13 Things You Should Know when You Go to College

Most of these tips are not in How to Survive College books. Incoming freshmen, take notes. 

1. Your parents miss you. I know it's only been twelve hours. CALL. They're just as used to you living with them as you are to having them around. The only difference is that you now live with a bunch of new and exciting people and they now live exclusively with each other. 

2. Upperclassmen rarely purchase adequate meal plans. Make friends. Bribery is an acceptable part of building relationships in college. 

3. Show up and do your homework. Obviously, you should do assigned homework. You know that you should go to office hours. Look up terms you don't know. Ask questions. I had a professor last semester that constantly used words I didn't know, and I would ask for clarification immediately before making my point. 

4. Specificity trumps showing off. Most people who use big words are doing so because they want to prove a very exact point. "Ashamedly" does not mean the same thing as "abashedly." Find some words that mean the thing you mean. Do that now. 

5. Maintaining basic hygiene is the key to good relationships. Do your laundry (including your sheets). Take a shower. Wear deodorant. Opening a window for about an hour can work wonders for all the little smells that build up in dorm rooms. 

6. Everyone knows more than you about somethingIf you are sitting in class, I will guarantee that your professor knows more about the subject than you do. They are probably also more politically savvy (probably). Your roommate might know more about world religions. Whatever the case may be, know that you are not an expert in everything. 

7. It is more valuable to be right at the end of an argument than at the beginning. This means that if you realize that someone who opposes your opinion is right, change your opinion. Agree with them. It's a mark of intellectual hospitality (see a video on this here) to be willing to change your mind. 

8. You'll be cool to someone. College doesn't have clearly defined ranks like high school does. Do your best to find your people. 

9. Wear actual clothing to class. Nothing tells a professor that you don't care like showing up in pajamas every day. If it happens every now and then, that's okay. Use your college years as a chance to practice professionalism. 

10. Your body is your computer. You can't save new information with a virus or 9% battery. Eat. Sleep. 

11. Focus on your strengths. Trying to turn your weaknesses into your strengths is a waste of time and squanders your gifts. Sharpen your weak points to the extent that they aren't liabilities, but don't try to become something you aren't. College is about testing yourself to the point that the Real You starts to emerge. If the Real You is truly awful at Math, that's okay. Pass the class you're in and move on. The Real You might be a historian in the making. 

12. It's okay to be confused and weirded out. College is weird. Jobs are weird. Marriage is weird. People are weird. God is weird. Don't worry if it all feels crazy, or if the crazies hit a few weeks in. It's a part of the journey. 

13. These are not necessarily the best years of your life. They might be the best so far, but don't ask college to be better than your first job, your marriage, parenthood, retirement, and that European vacation you will eventually take in your thirties. Enjoy them, but know that life is bigger than college.


What did I miss? Leave a comment!