10 things, college edition

it’s that time of year (fall-ish) when loads of children, teens, undergrads, grads, teachers and professors return to school and so it’s fitting that i came across this post by maureen johnson. i forwarded it to sister E because, you see folks, the youngest mumford (E) has up and gone to college. and my parents? they’re leaving for a 3 week cruise. empty nest, what?

anyways, sister E asked me to give her my own set of advice. i’m no MJ (maureen johnson OR michael jackson), but i figured i could give the college giving advice the old college try. here’s my top 10 list of things i wish i’d known before entering my freshman year in college.

(1) freshman travel in packs. everywhere. to the dining halls. to orientation meetings. to class.

it’s because none of you really know your way around campus and so when one person is going “to the quad”, you all join in. it’s fine and it’s fun and you’ll meet a lot of people that way. but it also makes you stick out. get used to hearing “FRESHMAN” yelled at you. and just know that when you holler down the hall “i’m leaving in 5 minutes for dinner,” you’ll probably get 15 people joining you. it’s the freshman mentality. embrace it because it’s okay to walk around campus as one big glob of freshman nerves, though only for that first semester.

(2) you might think this is cute:

but your roommates, suite-mates, hall-mates will not. don’t bother hanging up the poster unless you’re okay with lots of ridicule. (it took me 2 months to take mine down.)

(3) in high school, you know everyone by their first and last name. and have known some of them since kindergarten. but in college, no one has a last name.

who knows why. you just only learn their first names. even if you have four jennifer’s on your hall, they’ll all go by some variation of their first name. jen, jenn. jenny. jennyo. jennifer.

(4) frozen yogurt is delicious after any meal.

yes, even breakfast. (maybe this is just at my school. maybe this is why i gained the freshman 15.)

(5) early morning classes are the opposite of fun.

especially since college night life starts late. when you’d normally be going to bed? yeah, in college, that’s when you’re getting ready to go out. so an 8am class? it hurts. but you’re bound to have them your first semester of college because the administration scheduled them for you. after that first semester, though, you get to pick your classes and times. tip: don’t schedule any classes before 10am, noon if you can.

(6) email becomes your lifeline to both the outside world (family, HS friends) and inside the college bubble.

before i went to college, i never checked email. i don’t think i even had an account.  (yes, that makes me sound old. i swear, i’m really not.) i remember on the campus tour, the guide said something about how wired JMU was and how he checked his email 6x a day. i thought that was a lot. and in the fall of 1999, it was. but then i arrived on campus and would check it 6x an hour. prepare yourself. or, perhaps your already are? you kids with your smart phones these days. however, don’t underestimate the power of checking your mailbox. and finding a handwritten letter. or a “you’ve got a package” slip.

(7) even the best of friends would fight if forced to live in a room the size of a china cabinet, so you and your roommate who never met before moving in together? there might be some tension as you learn things you did and didn’t want/need to know about each other in the way that only living in a teeny, tiny room forces you to do. so you better learn how to communicate.

or get a good set of earphones and crank up your music so loud, it drowns out the sound of her talking. or find a friend down the hall whose room you can crash in until the storm blows over.

(8) no matter how much you were craving independence, you will miss mom and dad more than you anticipated. (or, maybe that’s just my mom and dad).

and though you may not realize it, they gave you the proper tools you need to succeed. your tool box may be unorganized and disheveled right now, but they’re all in there. it’s up to you to figure out when the situation calls for a screwdriver (the tool or the OJ variety) or a hammer.

(9) there is no alarm clock or parent or teacher to keep after you to do your homework.

you have to figure out to organize your time and stay motivated. because when kelly and lisa come in giggling and wearing winter hats and parkas on an august afternoon, it’s going to be hard to resist joining in on the shenanigans. and remember, go talk to your teachers! when you’re stuck in a freshman class with the other 900 incoming freshman, your professor won’t know that the D on your paper is because you were confused rather than you decided to party instead. go to their office hours. show them you care.

(10) even though you’re the low man on the totem pole, HAVE FUN.

you’re about to meet some of the most amazing people. and create some of your fondest memories. and have some sad times. and be stressed about schoolwork. but you’re living and learning and becoming an adult. there’s no better way to do that than by living on your own. (while still funded by mom and dad.)

any tips i missed? anything to add?

2 thoughts on “10 things, college edition”

  1. Thanks A :)
    You are correct about 100% of the things :) and i really appreciate that you wrote this for me after my demand accidentally went out by text to my roommate instead of you…. whooops :) although i don’t know how since lizzy and abby aren’t close in my phone. I’ve been here for like 6 days and i’ve already seen lots of what you have described. thanks again
    and the picture is cute :)

    1. hey, it’s what big sisters are for. giving advice. and little sisters are supposed to take said advice without any questions. unless, of course, i’m the younger sister and J is the one giving advice. then i’m allowed to ask all the questions i want!!!!

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