What I Wish I Knew Before Leaving for College
By Anna Bennett
1. Don’t change your Facebook name. Change your Facebook.
Sorry, but changing your name from “Katie Hartman” to “Kay T Hearts” won’t protect you from college admissions officers creeping on your profile. Instead of changing your name, clean up your profile. During the admissions process, tighten your privacy settings (as you should anyway) and get rid of any photos you wouldn’t want an admissions person to see (i.e., red cups, skimpy clothing, looking intoxicated, etc.). Be extra safe by hiding your tagged photos altogether and making your profile and cover photos the only ones available. Enable the “View as” tool, which is on the drop-down menu below your cover photo on the right.
2. Blowing the money you made from your part-time job = BAD decision.
In most cases, living away from home means managing your own bank account. As a high school student, a part-time job may mean pocket change in addition to the support you get from your parents. In college, there are ample amounts of expenses you’ll have that you would have never considered before. So, although it may be tough, try not to blow your extra cash on frivolous items. When your bank account is dry and you’re sick of bothering your parents for more money, you’ll appreciate the cushion.
3. Your group of friends may be completely different than what you’ve set up for yourself.
It may be comforting to solidify a small circle of friends months prior to school, but there’s no need to go over the top with it. The likelihood is that you’ll get together with this crew for the first couple weekend nights, but they won’t remain your “crew” for long. Starting a Facebook message thread with a bunch of people you’ve only met once at an NYC meet-up in no way guarantees a life-long friend.
4. Few professors will get to know you.
Unless you make them know you. In college, especially as a freshman, you may be in lectures as large as 500 students. It’s impractical for professors to know all their students on a personal level. Knowing this, it is up to you to make yourself stand out. Some helpful tips: introduce yourself on the first day, sit towards the front, raise your hand often, and most importantly, utilize office hours—if you seek help on assignments, you may just get an A for effort…
5. Getting involved is the best way to find your place.
A great way to get comfortable in college is join some type of organization, whether it’s an intramural sports team, Greek life, student government, or literally anything (my school has a hilarious Quidditch team—and yes, they run around on brooms). Joining something makes a large, intimidating school feel small and intimate, and doesn’t hurt your resume, either.
6. Your wardrobe is irrelevant.
While high school may have been a fashion show, none of that means anything anymore in college. Spending absurd amounts of money on a brand new wardrobe is pointless. You’ll be living with many students your age, which means there will be plenty of closets to raid.
7. Keep a calendar.
There’s a reason for “syllabus week” other than slacking off and partying with all your new friends. Although classes may not be deep into material just yet, this is a chance to get organized. College schedules can get confusing and jam-packed, so it’s best to write important dates ASAP to avoid stress later on.
8. Read the e-mails your college sends you.
They may seem copious and spam-like, but try to at least skim the e-mails your college sends you. Often, they contain important information (that may hurt you academically if overlooked) and awesome opportunities, like a career fair or scholarships you may apply for. Missed e-mails = missed chances.
9. Don’t go home every other weekend.
Especially during the first few months of school, everyone is on their game when it comes to making friends. Friendships form very quickly. As homesick as you may be during this transition, you don’t want to miss out on bonding experiences with people who could become your life-long friends.
10. Self-motivation is KEY.
Nobody is going to hold your hand–your happiness and success all depends on you. Sitting and waiting for good luck to come along isn’t going to cut it. DO something instead.
Anna Bennett, Greeley Class of 2010, is a communications major in her junior year at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.