Freshman Year

A new school year is almost upon us, and with that another batch of young, relatively innocent people embarking on their own for the first time in their lives (“on their own” being a relative term, as most are still on mommy and daddy’s dole) and embarking on the great adventure that is college. However, every single one of them is unprepared for the experience ahead. Sure, they’ve read some sort of university-sanctioned guide to college, and they’ve seen movies starring Kal Penn and Justin Long which glamorize the parties. But neither of those sources will tell you the truly important things you need to know. That’s where your wise, knowledgeable, experienced, extremely good-looking and humble guide comes in.

Now I know some of you are asking “So what can Krisko tell me about my freshman year that I haven’t already learned from books and movies?” First, if you’re asking that aloud I hope there’s nobody around you, or else they might think you’ve gone fruit loops (or perhaps fruity pebbles… some sort of multi-colored, cartoonish breakfast cereal is what I’m getting at). Second, I can tell you plenty. Such as:

1)      Live in the dorms.

I know they seem expensive and cramped and riddled with STDs. And they are all these things. But they are an integral part of the college experience. Dorms will likely be your first time cohabitating with a non-relative, and you will spend an alarming amount of time with this person. Your freshman year is a constant obstacle course of alternating your schedules, setting up rules for when your roommate brings home a drunken hookup, and practicing relaxation techniques to prevent roommate-on-roommate murder. These are important life skills you’ll use later in life, because unless you decide to go full Unibomber, you’ll have to interact with other people on a regular basis. You’ll be able to hark back to a time when you survived nine months living with someone who played WOW until 5am and stored used Q-tips in the minifridge (true story), and realize you can make it through a conversation where the IT guy tells you to make sure your computer is on for the third time.

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A sock on the door means there’s a hookup, sleep somewhere else. A noose on the door also means sleep somewhere else, but for a very different reason.

In addition, you’ll meet other people going through the exact same shit you are, and you’ll develop a bond from it usually not found outside of soldiers entrenched in enemy territory, with a much better chance of sex. This is also the only time in your life where it’s acceptable to share a room the size of walk in closet with a person of the same gender and have it seem completely cool. That shit doesn’t fly at 33.

2)      Take freshman seminars.

Seriously, as many as humanly possible. Freshman seminars are fluff classes, usually just a credit or two. I know my university allowed two per semester, and only during your first year of college. These courses are not difficult, and they will be a wonderful way to pad your GPA for the inevitable difficult courses you’ll be taking junior year (especially for science majors – I spent my third year elbow deep in organic chemistry and calculus-based physics). In addition, you only take the ones you want to. I took classes on the colonization of Mars and the creation vs evolution “controversy”.

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Can you believe I got college credit for studying this shit?

Both were infinitely better than the gamut of necessary freshman courses thrown at you your first year. Finally, your freshman year’s work is only half spent on school. The other half is just acclimating yourself to college life. Filling your first year with difficult classes in order to avoid them later is a laudable task, and one I’ve never seen done without taking a hit to their GPA or their sanity.

3)       Don’t take 8am classes.

Seriously, don’t. It never ends well. And I know you’re thinking “wait, I started high school every day at 8am, so what’s the big deal?” The difference being you didn’t spend high school hanging out in a friend’s room drinking beer, discussing politics and hitting on girls way out of your league that don’t realize that fact just yet. Or maybe you did, in which case I was doing all the wrong things in high school. An average night in college ends about 3am, either by your choice or by your roommate’s choice. After that, the mornings are hell, especially since they don’t allow coffee makers in your dorm.

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Or meth labs.

 Class should begin at 10am at the earliest. Noon is preferable.

4)      Don’t give a shit how you look going to class.

The first month of class you’ll see those girls who were top of the food chain in high school showing up to class with perfect hair, coordinated outfits and makeup that obviously took half an hour to do. Watch them throughout the semester (and not just because this is your chance to see them before they put on the “freshman fifteen”). They go from looking like they’re going to a slutty job interview to shuffling into class with twigs in their hair and bunny slippers on their feet.

