In addition to Marx and Shakespeare, undergraduate students must be equipped with important knowledge, like, the subtle art of scheduling classes around nap time. Freshman orientation allows students to meet friends, explore campus, and get a glimpse of the next four years. But because these sessions are designed by the school, valuable information is sometimes sacrificed in favor of protocol or special interests. Here are five things that every incoming freshman should know—even if they’re not covered in orientation:
- 1. Hang onto your check book.
Students can spend a fortune on books, and at the end of the semester, bookstores will only buy them back (at a fraction of the price) if that particular edition is slated for reuse. Hold off on buying books until you have attended each of your classes. Some instructors don’t even assign a book, and used copies or rentals are often available at a discount. Also, some students share or swap books with other students in their classes to save money.
- 2. Get out of your shell.
If you’re a shy or introverted student, you may dread the thought of introducing yourself to new people. But rest assured that there are things you can (and should) do—like leaving your dorm room door open when you’re in or joining a political club—to get yourself in the habit. Remember that the friendships you form in college can be life-changing and lifelong.
- 3. Expand your mind, not your waistline.
Everyone knows about the “Freshman 15,” weight that some students gain as a result of a hectic first year. But what your orientation leader may not tell you is that choosing a smaller meal plan is sometimes advisable. If you know that you won’t eat 17 meals per week on campus, opt for a 12-meal plan. Avoid 2 AM pizza runs as often as possible, and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Excessive junk food and booze will quickly drain both your wallet and your overall health.
- 4. Choose professors like your grades depend on it.
Sure, you’re smart enough to succeed in a course even if you despise the teacher, but why endure the extra stress if you don’t have to? Word of mouth is a great way to get the scoop on instructors. There are also Web sites like www.pickaprof.com and www.ratemyprofessors.com, where students can give and get advice on which battle-axe professors to avoid at all cost.
- 5. Fight traffic.
With thousands of students vying for the same 10 AM courses (and the same parking spaces) it’s no wonder that college campuses are so congested. Walk to class if you can, but if you must drive, give yourself plenty of time to avoid parking illegally and incurring the wrath of campus cadets. Also, both the bursar’s office and the financial aid office are notoriously busy spots on college campuses, especially during the first and last weeks of the term. If you have an issue that requires visiting either office, do it on a day when you have plenty of time to spare.