15 Tips to Get Through College Without a Bunch of Regrets

College freshman1. Some schools turn a blind eye to party-hard students who violate that pesky underage drinking law. Others take it really seriously. Don’t find out the hard way and get kicked out of school and in trouble with the cops. And seriously, there are way too many people walking around with regrets from something they did when they were totally wasted.

2. While we’re on the subject, resist any and every urge to cheat, even if it’s to give someone else the answers. Academic dishonesty is a major offense — right up there with underage drinking by some administrator’s standards — so read your student manual. An honest F is much less risky than a ripped off A.  

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3. Don’t sweat it if you don’t know what you want to do when you get to school. Better to take liberal arts classes until you’re sure than to change your major 12 times and take a bunch of unnecessary courses in the process. That’s an ugly waste of money.

4. You may be away from mom and dad’s home cooking but takeout makes you chunky. The Freshman 15 does have validity to it. Try to eat with some normalcy and semblance of healthiness, lest you be banished to elastic-waist sweatpants quicker than you can say mid-semester.

5. Hooking up is part of the college experience. In the event that some bumpin’ and grindin’ is about to go down, make sure it goes down in your room. Being on your own turf helps safeguard you against hidden cameras and unauthorized recording, ergo taking you out of the running for Video Hottie of the Week.

6. Listen to your intuition. If you get the sense that you shouldn’t be somewhere or that you should stay away from someone, follow that feeling — back to your room, to the library, anywhere but there. You wouldn’t believe the number of crime victims and crime committers who wish they’d done that very same thing.

7. Yeah, you can get a heads-up from someone in class and review your professor’s lecture notes online, but nothing takes the place of actually being there for yourself. Some classes will suck, you betcha, but everybody processes information differently and you need to be there to get yours for yourself, not through secondhand sources.

8. Have a well-rounded college experience. Go to parties. Join study groups. Be a part of social organizations and on-campus clubs. Pledge a frat or sorority. Be involved but make sure you don’t overload yourself with too many activities that compete with your main work — school.

9. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Period.

10. Wear a condom. Always. Keep them stashed in your room or your bookbag. Very few things kill your GPA like becoming a parent or finding out you have a sexually transmitted disease, especially since college campuses tend to be hotbeds for germs and outbreaks. Either one is not something you want to have to think about.

11. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to make a long distance relationship work with a boo back home or at another school. I don’t know many people who could make it work with someone off-campus while they were in school and of those who did, very few were glad they gave up their freedom to date other people.

12. Talk things out with your roommate early on. Even if you have siblings, it’s a whole new bag to share an itty bitty living space with a stranger. Draw boundaries and list expectations. You don’t need to be friends (though that would be nice) but you do need to figure out how to live together without wishing you could smother one another in your sleep.

13. Know your limitations. If you had to set four alarms to get up for high school, you’re probably not going to make it to an 8 a.m. class in college. Don’t even set yourself up like that. Schedule your classes for later in the day and take the pressure off yourself and your snooze button.

14. If you get refund checks from financial aid, apply them to your student loans. That leftover money is cash in hand that may finance pizza binges and sneaker shopping sprees now, but paying that money back 10 years from now is beyond suck-ish. Especially on an entry-level income.

15. Enjoy this time. Seriously. Four years seems like a long time, but it goes by fast and you’ll be a bona fide grown-up before you’re likely ready, so relish your time as a free-wheelin’ undergrad.

What tips do you have for a first-time college student?


Image via i5a/Flickr

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