11 Tips for New College Freshman!

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About to head off for college? Sweet! College is great. You get to be your own boss, there are thousands of new friends and experiences to make, you can eat cupcakes for breakfast if you want, the possibilities are endless! I made a few mistakes here and there but generally had a successful experience. Looking back, there’s advice I received from college grads that I’m really glad I had before I started. There were also a couple things I learned the hard way. Anyway, here are some of my tips to pass along to incoming freshman. They’ll help you have a great 4 years (and hopefully keep you from paying for some college mistakes for years to come).

{1} Don’t pick the most exciting, most notable, most expensive school unless you’ve received scholarships.

Unless there’s a specific school you need to attend to get a certain job, big school or community college, it really doesn’t matter which school you attended. It just matters that you went and you graduated. Picking the $50k per year school will come back to bite you when you have to start paying your student loans back. I went to an in-state school for the last 3 years of school and it saved me tons of money. My student loan payments were only $60/month and I was able to pay them off years before the deadline. I have friends who pay $1,000 or more per month, and will continue to do so for the next decade or more.

{2} Know that you can always transfer schools or switch majors if your current one is not fitting your wants/needs.

Switching schools or majors a year in is a lot less life-altering than wasting 4 years (and all that tuition money) on a degree you won’t use. Figure out now which paths are working for you and which ones aren’t. Trust your intuition and get on a path that makes the best sense.

{3} Don’t drink and drive. Duh. And know your alcohol puke limit.

Uber is the easiest thing in the world. Use it. And also, figure out your drink limit; like how many drinks you can have BEFORE you puke in the middle of the beer pong table or all over your date. If you’re THAT KID at the party, it’ll stick with you all 4 years.

{4} Don’t wear flip flops on campus when it’s rained.

Flip Flops become slippery death shoes, even after the rain is over. If you step on wet painted street/sidewalk lines, you’re toast.

{5} Don’t get a credit card. Don’t. 

If you can’t pay for something now, it’s unlikely you’ll be about to pay off a credit card balance in full in one month. Interest rates for college kids are sky high and you’ll end up paying way more back than you spent. Don’t use student loan money as your living/fun money either. You have to pay that ish back too… with interest. If you want more money to spend, get a work-study job on campus.

{6} Study abroad.

Everybody needs to experience other countries, languages, and cultures. There are student loans and other programs to help you pay for it if you can’t afford it. This is the one thing I wish I would have known about earlier in my college career. By the time I found out about it, there were no classes I could take.

{7} Take advantage of Planned Parenthood and on campus health centers.

Sex happens so be responsible about it. Get tested before every new partner, use the free condoms they hand out, etc. You really don’t need to get pregnant, impregnate somebody, or get an STD while you’re studying for finals.

{8} Live on campus and do ALL the freshman activities.

This is the best way to meet new friends and find your people. The best thing about college is there’s no popular group to compare yourself to or aspire to join. Everybody does their own thing and it’s marvelous! Find your own tribe.

{9} Guys and Girls both: don’t play games when it comes to relationships.

There are a million fish in the sea so if one person is stressing you out, end it and move on. Either date somebody or don’t date them. Don’t string them along. Don’t lie to them. Don’t date 5 people at once. Be honest, but be nice. If you want a relationship, say it. If you want to just hook up, say it. If you just want to be friends, say it… But say it before things get weird or people get hurt. Everybody already had enough drama in high school. It doesn’t need to continue in college.

{10} Get as much work experience in your field as you can while you’re in school.

Do co-ops, do internships, talk with people that are already in your chosen career field. It can be really hard to get hired when you’ve had no experience so bite the bullet and work while you’re taking classes. Yes it will be hard and busy. Get over it. Once you’re in the real world, nobody’s holding your hand and helping you with your assignments. It’s you against a million other applicants so make yourself stand out with your kickass knowledge and experience.

{11} Have the BEST time.

Go to parties (but don’t get arrested). Go on trips with your buddies (ask for a passport for your birthday). Try things you’ve never done. Hang with people you never would have hung with before. Take chances. LIVE. Your college years are supposed to be crazy and messy. It’s ok to be broke and do a few not-so-smart things. It’s less ok to do those things when you’re older so get it all out now. Get decent grades. Get your degree. And have a blast.

Good luck!

Feel free to share this with any new college students you may know!

And please leave any advice you have that you wish you would have known back then!

Added Note: If you aren’t planning on going to college because you can’t afford it or you think you’re too old, PLEASE reconsider. Go to your high school guidance counselor or a community college’s financial aid office. They will help you with the daunting financial aid process. I didn’t have any money to pay for college, but the good thing about being broke is that you qualify for state and federal grants. Whatever you can’t get covered by grants, you can get covered by loans. Get a fixed rate loan with the lowest interest rate possible, and take out the bare minimum to pay for your classes and food. It’s extremely difficult to make a good living wage (legally) without a degree. Invest in yourself for the next few years so you have a shot at a better life. I promise it’s worth it.

 

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