Annie Loves College! // Lessons from First Semester

The title says it all, my friends.  I’m one semester into my college education and could not love it more.  (I mean, if my professors stopped assigning homework that would be great, but other than that I’m doing swell!)  I love my roommate, I love my major, I love my classes, I love my school.  All is well on this side of the computer.

To commemorate my fruitful first semester, I’ve compiled a list of things I wish I’d known coming into college.  From the advice everyone seems to give to the stuff I had no idea I’d experience, here are my tips for your first semester.

1. Communicate with your roommate.  Sharing a living space can be difficult at first, especially if you’re like me and haven’t shared a room since you were eight.  To alleviate any tension and prevent any tension from forming, be honest with your roommate from the very beginning.  If you like the blinds open, tell them.  If you are comfortable sharing food, make that known.  It may seem awkward at first, but setting boundaries and establishing guidelines will prevent conflict and make both of your lives easier.

2. You can be confident and nervous at the same time.  There’s this strange dichotomy saying that you’re either a nervous wreck or completely confident on move-in day, and that’s not true.  Your first semester will be a roller coaster of emotion and, surprise surprise, that’s how it’s supposed to be.  There will be good days and bad days, but how you handle the bad days is really what counts.

3. It’s okay to say “no.”  If your friends want to go out on a Thursday and you’re slammed with homework, you have the right to stay in.  In college, you and your wellbeing are your priorities, so take care of yourself first.  A relaxing night spent with a good book and a bowl of microwave popcorn can do wonders.

4. It’s also okay to say “yes.”  If your friends have something ridiculously fun planned on that Thursday night, you can also set homework aside for a few hours and go have some fun.  I wouldn’t recommend skimping on sleep every night, but a five-hour night once in a while won’t kill you as long as you’re having a good time.  It’s all about balance.

5. If your dorm isn’t carpeted, buy a rug.  That tiled floor will start to feel like hospital flooring and you’ll get tired of hair accumulating on your socks.  Split the cost between you and your roommate; you’ll thank me later.

6. Going in undeclared is fine.  Knowing exactly what you want to do is also fine.  The vast majority of college students change their major multiple times before graduation; I did a few weeks ago.  You have the time to change your mind whether or not you know exactly what you want to do with your life.  Trust that you’ll end up on the right path.

7. Don’t get bogged down by the required credits.  Taking all the necessary courses to graduate in time is important, but so is taking some classes just for the hell of it.  Explore new interests.  Take something you’ve never taken before.  Your mind will thank you for going out of your comfort zone.

8. Walk to class if you can.  If the weather’s nice and you’ve got the time, skip the bus.  Fresh air is so restorative and you’ll get to appreciate all the beauty of your campus.  Plus, you’ll get some exercise in.

9. Call your dad.  The common college parable always reminds students to call their moms, but don’t forget about your other family members.  Call your dad and your grandparents and your sisters and brothers.  They miss you too and want to know you’re doing well.

10. Take what you’ll use.  Look around your room and identify everything you use on a daily basis.  If you use it at home, you’ll use it at college.  This goes for clothes, shoes, organizers, furniture.  If you use it every day, it’s worth the space

What did you learn your first semester of college?

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