Nobody judges you for how you look, because everybody around you gives exactly as few shits as you do. The people who do care how you look are the same people that cared in high school, the difference being that now everybody has wised up to the fact that those people are pretentious assholes who should be shunned.

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SHUNNNNNNNN!

5)      Leave your high school boyfriend/girlfriend behind.

This sounds like a bad idea at first brush. You’ve developed a lasting relationship with this person over the years/months/days/hours, and you still have feelings for them. It’s not as simple as cutting it off, right? Actually, it is, and it’s going to be better for everybody if you do it before school starts. This is especially true if you’re going to separate schools, as relationships are tricky enough in college while trying to balance school, homework, and conflicting schedules. And if he/she is still finishing high school while you go off to college? No. Just no. There is no way to make it work, as the high schooler will not understand the struggles you’re going through in your new life.

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 I made this mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the girl I was with was great, and we were very compatible. It’s just that we were in two very different points in our lives, which is not an empty cliché. It ended with both of us being hurt, even though it ended relatively amicably and we had the best of intentions. The great thing is that since it ended amicably, she is now the only friend from high school that I still keep in touch with a decade later. Happy ending there, and not in the shady Asian massage parlor sense.

6)      Reinvent yourself.

This is the best thing about college. You get a fresh start. Start being the person you wanted to be in high school but hadn’t dared to be. Or maybe the person you were in high school is the person you want to be, in which case you’re deluded and should seek psychiatric help.

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I’m happy being the squirrel I’ve always been.

Make up a new nickname for yourself and pretend that everybody in high school always called you that. Start wearing ironic T-shirts that would have gotten your ass kicked in your hometown. Decide you speak with an accent. Just don’t start wearing those shoes with individual toes – high school, college, it doesn’t matter; nobody likes that guy.

The point is the person you decide to be in college is a very large part of who you will be after college. Figure out who you want to be and make it happen. Pick what you like about yourself and keep it. Find what you don’t like and leave it in the bedroom your parents will turn into a guest room/sex dungeon.

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We do unspeakable things on your Star Wars bedspread.

Follow my advice, and you can’t go wrong. Or, more accurately, you’ll go wrong in completely different ways than I did.

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~ by kriskodisko on August 25, 2013.

4 Responses to “Freshman Year”

  1. More advice: Balance partying and studying because it sucks having to dig your way out of the hole that was your fall freshman year’s GPA. They’re not joking when they say about a fourth of the freshmen are gone after first semester.

    Find a friend group that shares your interests. I managed to make friendships that have lasted long after college because we all just clicked really well. You don’t have to fake who you are to find friends, there’s already people on campus who share your crazy love of knife throwing and ballroom dancing. (Yes, that really is a combination.) You just have to get out there and socialize to find them.

    Don’t listen to Krisko’s 3am bedtime. I went to bed around 11 or 12 nearly every week night. 😛 Maybe I’m lame, but dammit I got sleep.

    Don’t eat ice cream after every meal just because the ice cream machine is there and you don’t have anyone to stop you. *did it*

    Go do stuff that your parents wouldn’t like. Just make sure you do it with a buddy. Be creative with that anyway you wish. You’ll have good stories later. Uh…don’t die though. Dying’s not cool.

    Have deep 4am conversations with people and learn how alike everyone really is, and how very different at the same time. Learn to expand your worldview to encompass things you didn’t think about before.

    Become buddy-buddy with your scheduling advisor if at all possible. Seriously, you need all the class scheduling help you can get, and sometimes they can tell you which professors to avoid. If you need MORE advice on which professors to avoid use websites like Rate My Professor. Bad professors mean bad grades, good professors mean good grades. If you hate your professor by the first exam then drop that class like it’s hot. It’s almost more worth it to take it again with a different professor than suffer through that class only to learn that you’re getting a D anyway just because they hate students. Exceptions are, of course, if that’s the only professor teaching the class or if it’s your senior thesis.

  2. I think dorm life is great for most. However, if you can’t manage your time or have severe ADD, it can mean flunking out.

    Good list!!

  3. Having also made the same mistake, I’m pretty sure that I warned the girl in #5 about the same…. 🙂

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