What do you wish you had known when starting college?

Some of my friends are nervous prefrosh and asked me to make a list of all the things I wish I had known when going to college so I made a list for them. It has stuff like “bring flipflops to wear in the bathrooms,” “don’t put styrofoam in the microwave,” “bring a ton of quarters for laundry,” and “this is how you cash a check.”

Sadly however I am worried that I am going to not think of an awful lot of things.

So if you can think of something that you had to learn the hard way, or you had problems with, or just wish you had known before the problem was sitting right in front of you please post it here so I can be sure my list is as complete as reasonably possible.

I’m not in college yet, but this is important…

Facebook is really addicitive. I have a college account (purdue.edu)…I just can’t stay away from it!

Really, it’s really addictive.

That it wouldn’t take me 14 years to finish! :ahh:

What I would be doing 25+ years later (now) so I could have better selected my classes.

communication is key to any relationship, including student / faculty. If you’ve got something going on, talk about it. Your professors are people too!

You’ll get out of college whatever you put into college. Remeber, you’re paying for it, so make the best of it.

Get to know your professors.

I also have the ultimate list of stuff to bring to college. It was passed down through about 15 people or so, I just typed it up. PM/e-mail me if you want it.

Remember to have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to take chances, to be the person that you want to be. This is a new chance, a new start. The people at your college aren’t going to know you, they will be just meeting you. Shape the person that you want to be, and become it.

Take some fun classes! Don’t overwhelm yourself with all of your tough classes at once.

No matter how many times you forget your ATM code (I have the running record of all of my friends for forgetting it 6 times), go to the bank, bring your liscence and they’ll give it to you.

BEWARE OF CREDIT CARDS! Most people haven’t been out on their own before. Most people haven’t had credit cards. There’s no one there to tell you no. If you want to go to the mall and get 17 Louis Voittan purses, mom isn’t going to be in your dorm room when you get back to yell at you to take them back. I have a friend right now who is paying over $300/month just in credit card interest. Don’t do that, it’s very bad.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to spoil yourself sometimes! Some of those things that mom and dad say no to at home (for me, it’s my weekly ice cream run to Coldstone), you can have now. Just be sure to use self control.

Ratemyprofessor.com is your friend. If you don’t see very much in the way of ratings, your school might have its own site. Talk to your RA, see if one exists. This site is your friend and will help you avoid a really bad semester.

Get to know your RA, they are older and have been there before. Every college is different, they will be able to tell you the little tricks of survival at yours.

And finally, HAVE FUN! This is college, one of the most fun times in your life! Enjoy it, make lots of new friends, and have the time of your life!

I work in a building here at UT called the Student Services Building. There is actually a branch of Students Services that falls under Student Affairs.

Within that are many areas:
New Students Services
Student Retention Services
Students with Disabilities
Mental Health & Counseling
Financial Aid
Legal Services for Students
Health Center
Dean of Students
and many more

In the websites of the universities that you choose/select - you will find these services. Use them.

Tomorrow I am at an outreach sponsored by Mental Health & Counseling called Stress Fest. We’ll have biofeedback, acupuncture, massage chairs,
games, a small petting zoo, snow cones, cool music - it is something our students services does to get the word out to college students during finals/crunch time - that you can access help during stress and bad times and help maintain during good. It’s here for you. Get connected with what your university can do for you to help make it an incredible journey.

That’s basically my advice as well. College is a good time for you to explore, figure out what you like doing, and try things out, both good and bad. More importantly, for most people it is their first chance to be an adult, which means the freedom to make your own decisions and push boundaries. As well as having to live with the consequences of your bad decisions.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to spoil yourself sometimes! Some of those things that mom and dad say no to at home (for me, it’s my weekly ice cream run to Coldstone), you can have now. Just be sure to use self control.

MSU has a Coldstone now? Back in my day (BSME '95) they only had Melting Moments, the MSU Dairy Store (which was conveniently located directly between two of my classes almost every spring, and was only $0.50 for a single scoop back then), and half price tuesdays at the Quality Dairy.

