You will never be more inundated with advice and instructions than you are on your first day of college. (Well, maybe on your wedding day, but at least in that situation you know who your new roommate is.) All you really need to know is that college can be great, and terrible, and confusing, and weird. A little guidance goes a long way. So here are the 10 things I wish I’d known from day one.
1. Break Off Your Long Distance Relationship
Wanna know how to screw up college the day you arrive on campus? Have a girlfriend back home. There are many reasons why long distance is a bad idea, but chief among them is that you’ll never feel fully integrated at your school if you spend every day pining for someone who lives 500 miles away. You won’t want to go out, which means you won’t meet people, which means when you inevitably break up with your girlfriend over Christmas break, you’ll be starting from scratch socially.
It’s not going to work out, so end it on a high note in August and have a fun freshman year instead.
2. Go Out As Much As You Can
…and not just to frat parties or mixers. Go to wine and cheese events with professors, or weird theater parties, or intramural dodgeball games. The more you put yourself out in the world, the more fun you’ll have and the more you’ll learn about the real world.
3. Try (Potentially) Embarrassing Hobbies
Does your school offer improv, or squash, or line dancing, or anything else offbeat? Give it a shot. After college, there’s very little opportunity to make an ass of yourself and blame it on the fact that you’re 19.
4. No Class Before Noon
This is perhaps the most common advice you’ll get — for a reason. I think I had a 9:15 class my first year of school; I say “I think” because I don’t remember ever going to it. It’s like starting a diet before Thanksgiving: You’re setting yourself up to fail.
5. Canned Chili Is Not A Meal
Between classes, and internships, and work, and hella partying, you’ll settle for the quickest and cheapest food around. But microwavable cuisine is not a sustainable diet, especially at 1AM every night for a week. No one expects you to eat kale every day, but do yourself a favor and try to learn how to cook.
6. Resell Your Textbooks
This took me way too long to figure out. When the semester’s over, you never want to look at those tomes again, so the least you can do is make some cash like a straight eBay hustla. If your parents bought your textbooks for you, that’s pure profit.
7. Avoid Big Lectures
Something I did not understand about college professors is that many don’t actually do much work. They lecture and then they bounce, and it’s the teaching assistants who handle all the assignments and exams. I expected some tenured expert grading my exams, but a dude who is four years older than me and just as poor? Not a good look.
8. Take Econ
Obviously, if you’re looking to become a finance bro, you’ll take an economics class. But this applies to those delicate flowers who major in English, or art history, or political correctness. Take a hard-ass math class, or something that will teach you how to balance a checkbook or buy a stock, ’cause you’ll need that knowledge to pay off your student loans after graduation.
9. Take A Class Your Parents Will Hate
“History of Mafia Movies,” or “Bowling 101,” or “Intro To Setting Your Parents’ Money On Fire.” At least one thing for fun that may never apply to your future, but which you’ll always remember as your favorite course ever.
10. Stay Away From A Girl’s Roommates
Just trust me.
Photo Credit: Nazareth College/Flickr
Evan Scott Schwartz (@TheEvanSchwartz) is a writer from New York City.