If it weren’t for my office’s intern, back to school season would have completely passed me by. It’s only been six years since I packed my bags and left for college, but I already look back on it nostalgically. Although it was one of the most amazing times of my life, there are, of course, plenty of things I wish I could tell my younger self.
- Bed Bath & Beyond is your friend…: On moving day my parents put me on a plane and waved goodbye. Ending up 2,000 miles from home without a car or sense of direction was pretty intimidating, but Pack & Hold helped me settle in. At our local store my mom and I went through and scanned everything I would need as if I was registering for my wedding. My lovely mother picked up the tab and we left the store without any items. Once in LA, I went to my designated pickup location where all of my purchases were bagged and waiting to go. Taking care of dorm shopping ahead of time definitely helps take some pressure off of moving day!
- …your roommate might not be: Obviously be friendly and respectful as soon as you get your roommate assignment, but don’t expect or force this person to be your best friend. In fact, it could even be better to have a roommate that is friendly, not necessarily your friend. That way you’ll have a quiet, neutral zone to come home to each night.
- Be outgoing like you’ve never been before: Your freshman year is one of the few times in life that you can talk to anyone and no one thinks it’s weird. Saying “Hi”, “What’s your name?” or “Where are you from?” without fear to everyone you meet is a sensational feeling. Even today I’m still fairly shy and I so wish I’d retained the confidence I had while introducing myself to total strangers that year. It’s magical because everyone’s doing it! It’s the best kind of peer pressure you can succumb to while in college. You never know who may end up being a lifelong friend, and even if they’re just pleasant company for an evening, you’ve lost nothing.
- Over-commit, then cut back: Similar to making friends with everyone, check out any opportunity that interests you. If you do it for a week, month, semester and it doesn’t bring you joy or enrich your life, let it go. I made the mistake of being choosy my freshman year and only tried to join two or three groups. When none panned out, I spent the rest of my freshman year playing video games and watching TV. After realizing I was 25% of the way through college and only had my report card to show for it, I kicked it into gear and found my groove sophomore year. The things I ended up getting involved in were available the year before, but I had let them slip by out of fear I would spread myself too thin. Obviously you shouldn’t tell an organization that asks for a serious commitment that you’re in it for the long-haul if you’re just testing the waters. Some groups have a trial period or you can ask current members about their personal experience.
- Take advantage of your school: College tuition might be reaching mind-boggling levels, but try to think of your school as a buffet–it’s up to you to get your money’s worth. Go to the student gym, maximize your meal plan, attend sporting events, plays, concerts, even your professor’s office hours. A professor laid out the math to show the cost per class session and I think it motivated everyone in the room to never skip class. I understand the temptation, especially if you get stuck with an 8 AM, but think of it like paying for a meal plan and skipping every meal (clearly my brain works in food metaphors). Also, there’s probably some community service on your college application, don’t drop it now that you’ve gotten in. Even if it is just a few times a year, take advantage of your school’s opportunities to give back to your new community.
(P.S. The capitalization in the title isn’t a typo, any fellow USC alums can appreciate the school’s ability to work “SC” into any word)