So you’ve graduated high-school. Now it’s time for college! You’ve gone from the top of the heap to down in the dumps faster that you can say “Shitake mushrooms!” But don’t despair! Here are 10 tips for you to make it out of freshman year in one piece.

1. Don’t skip the social events during welcome week (Week before classes start)

Sure it would be nice to kick back in your comfy dorm chair to finally play some CoD after that long grueling orientation session you’ve just had to endure. After all, it is your free-time. Don’t. There’s a reason why social events are scheduled during the evening every single day (and all day on the weekend). Whether it’s making your own bamboo plant or just eating ice-cream at a ice-cream social, these events are designed for you to get out there and make new friends. Studies have shown the first week is critical for making friends in college. Chances are, the friends you make during the first week are the friends who you’ll be hanging out with the most during your college years and perhaps even longer. It will be difficult to get through college without friends so please don’t be left out. Don’t be the loner!

2. Don’t sit in the back row of lecture

Why do you want to hide anyways? You can’t see the board/screen and you won’t get much out of it. Class will be a bore and while you can goof off in the back, why should you? You probably paid good money for college. Don’t waste it by sitting in the back. You will get so much more out of lecture if you sit in the front. You will give the professor the impression that you want to be taught.

3. Don’t spend all your free-time playing video games

Notice I didn’t say don’t play them. I said don’t play them to excess. While it’s fine to relax and unwind after a long day of classes, you shouldn’t play more than 2 hours at a time. Video games won’t give you a job. You are in college to learn. Everything else comes a distant second.

4. Don’t skip class

Even if the professor is boring (and trust me, I’ve had my fair share), try to go to class. Even if it is just to sleep, maybe you’ll stay awake long enough to copy down an important formula or way of doing something. Most professors do post the lecture notes online, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can afford not go to class. They will probably cover something not on the slides and then you’ll be screwed.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand

Seriously. I know it’s your first time being in front of hundreds of other students all packed like a can of sardines into one giant room. I don’t care. If you don’t understand, ask questions. The professor is there to help. You won’t look like a fool by asking for clarification. The fool is the person who thinks he’ll be made a fool if he raises his hand. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

6. Do get to know your professors

It can be intimidating with so many people next to you, so go to office hours for a bit of one on one. It will show the professor you’re interested in what he/she is teaching and that you care about your work. When the final grade comes out and you’re desperate for a curve, you’ll tank me. Perhaps your teacher will know you care and bump you up. Besides, it is a great way for learning about opportunities in research you can do with the professor.

7. Watch out for what’s in the food they serve you

Before you bite into that juicy hamburger or dig into that bowl of pasta, stop. Take a look at what is in the food. UMD dining staff is notorious for adding non-edible material to their list of ingredients. The list currently includes dead bumble bees and cardboard, and flies. If you do find anything, save it and take it to the dining staff. They want to know your concerns. They probably won’t do anything about it though. It’s been going on for years. Do you want fries with that?

8. Get to know your roommate(s)

They’re the first people you see in the morning after you wake up and the one who you’ll probably spend the most time with. You don’t have to be best buddies if you don’t want to. Just be friendly to them. If they need your help, give it to them. They’ll do the same for you.

9. Get to know your classmates

Going to class or doing the homework won’t be so dull if you have people to struggle through it with you. Introduce yourself on the first day and ask if they’re interested in joining together for a study group. Life will be easier this way, trust me. Maybe you’ll find friends this way. Or potential girlfriends/boyfriends.

10. Join a club

It isn’t all about the academics in college. It is also about discovering your interests. Join something your passionate about. Is it swimming? Hiking? Singing to old people perhaps? People watching? With over 500 clubs to choose from, you’ll never get bored in your free-time. Already in one? Join a few more! Meet new people and form lasting friendships!



Computer Science student at the University of Maryland. Bibliophile and enjoys trying new things and hanging out with friends.

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