Rules for freshmen to survive their first year

Brittney Christ

If this is your first semester at college, you are probably overwhelmed with the sheer capacity of freshman year. You might be nervous, full of angst, or even just merely excited. However, there are many things in college that are severely different from high school, so you should go into it with an open mind.

High school was the time of conformity and schedules. You had to ask to use the restroom and were assigned classes. I was even assigned to a specific lunch time. So it was hard to adjust to the fact that my first college class was at 7:30 a.m., and it didn’t start or end by the sound of a bell. As a graduating senior to a fumbling freshman, here are a few rules to make your transition a little smoother.

1. Do not ask to use the restroom. Just do it!

You are officially a grown adult who can use the restroom whenever you need to. But be mindful about it. Many professors do ask that you try to go before or after class to limit disruptions. It is super embarrassing to just get up and walk out, but just do it! You will be one step closer to adulthood.

2. Make your class schedule work for you.

Do not assume that you need to follow the high school schedule of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you work better at night, take night classes. If you have work at night, do morning and afternoon classes. However, some of your classes that you need may only be offered at a certain time, so be careful about what your priorities are.

3. Let go of judgment and just be yourself.

You are going to see some “weird” people, because college is like a giant tossed salad. Avoid being exclusive. You will meet fun, new people in all of your classes, so expect a whole new dating pool as well as a sea of people to become your future BFF or roommate. Never judge a book by its cover. Want to come to class in sweatpants? Join the club. Want to wear a suit and heels? The hallways are your runway.

4. Be flexible.

If you come into college with certain expectations, you may be left feeling empty and unfulfilled. College is full of the unexpected. If you are rigid and expect to have the perfect college experience, you will be disappointed. But have no fear! You make your own experience, so face college life head-on, and remember that professors and other students are also under an insane amount of stress, so learn to decompress.

5. Take care of yourself.

You need to get your sleep and eat well. Otherwise, you will be a month in and completely zapped. Stock up on fruits and veggies and try not to live on ramen. Fresh food is not the most expensive option. Eating out for every meal adds up, and you are constantly eating a string of foods loaded with extra sugar, salt and fat. Instead of not planning out your meals and ending up at Gordito Burrito for the third time that week, plan out your meals and your snacks. Bring some almond butter and an apple, or some hummus and carrots. You will have more energy if you eat well, and make sure to get a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

6. Resist the urge to party.

Yes, I know. College parties! But what you do not always see is how it feels dealing with the hangover while trying to listen to a lecture on art history the next morning. Not to mention, you probably got a less than desirable amount of sleep and your skin is dry and breaking out from all of the alcohol. We all know the party walk of shame the next day from the way you slouch, your eyes droop from a lack of sleep, and your huge, looming dark under-eye circles. We know because we have been there. Also, if you party you might have the urge to skip class.

7. Go to class, duh!

Since there is no school admin calling home if you skip class, you will be tempted. Sometimes, temptation will win. But skip only if you are deathly ill, or something terrible has happened. After six classes, your teacher can drop you, and you will have a bad mark on your transcript. Some professors also give you lower grades if you skip more than a certain amount of days. Some professors only allow one day to skip, so be wise in your use. Not to mention, you need to be in class to learn. Keep yourself accountable.

8. Manage your money.

Do not wait until you are almost $5,000 in debt your sophomore year (like myself) to get help. Learn to budget, and budget for everything, even your morning Starbucks or your nail polish collection. Stick to your budget, and remain frugal. Clip coupons, limit your partying to once every few weeks, and learn to cook at home as much as possible to keep costs down. Use public transportation (it is free with a Sacramento State commuter pass, you already pay for it through tuition) and limit your day trips to San Francisco. You will be surprised with how much money you can save.

Freshman year can be scary, but if you come to college with an open mind and some patience, you will remain cool, calm and collected while all of your friends are freaking out over their finals and their “Freshman 15.”