What I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

A candor account of everything that I wish I knew before my freshman year of college.

Picture this: you’re 18 years old and packing your room up to move into college. You’re the oldest child and the first in your family to attend college. You’ve tried to find everything you could on the Internet about how it’s going to be, but you still feel unprepared. That 18 year old was me, just a few years ago. So, now I’m going to share with you everything that I wish someone would have told me before I moved into a college dorm.

Dorm Rooms

As much as you want your dorm room to be the picture perfect Pinterest room you’ve had saved to your “College” board since 2016, it’s probably not going to happen. And thats okay!

First, dorm rooms are small and you need to choose functionality over design every time. The lava lamp might be a really cool touch, but a microwave will probably be much more useful. Try to use every inch of space in as many useful ways that you can.

Second, keep your color scheme to two or three and try to use light colors. Keeping the colors in your room lighter, especially if you have limited window light (like I did!) can be a huge difference in how spacious your room feels or not. Even if you are normally messy, try to keep your room clean. Make your bed. Pick up your clothes. Do what you can to keep an organized space for both you and your roommate.

Packing

Packing for school is one of the most intimidating parts of going. But listen, you do not need every pair of shoes you own. I promise. Make or download a packing guide and utilize it! Blankets are important and so are rain jackets. 15 dresses are not.

There is no dress code in college. Most people wear a t-shirt with shorts every day when it’s hot and sweatpants when it’s cold. Nike shorts? Go for it. Tank tops? Do it. No one cares what you are wearing. I dressed cute in high school; I went so far as to wearing dresses every Friday. Now I consider wearing leggings instead of sweats dressing up. Bring clothes that are comfortable, that’s most important.

Pro Tip: Don’t bring light grey tops. This is one that I really wish I knew before moving in. You will most likely sweat on your way to class, especially if you have to speed walk from one building to another. On hot days, a backpack with grey shirt is your worst enemy! Sweat wicking clothes are your friends! Pack clothes that you will feel comfortable wearing both physically and mentally.

Roommates

You are not going to like your roommate 100% of the time. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It doesn’t matter if you have been best friends for 10 years and finally get to live together; there will be disagreements. Again, that is okay! Respect is the most important thing you can share with a roommate. Don’t take their stuff without asking-even if you know they’ll be alright with it. Try not to let your mess take over their side of the room. Keep the bathroom counters clean. It’s a learning curve to live in a dorm room. Be patient both with yourself and your roommate.

9 months is a long time to live in a single room with someone, so set boundaries. Are other people allowed to spend the night? What time is lights-out? How clean do you want the space to be? What temperature should we keep the room? These questions may seem trivial, trust me I ignored them, and then my roommate put the heat on 83 in the middle of a September day- I wish I knew to talk about this beforehand!

Random roommates. The horror stories that surround that phrase is astonishing. But relax, it’s not the end of the world. I had random roommates my freshman year and two of them (I was in a 4 person dorm) ended up being my best friends. Sophomore year, I had a roommate from hell. But I survived. It sucked for the time we had to live together, but we managed it. Don’t be scared of going random, especially if it’s your only option. Use university pairing programs or Facebook groups to find a roommate if you’re too nervous to go random!

Partying

The party scene at most colleges is pretty good. Students know how to have a good time. If you don’t party, that is just fine. Most colleges have programs designed especially for students who don’t enjoy the party life. My school has fun events every Thursday night just so students who don’t drink or party have something to do on Thursday nights. You can always find people similar to you. Join clubs, talk to people in your classes, and make friends with people on your hall. I promise you don’t have to spend your freshman year alone in your room. I wish I knew how easy it was to make friends my first semester of college. Put yourself out there and you WILL find someone who you can relate to.

Believe it or not, you can go to parties and not drink. Maybe avoid frat parties and darties, but a pregame or party for a friend’s birthday is completely do-able. Friends won’t push you to drink if you say that you don’t. If they do push you-they aren’t your friends. A lot of my friends will hold red solo-cups with just water or plain juice in them at parties to “fit in” more. If that will make you more comfortable, do it! Not drinking and still going to parties is a completely valid choice.

Volunteering to be the DD gives you have a golden excuse to not touch alcohol, you’ll save money, and your friends will be super grateful. I wish I knew the DD trick when I started school. As someone who had early classes, drinking was never really my plan. I could’ve spent time with friends making memories if I had just offered to be DD instead of feeling uncomfortable for not wanting to drink.

Let me know in the comments any other college topics you want covered!

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