By Sarah Jane Weill
1. Don’t: Bring your whole closet
Don’t get me wrong, clothes are important. I love all my clothes, so I know how hard it is to choose your favorite clothing items. But when you go to college, you have to make hard decisions like this. Put it in perspective: there really isn’t space in your tiny dorm room to store your entire wardrobe. If you’d rather not have to store socks in your desk drawers and sweaters under your chair, remember to pack selectively.
2. Don’t: Skip over that obscure Art History class
Or whatever class’s course description makes you want to run in the other direction. It may sound weird, but take a chance and sign up for it. Sometimes the best classes are the ones that have nothing to do with your major. Maybe this class will open up your mind, maybe it’ll be a good conversation piece 20 years from now or maybe it’ll give you a good laugh; but either way, it’s an experience that might really be worth having. After all, college is about learning, isn’t it?
3. Don’t: Send emojis as a form of communication to your professor
We all know that texting wouldn’t be texting without the use of emojis. But emailing your professor is not the same thing. It is, in fact, a more serious task. This means using full words (text lingo can be confusing, TBH), proper grammar, capitalization and no emojis. If you’re worried about writing out your thoughts only in words, relax, it’s not as hard as you think. So, save the emojis for your BFFs who will think they are cute and funny, unlike your professors. (Got it? *winky face, *smiling face, *thumbs up)
4. Don’t: Make doing laundry harder than it has to be
Ok, I’m going to say this once and only once: detergent pods are your friends. Let’s be honest here, odds are doing your own laundry is not something you are particularly used to, and you might be a little bit hesitant before doing your first load. But after putting it off week after week, the only clean clothes you have left are two mismatched socks and a pair of jeans. Don’t freak out! Avoid the classic rookie mistake (putting in too much detergent) and simply use pods; all will be well!
5. Don’t: Overdo it when buying your school paraphernalia
You have four years to don your school colors, and just as many years to stock up on all the necessary spirit-wear items. So you don’t have to go buy up the whole store on the first day. Instead, limit yourself to one sweatshirt, maybe one t-shirt too. But that’s it. You don’t need a complete set of school logoed socks, so put them down! Remember this isn’t only about money: there’s that whole space issue again (see above on how many clothes will fit reasonably in your room). And at the end of the day, you really just don’t want to be that kid who is your school’s biggest fan.
6. Do: Wait to buy school supplies at the college bookstore
This one probably applies to your mom. She’s been taking you to Staples since you were in kindergarten for that perfect color-coded set of notebooks, folders and binders at the beginning of the year, and she’s reluctant to give up this tradition. But tell her it has to be done. You don’t need to do all that shopping at home because there’s a huge school bookstore with all the supplies you could ever want. If your mom is really distressed over this change, you can let her shop there with you! Crisis averted.
7. Do: Use textbooks as more than a giant paperweight
They’re heavy, they’re huge, and you might be thinking: “who cares?” But, believe it or not, textbooks hold a vast range of knowledge that most likely will be useful to you at some point. I’m not advocating carrying them everywhere you go; that’s just not realistic. Just make sure you open them every once in a while (cough, cough: exams!) If you’re feeling really ambitious, I’d advise skimming your weekly assignments so that you might understand your professors’ lectures.
8. Do: Take deep breaths when the wifi is slow and Netflix isn’t loading
It’s your worst fear, and, yes it happens. Sometimes it’s the weather, and other times it’s just the amount of people online, but sooner or later the wifi will be down. Of course you’ll be watching Netflix, because you’re “taking a break from work.” But without that almighty power connecting you to the worldwide web, that little loading wheel will just spin to your utter irritation. Don’t panic. This will end. Try, if you can, to look at the bright side: instead of watching another episode of Friends maybe you can catch up on some well-needed sleep. Or you can just keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And Waiting.
9. Do: Make sure you convince your parents that you miss them more than your dogs
This is crucial, for obvious reasons. No explanation necessary.
Sarah Jane Weill is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College.