● By Aimee Cormier
By Rachel Gulotta
If storied halls and ivory towers are in your future, young freshman, let this guide help you with everything from setting up your dorm room to surviving orientation.
Over The Summer
You’ve just walked the graduation stage, cried through Green Day’s “Time Of Your Life,” become increasing nostalgic over the little details of everyday home life and possibly started making a list of everything you need to do with old friends before parting ways for college. Luckily, we’ve made a checklist of pre-college necessities for you, leaving more time for that bucket list.
Ask your mom to spend the day with you, doing laundry, ironing, cooking and cleaning. Learn the basics from a pro so you’re not left stranded in the laundry room wondering how to treat your whites and brights. Also, look into your school’s laundry facilities. Will you need spare change? Start saving those quarters now.
Don’t overdo the Facebook group, you will meet people on your freshman hall, in class and in any club activities you choose to join. Volunteering is another way to get involved with people on campus and in the community. Join your incoming class’ Facebook page, but realize that true friendships and interactions are the products of time and face-to-face encounters.
If you are a female, find out if your prospective campus has a HerCampus page for insights into the daily life and times of current students. Visit hercampus.com for more information.
For ladies and gentlemen, your campus may have a sub-Reddit filled with invaluable information. You can also start a thread of your own. Search reddit.com for further information, or visit reddit.com/r/ULL and reddit.com/r/LSU/ for local college updates.
You should have received your AP scores by July. Make sure to send them to your chosen college or university. You may start the year off as a sophomore, even if only in name.
Sites like chegg.com and ratemyprofessors.com are a great way to get ready for the Fall. Chegg is a textbook buying/selling site with 24/7 study aids and scholarship opportunities as an added bonus. Rate My Professors is pertinent when signing up for classes. Current students leave comments and ratings for classes they’ve taken and professors they’ve loved.
Making A Dorm Room Your Own
As a freshman, your dorm room can be your sanctuary. From your favorite stuffed animal to a full range of gaming devices, your dorm should reflect your personality and past while displaying creature comforts to get you through your first year away from home.
• Bring plenty of pictures of family, friends and home to hang on your walls, perhaps forgoing the “Animal House” poster.
• You will find a great online checklist for dorm essentials at collegepackinglist.com and an even more expansive checklist at myfuture.com/schools/tools-checklists/off-to-college.
Getting along with your roommate:
• Give your roommate a call over the summer to coordinate who will bring what: mini fridge, TV, coffee maker, futon, etc.
• Discuss daily patterns within the first week of school. When do you wake up? How often do you hit snooze? When do you go to sleep? What is your most productive time of day? Least productive? What temperature do you usually like the room to be (assuming you can change the temperature)? How often should you clean the room? How do you feel about friends being in the room? How regularly do you watch TV or movies? Do you plan on studying in the room or saving the space for rest and relaxation?
• Despair not if you don’t spend every waking hour with the person who now knows more about your daily habits than maybe even your parents. Roommate relationships are a work-in-progress built on mutual respect for each other’s space and preferences. With a little give and take, your roommate may stay with you all four years of college, then to infinity and beyond.
Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Fun
Learn more about nutrition, fitness and wellness. If you played a sport in high school or have never used the word “run” other than to describe your encounter with a bear, you should still plan to do some kind of activity everyday for at least 20 minutes to stimulate your brain and all of those new neural pathways. An easy way to get in those 20 minutes is by walking to class, the union, the library and up and down your dorm room stairs. Check out the campus gym and take a group class like Yoga or Zumba. Another option is to join a club sport. Try something you’ve never done before like ultimate frisbee, rugby or tennis to meet new people and learn a new skill.
Speaking of clubs, consider joining one. Limit club activity to two or three, though, depending on how often they meet. Freshmen tend to act like kids in a candy store on club fair day. Only sign-up for clubs you feel you can dedicate yourself to for more than a week.
Everyone has heard of the dreaded “Freshman 15,” but you do not have to succumb to late night quesadillas and cafeteria pizza. Get creative with dorm room cooking. Dorm room dinner ideas abound at dormroomdinner.com and cookingwithoutakitchen.wordpress.com. Maybe you can experiment with microwave cooking and start a blog of your own.
Orientation is different at every school but is the same everywhere in that it pushes incoming freshmen to meet their new classmates, learn more about their new home and open their eyes to the new possibility that is college. On some campuses, orientation can be as short as one or two days or as long as a week. Schools like LSU have you visit mid-summer, and others like Tulane have orientation the first week you live on campus.
Orientation helps you get into the swing of things. You learn where to go for food, study time, help with classes, the wifi password, a new student I.D., etc. as well as the rules and procedures that will guide you through your first few weeks. Your first days generally include the following:
• Presentations about what to expect from college, how your courses work, which resources are available to you on campus, student health info, etc.
• Splitting off from your parents. Yes, your parents will eventually have to leave campus.
• Spending time with other entering freshmen, usually in a small group lead by an orientation leader (an upperclassmen at your school).
• Eating at the cafeteria and experiencing the bounty that is campus dining.
• Info sessions from current students about college life.
• Socializing/fun activities with other entering freshmen like sporting events, dances and school spirit activities.
• Placement exams for departments like math and foreign languages.
• Meeting with an academic advisor to set short-term and long-term goals for your academic career.
• Registering for your first set of classes as a college student.
• Sleeping in your dorm room/setting up said dorm room and meeting your roommate.
Classes, Exams and Coffee
Academics are the real reason for the new collegiate season. During your first week wander around campus to find a go-to comfy study spot, a quiet spot, an active spot and talk with campus personnel along the way. Cafeteria staff and librarians are always ready to lend an ear to students suffering from homesick blues or study woes. Professors usually don’t mind the company either.
Overall, study smart and study early, don’t miss class, avoid 8 a.m. classes, try out coffee, sample some caffeinated tea and take every opportunity that will enhance your education. Be kind to everyone on campus and say hello as you pass them by, support your school with spirit, travel/study abroad and keep your eyes wide open, soaking in the delicious experiences, people and ideas your college will constantly present.