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Surviving Freshman Year of College

Your Ultimate Guide to Starting College Off Right

So, you have decided to go to college. During this trying time, you may face stresses that you have not experienced before. Fear not, freshman, I will teach you the ways of adapting to young adulthood and college life. I offer you my best advice pulled from my personal experience.

Packing, Moving, and Unpacking

If you are moving to campus apartments or a dorm room, you will need to do the necessary evil that is packing away your things. Pack your belongings however you want—just stay organized and start early! If you are packing last minute and need to leave before move-in day as soon as possible, your stress levels will be through the roof. 

Gradually packing your belongings that you plan to take with you over the course of a month is an easy way to alleviate stress and organize your things more easily. This will also prevent you from rushing and forgetting your favorite things at home.

 When moving, try to go with the cheapest option. Trust me, you will need that money later.  If your college is local, try borrowing a relative’s or friend’s truck for free.

If you plan to add furniture to your new space, I recommend waiting until you are properly moved in. Buy from a local furniture store in your new college town. Hauling large furniture across the country or even just a few miles away can be difficult and stressful. If you must take any furniture with you because you do not have the money to buy new pieces when you arrive, prioritize your desk and sleeping furniture. You will need these the most.

 Unpacking is the most difficult, but also, most satisfying part of a move. You are tired from the drive or flight and just want to rest. Just get it done. Once you are finally all set up in your new, personalized space it will feel so worth it!

Getting the Basics

I have created a list of the most common commodities that freshman may need to buy for their first move.
  • Linens and Laundry: Bed spread, curtains, laundry basket, laundry detergent, shower curtain/rod/rings, soaps
  • Electronics and Appliances: Microwave, laptop, mini-fridge, coffee maker, printer/scanner/copier, headphones, TV
  • School supplies: Booksack, desk and chair, large organizational binder, calender, dry erase board and markers

Campus/Schedule Walkthrough

Once you are all settled in and have had time to rest, I recommend that you take a campus walk. Learn the layout forwards, sideways, and backwards. Learn where your campus police station is in case of emergency. Locate police points (usually poles with blue lights and a phone or panic button) for your safety when walking campus at night.  This will keep you safe and prevent you from getting lost on your first day, which could make you late for your very first class if you had not done your walk-through.

Food

We all know the starving college student trope. It is not founded without good reason. Unless your parents will send you support money or you have a job that affords this food, you will go hungry at some point. Not every dorm comes with a kitchen or even a communal kitchen. My dorm had absolutely no way to cook anything, so my only options were whatever microwave meals I could fit in the mini freezer, dried goods, and fast food.

Try to keep your meals as healthy as possible. You will, without fail, gain weight in your first year of college. The cheapness and accessibility of junk food will be your stomach’s undoing.  Try to eat fast food sparingly. If your college has a cafeteria, eat their healthy options there. This will help to keep your weight lower and most colleges offer cafeteria meal plans that will save you money in the long run. Spend it wisely and plan your meals. Food, next to study materials, will most likely be your biggest expense.

Saving Money

Saving money during this time, even with a job will be nearly impossible. However, spending smart will at least keep you from starving while also being able to afford your overpriced college materials.

 Buy used books. Save on parking by walking or biking to your classes. Eat out sparingly. Don’t impulse buy. Prioritize your spending and analyze your bank statements to find any financial holes you may be putting yourself into.

If you are short on cash for books for food, check out my article on the best apps and websites to make extra money. You can make some money with just your phone and some work ethic!

Final Advice

 Pay attention in class and do all of your homework on time all the time. Homework can save your final grade.

Be friends with professors.  Most of them are cool, reasonable people. College professors usually understand more than highschool teachers that life happens. If you show them that you really do care about the class and that you appreciate the time and effort it takes to educate you, they may even be willing to pull a few strings for you when the going gets rough.

Sleep!  If you don’t sleep, you will get nothing done and just feel sick all the time. Do not overwork yourself and always make time to catch those Z’s.

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