Essential Advice For Incoming College Freshmen

All across America, boat loads of high school seniors either just graduated or about to do so. Congrats, everyone! You've accomplished a ton, and that's awesome... but your life's journey isn't over yet. If you're university-bound in the fall, you're probably wondering what advice for incoming college freshmen current or former university students have to offer you — but hey, guess what? The good news is that, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, these pieces of advice are easier to find than ever.

Tapping this seemingly endless font of knowledge is probably what Redditor andywiggins had in mind when s/he posted a thread to AskReddit last night titled, “College students of Reddit, past or present, what are some things incoming freshmen should stop doing before they get to college?” I find the phrasing of this one particularly interesting; it seems geared towards breaking bad habits you may have developed during high school or dispelling preconceived notions about what higher education is. As is wont to happen, the thread kind of devolved over time into something more resembling, “College students of Reddit, past or present, what's your best advice for incoming freshmen before they get to college?” — but somewhat miraculously, almost all of the 4,000 comments (and counting) are actually legit words of wisdom.

As for my two cents? I'll keep it brief: Put in the effort to get as much out of it as you can, but make sure you take care of yourself while you're doing it. I realize that college isn't the best for everyone, but me? I had an amazing time: I learned loads, I made incredible friends, and I had a huge number of valuable experiences, both good and bad, that I wouldn't trade for the world. It's the time during which I really learned to be myself, and for that, I'll always be grateful. It's my hope for everyone else that you get as much out of the time as I did, even if your experiences are totally different.

The thread is still on a roll, so head on over to AskReddit to watch it unfold in real time — and in the meantime, check out 17 of my favorite points below:

1. College is a clean slate.

I think the most important thing to note here is that it goes both ways — if you were a rock star in high school, relying on your past achievements to get you by isn't going to cut it; but, if you're worried about some bad grades or a lack of extracurriculars during your high school years, the good news is you can turn things around. Regardless as to which situation you're in, though — or whether you're in a different one altogether — look at the clean slate that being a college freshman offers you as an opportunity to prove your mettle.

2. That goes for your social life, too.

For reals.

3. Don't slack off — no matter how “silly” you think that one class might be.

Not only does every class matter, but moreover, developing good study habits early is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Studying in college is an entirely different beast than studying in high school, so figuring out what does and doesn't work for you as soon as you can is essential.

On a similar note…

4. Get ready to work.

And yes, this includes actually going to class. Seriously, you guys. Besides, I've always firmly been of the belief that you get out of college what you put into it — which is even more important when you consider how flipping expensive it is these days. Do the work, and you'll learn tons. And that? Is awesome. Knowledge is power, you guys — even when it's just for the pleasure of learning something you didn't know before.

5. This:

I mean, if you're in a small seminar class, I wouldn't just up and leave with no warning or explanation — but if you're in a huge lecture, yeah, no need to raise your hand and ask. Just try not to trip on too many people as you make your way out of your row.

6. Temper your expectations.

Read this one as "don't get too hyped up" (since the original question was about things not to do). It's also worth noting that not only is everything not going to be perfect, but also that it's OK for everything not to perfect. College can be great, but it's not always going to magical land full of unicorns and rainbows.

7. Here's what to expect from your roommate:

Of course, there are also sub-varieties of roommates — but generally, they'll all fall under one of these three headings. Just, y'know… prepare yourself. Oh, and if you end up with the second type:

Yeah. That.

8. Develop your anti-hangover methods.

Nothing is going to either stop you from getting a hangover or cure it once you've got one — but there are some measures you can take to lessen their severity.

9. Don't be obnoxious.

This is excellent life advice in general, actually. Automatically assuming you're the smartest person in the room is the absolute best way to get everyone to hate you — even if you actually are the smartest person in the room.

10. Take care of yourself.

More good general life advice.

11. Don't expect your parents to deal with the hard stuff for you.

I'm always amazed when I hear stories of college students' parents trying to contest a grade or something for them. Your parents should absolutely not be talking to your professors for you. That's shit you need to deal with, so either A) buck up and learn how to do it, or B) if your parents insist on butting their nose in, tell them kindly but firmly to back the hell off and let you do it yourself.


Bingo. This also goes for cleaning up after yourself, by the way. If you haven't already started, now would be a good time to begin doing your own laundry.

12. Get organized.

Back in my day, we just used paper planners — but whether you're a “let me literally pencil it in” kind of person or whether digital methods work best for you, figure out how to organize yourself. Trust me. It'll make life so much easier in the long run, both in school and beyond.

13. Use protection.

Again, since the phrasing of this particular AskReddit question is, “What should we stop doing,” that means we should be reading this one as, “Stop raw doggin' it.” (Or, y'know, don't even start raw doggin' it in the first place). Most universities have places you can get free condoms. Use them.

14. Watch your drinks.

Good advice for any and all people, no matter what age you are or how you identify.. Also, keep an eye on your drink even after it's been poured. It's still incredibly messed up that we (the collective “we,” I mean) haven't managed to successfully teach people to, y'know, not drug and/or assault anyone else yet… so until we get there, being vigilant will help you maintain the power in any given situation.

15. All this:

While it's true that there's a lot college won't necessarily teach you about being an adult, it's still a good training ground if you bother to figure out both what you don't know, and how to make it something you do know.

16. And this:

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

17. And also this:

You'll probably have to explain this one a lot to members of older generations who haven't realized that times have changed since their days.

Now go forth. You've got this.

Images: Giphy (5)