Walking into freshman year of college, there are countless unknowns and so many questions you have, whether they’re about classes, what to bring and what not to bring, how to make your dorm feel like home, and other daunting questions. ideamix’s summer interns – current college students from a variety of universities across the country – answer some of these questions, so you don’t just survive, but actually thrive, in your freshman year of college.
Whether you’re packing your life away into a few suitcases (trying desperately to keep them all under 50 pounds) or road tripping and packing your car to the brim, bringing the right things with you is crucial in getting your freshman year started on the right foot.
First things first – check the weather where your school is located. Getting a good feel of what each season is going to bring will leave you much more prepared. Editorial intern Elysee explains it’s super important to bring an umbrella – and while raincoats are also super helpful, umbrellas are much more practical. It will keep your backpack from getting soaked in the rain, and prevent your laptop from potential water damage.
Marketing intern Ashley says you should not overpack sweatshirts – they take up so much space and you end up wearing your favorites all the time anyway! Keeping your clothing choices practical is a lot harder than it seems – so make sure to pack what you feel comfortable in – and never bring too much of one item. On that note, definitely bring comfy shoes that you’re able to walk around in every day. Having a few of those really cute (but not so practical) shoes is always fun, but make sure you’re also bringing a couple of pairs of shoes that you can walk across campus with.
Colleges almost always have a packing essentials list that applies to your school, and you can normally find them on your school’s social media or on their website! Printing out a packing list or having one to reference on your phone will make your life so much easier.
Trying to make your dorm room feel like home can be really hard. Podcast intern Chris highlights that trying to make your side of the room feel like home can make the transition into college much smoother, and curating your space can help make you feel right at home. Another great way to make your space feel like home is by getting to know your neighbors! Coach strategy intern Gabriella says leaving your freshman dorm room open while in your room is such a great way to meet new people and become acquainted with the people in your hall!
If your freshman dorm room has AC, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. But for a lot of us with no AC in our dorms – especially in the hotter months of the year – having a fan is an absolute lifesaver. For social media intern Checka, bringing an ice machine, especially if there’s no ice maker in your building, can be a game-changer. And if you’re a student-athlete like Checka, cold water is a must!
Although appliances like a microwave and fridge aren’t necessary for your first-year dorm, social media intern Emily says purchasing a mini-fridge can be super helpful for accessibility purposes – and it’s another great way to keep your drinks cold during those hot months with no AC.
This dorm room essentials list is another great tool to have in staying prepared for move-in day!
Extracurriculars and Time Management
Finding your major and figuring out what classes you like, and what classes you don’t like, takes patience and time. Keeping your schedule hectic-free is vital to first-year success. Chris highlights the importance of calendars and planners – you can never have too many calendars to help keep your day-to-day work on track.
Managing classes and extracurriculars can be tough, and social media intern Samantha swears by the “No more than 7 rule” – meaning you have no more than 7 activities for the semester. It’s up to you to allocate which 7 activities will make up that schedule. For example, a good mix of activities might include 4 classes, 2 clubs, and 1 job. And while it’s important to prioritize your classes, several ideamix interns including social media intern Kaia, mention joining clubs that interest you is super beneficial for a variety of reasons. Whether meeting new friends, exploring your interests, or networking among classmates and professors, joining clubs is a great way to put yourself out there and explore!
Tips for Classes, and getting to know your Professors
First things first – don’t commit yourself to just one or two subjects of study your freshman year. Your first year is meant to be experimental, and Kaia explains taking a variety of classes in subjects you’ve never learned about can be a great way to explore your academic career, and you never know how one class could create a new subject for a possible major or minor.
First day of school jitters are very real – and one way to calm those nerves is to get to class early – especially during that first week of classes. Sitting in class and getting your things prepared before class begins is a great way to ease tension for yourself, and creating an environment where you feel prepared and comfortable can help ease stress.
Though sometimes professors can feel unapproachable – going to office hours is crucial, and intern Samantha mentions professors are there to help you, and going to them with questions you might have is expected and encouraged. Professors are a lot less scary than they seem, and no one expects you to know everything your freshman year!
Freshman year of college is such an exciting time of your life, but it comes with stress and daunting expectations. Transitioning from high school to college can be scary, but coming prepared and creating an environment where you can thrive, socially and academically, can ensure not only a great freshman year but also a great college experience!