Yup, there’s a Coldstone right off of Grand River on MAC. Melting Moments and the Dairy Store are still here. Dairy Store is still like, $1.50 or something for a couple of scoops.

  • Learn the words to the fight song, even if you don’t like sports.

  • Treat it like a job. You go to work everyday. I wish I knew that one.

  • It’s not just a job. Have fun. Try new things. It’s not all study.

  • Do something. SAE car, give campus tours, join an organization on campus. Something.

  • Eat healthy. Yes - you can have Mt. Dew and pizza EVERY day. But soon you’ll hate pizza, and no one wants to hate pizza.

  • Don’t be stupid. I have to remind the students on the robot team every week, so I assume college people need to know that too.

  • Be yourself - not who you think you should be. College is the perfect time to do this.

  • Just because you can buy 50 giant pixie stix with your roommates Sam’s club membership does not mean you should eat them all at once. Laughing colored sugar out your nose will be your punishment.

  • Don’t call your family on April 1st and tell them you are in jail and you need bail money. They might forget it’s April 1st. Especially if you tell them you got caught doing an April fools day prank. Mom’s don’t like that.

  • Call home.

  • Do laundry. At least once a month. Even if the smell doesn’t bother you.

  • Hang out with people from different majors. It’s OK. I had more fun with a bunch of music majors…

I’m done for now… lots of life lessons from college.

College was the best twenty years of my life.

I started as a dual-enrolled HS student because there was no calculus at my school back in 1975. I have credits from six colleges, all my degrees (BS’83, MS’85, PhD’90) are from Georgia Tech, and I spent four years as an assistant professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Missouri. I finally left college for the ‘real world’ in 1995, and thankfully discovered FIRST a year after that.

The most important thing I can tell anyone about college is to enjoy it as much as you can and follow your imagination wherever it leads you. If your goal is to be a professional, then your education will never be complete. Keeping your imaginative fire burning should be your top priority. The knowledge and skills you can acquire are (like the money you can earn) just fuel to keep you moving toward the larger goals you set for yourself by constantly exercising your imagination.

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Manage your time well & Start your work as soon as you get it. I was lucky enough to go to a high school that overloading you with work so you got used to high work loads. A lot of people on my freshman floor did not have that and goofed around until 9pm the night before it was due, needless to say they didn’t sleep those nights.

Know there will be nights that you have all-nighters.

If you drink, be smart. Alternate between an alcoholic drink and water. You’ll be thankful for it in the morning.

Make friends with upperclassman in your major. They’ll be able to help you out if you need it, or even borrow books from.

First semester, only join one or two clubs at most. Overloading with too many extras might be hard to adjust to college life.

Get one credit card through your bank with a small credit limit (~$500.) This teaches you to learn financial responsibility and build credit. Don’t use it unless you know you have the money to pay it off though. If the bank keeps increasing your limit, like some banks do, call and have them lower it again.

Mix your hard classes with easier ones each semester.

Don’t be afraid to change your focus in school. If you went in for certain major and discovered it wasn’t for you, go to something that will make you happy. I did this in a way. I thought through my work with Robotics I wanted to do design, turns out I didn’t really enjoy it; however, manufacturing & materials interested me a lot more.

Understand that sometimes people you were really close to in high school aren’t that way in college.

Take advantage of internships or co-ops.

Create a resume your freshman year. Get it critiqued by professionals in your area or your school’s career center. It helps to have a baseline to add to once you have more experience.

Have a folder/box with all important documents in them - bills, bank statements, passport - in a place where you know you can find them. It helps having them all in one place when you need something.

Taking off from that, make sure your parents teach you how to do laundry before you leave home.

