For my high school graduation present, my older (and graduated) sister crafted a little book for me called “Rachel’s Guide to College”. In it were tips like, “don’t eat pizza every night, or you’ll get fat,” and “make at least one buddy to sign you in when you skip class.” While it definitely gave me a few pointers for things to keep in mind as I made my way through my freshman year, I still went into my first weekend at college feeling underprepared and overwhelmed. There are a lot of things you wouldn’t even realize that you need to remember before making the big move.
- You can never pack too many groceries.
While my mom assured me that she had all my snacks already packed, I realized on move-in day that she had brought me about 6 containers of Easy Mac and a few snack-packs of raisins. Odds are you’re not going to know anybody the first few days you move in, so if dining hall isn’t everything you dreamed it would be or you can’t find anyone to eat with, you need some emergency snacks. Not to mention if your school doesn’t have a grocery store within walking distance, you’re going to want as many containers of your favorite brand of trail mix as possible.
- You can never have enough clothes.
Thinking that I was going to be living in a room the size of a walk-in closet itself, I only packed what I was wearing on a regular basis that summer. Consequently, I forgot about bringing all my jeans, sweatpants and sweatshirts, and didn’t realize that I actually had a plethora of extra drawer and closet space. You also probably won’t have the motivation to hike across campus and sit in a hot laundry room for an hour and a half quite as often as you did back at home. When in doubt, just bring it.
- Be aware of the kind of person you are, and pick your roommate wisely.
If you go random, kudos to you. You’re going to be living in a 15-by-19 foot room with this person for the next year, so set your boundaries quickly to avoid any future arguments. But if you’re relying solely on judging this person’s social media for a roommate search, be careful. I recommend meeting a Skype chat with this person before you agree to live with them, or better yet, set a date to hang out with them in person. Don’t assume that your roommate is going to be as goofy and carefree or as neat and study-oriented as you. And definitely don’t be afraid to switch roomies last second if it’s clear you two will have a long year ahead of you.
- Invest in rain boots (and an umbrella!)
I came into college with flip-flops, worn-out vans and fuzzy moccasins—none of which combine well with days where every other step you take is into a puddle. Don’t wait until you get to college to get rain boots. And if you can’t find an absolutely adorable designer pair, just get what whatever is available. When its thunderstorming and your first class is across campus, you’ll be more concerned about keeping your nice shoes sog-free than how attractive of a look it is.
- Come in with a social mindset.
If you have friends from high school coming to college with you, it can be easy to gravitate toward what’s familiar. I can’t stress how important it is to, on the first few weeks of your first year, introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Ask your hallmates to go to the recreation center or invite the person that is eating alone to join you. You may only end up remembering the names of a handful of these people, but if you’re a few weeks into your semester and you have no one to give you the notes you missed or play hangman with you on a boring day of class, things will get pretty lonely.
- Realize that you’re starting with a clean slate.
You may have been prom queen and the valedictorian of your high school, but news flash: in college, nobody cares who you were or what you did. From here on out, you have a clean slate to be whoever you want to be. It’s never too soon to start deciding how you want to appear to everyone else. Put the past behind you and decide how you want to be remembered.
Despite what we want you to think, even three years down the road we’ll be learning from our mistakes. The point is, as excited as you may be, you’ll never be fully prepared to move to college. Come as prepared as you can, but remember that favorite journal you left at home is just a few stamps from reaching you, and your parents are only a phone call away.