand boundaries, what can or cannot be shared, and who/what is allowed in the room. Most universities even require roommates to write or agree to a set of rules, so be prepared to do so!
3. Be social, even if you don’t want to. Some of you may be a bit introverted when it comes to socialization, but try to get to know people! The first couple of weeks of freshman year are the best time to make friends—everyone is starting from scratch and looking for people to hang out with. Take this opportunity to your advantage, and don’t bum around in your dorm room!
4. Don’t date. Avoid creating drama. A general first-semester rule is DO NOT DATE! You don’t want to get sucked into spending time with a single person while everyone else is making friends. It’s just not worth it! Besides, you can always date later once you have an established friend group. Also, don’t let your emotions get the best of you, and think before you act. If you must “hang out” with someone, make sure that the act won’t be detrimental to your friendships. Keep in mind that the ramifications of one night of enjoyment could create drama and separate an entire floor community!
5. Get to know your RA. I know, I know—this sounds like a suck-up technique—but I swear it’s not what you think. RAs are students, too! So making friends with one will be much more different than making friends with your high school teacher. Furthermore, once you are on good terms or friends with your RA, they can start pulling favors for you! This may come in the form of not “writing you up” for having a certain fizzy, bitter beverage that tends to dominate college campuses.
6. Join a student organization. One of the best ways to get to meet people is through different organizations. And, as a freshman, organizations are looking for you, too! This is because they are actively recruiting for new members to replace their ranks. As a freshman, join organizations that you are interested in and start building connections. You will be amazed by all of the different types of people you will meet.
7. Hang out with upperclassmen. This tip is hard to complete because a lot of times freshmen don’t have as many opportunities to interact with upperclassmen. Thus, if you “Get to know your RA!” or “Join a student organization” many times you can establish upperclassman connections. Interacting with upperclassmen may seem intimidating and a bit scary at first. However, it is essential to get to know some because they know how things work on campus and can provide invaluable advice. Also, upperclassmen usually hold positions of power, so it doesn’t hurt to have connections with the right people!
8. It’s OK to party—just know your limits. Your first weekend, everyone goes out! This is fine—there is nothing wrong with having a good time, as long as you know your limits. And not just alcohol-tolerance limits—though, that’s important, too. However, what’s really more important is when you should or should not “go out.” For example, if you have four papers due on Monday, you probably shouldn’t go out. If you have one…meh, you can probably do it on Sunday! Too many times in college, kids get sucked into the party culture and make it their priority, which results in low grades and sometimes expulsion.
9. Get to know your professor. In college, you will sometimes have classes that are 100-person lectures. Getting to know your professor is key in these situations. Even though a lot of the time you will learn material and ask questions through your TA (teacher’s assistant), the professor has the final say in grades, and having him or her in your favor doesn’t hurt. Additionally, if you get to know your professor, he or she can later write recommendations for you, which can come very handy when pursuing an internship or job.
10. Keep and maintain connections from home. This step is one that you don’t need to take immediately after stepping foot on campus, but it’s definitely one that you should keep in mind! College is possibly one of the greatest times of your life, and you should enjoy it! However, don’t let this time in your life sever your connections with friends and family that you no longer see as frequently. Remember: They are the ones that have built you, and alternatively, if there is anyone to fall back on, it’s always your support group back home.
Victor Yang is a Syracuse University student studying inclusive elementary & special education, and English & textual studies. His goal is to become an elementary educator and to pursue a career in helping others. Born and raised in the Greater Boston area, Victor is a die-hard Celtics and Patriots fan as well as an avid Syracuse Orange fan. He loves watching basketball and football, but also enjoys reading, teaching, and occasionally playing video games.