I laughed at some of those above.
Boring stuff first:

Although you have probably heard it before, don’t leave your work til 20minutes before its due in … it is so tempting to do so…
Try and be considerate to flatmates/neighbours… loud music is fine, but if they want to go to sleep, turn it down or relocate to someone elses room…

Facebook is way too addictive … as eugenia said. You can sit there and find random stuff out from your friends and it just wastes your day
Don’t sit around in your room… go to the uni bar (well, probably doesn’t apply there) or to the common room… just do something
Laundry, do it at least once a week… not because of the smell, but because otherwise you get to the end of the month and everyone is doing huge amounts of washing… and you will be stuck waiting for hours : Best time of the week to do washing : first thing on a weekday… even better is to take a train home , stay at home for weekend with free decent nosh(food), and get your parents to do your washing :wink:

Get them to make some filing cards or fill in a notebook of random useful stuff , eg what the symbols mean on clothes labels, how to cook an egg until its safe, etc
If there is a day to sign up for various activities / societies, sign up to as many as possible. you don’t realise how much time you actually get.

First week. Go out EVERY NIGHT! Meet people and make friends! everyone is in the same situation. keep this in mind and you shall suceed.

Enjoy your freedom from family, but try to pack up neatly before they come to collect you at end of term/year… get aload of the collapsable boxes to take your stuff in, then throw boxes under your bed.

Don’t forget to pay for any stuff you need to, such as accomadation. you may get fined if you pay late. (like i lost £40 due toforgetting to pay…)

Are you going to college to get a degree, or an education?

My experiences at Clarkson taught me, that in some classes, you can cram for the tests and pass the course without learning much at all. (Though you will often pay for doing so down the road, when you’re expected to know the stuff you crammed and forgot).

If you go through college doing this, you will regret it.
So, now I ask people the above question, and ask them to remember this question throughout their college tenure.

Are you going to college to get a degree, or an education?

(Make sure you get both, I’m not advocating a Kamenesque career.)

Hmm. Best way to learn imo is to take notes. you tend to think stuff as you write them and it sticks in your mind…

shame i can’t mention much on drinking, doesn’t apply to you, theoretically…

Back in our “starving artist” days, my wife and I could split a Quality Dairy cone and make it a meal.

Don’t miss out on the following quoted from lyrics from a pretty funny (but a little mature) play on Broadway. If anyone wants the name, let me know.

I found these all rather amusing and bolded the ones I agree with a lot, even though I’m still in college… (part time student, full time job - working does that to you)

I Wish I Could Go Back To College lyrics:

I wish I could go back to college.
Life was so simple back then.

What would I give to go back and live in a dorm with a meal plan again!

I wish I could go back to college.
In college you know who you are.
You sit in the quad, and think, “Oh my God!
I am totally gonna go far!”

How do I go back to college?
I don’t know who I am anymore!

I wanna go back to my room and find a message in dry-erase pen on the door!
I wish I could just drop a class…

Or get into a play…

Or change my major…

I need an academic advisor to point the way!
We could be…
**Sitting in the computer lab,
4 A.M. before the final paper is due,
Cursing the world 'cause I didn’t start sooner,
And seeing the rest of the class there, too!
I wish I could go back to college!

How do I go back to college?!

I wish I had taken more pictures.

But if I were to go back to college,
Think what a loser I’d be-
I’d walk through the quad,
And think “Oh my God…”

“These kids are so much younger than me.”

The last 2 lines is what I feel now to a certain extent. LOL
I’m in a commuter college now, so it’s a bit different as the night students are a range of 18-60 year olds, but it’s still weird being old(er) and still in college…

Anybody who tries to stop you while you are walking along on campus, ignore them, especially if they are holding a clipboard. Don’t get sucked in. Sometimes they will even try to follow you. If they ask for money, just say “wish I could” If they ask you “have you…” just say “already did, thanks” and keep walking. People come onto college campuses to take advantage of poor college students who don’t know any better. I see it almost every day. Don’t let it happen to you.

Also, don’t give out information like your address and brithdate and social security numbers to people you don’t know.

Don’t leave your backpack or laptop sitting around. The world isn’t full of FIRSTers. There are theives out there.

And do become involved in something. But make sure it is a good something. Many clubs meet once a week to just sign in and eat pizza. Don’t bother continuing if that is a club you were thinking of being involved in. Make it worthwhile.