The first week of college is a wild time. It’s the beginning of new relationships, classes, and your adult life, and it’s kind of like standing on the outskirts of a hurricane.
My first week of college was rampant with adrenaline and introductions, laughter and stress—but there are some things you can do to make the most of that critical time. I am currently on my seventh week of college, and I learned there are a few things every college freshman should do during their first few days on campus.
1. Introduce yourself
This may seems like a silly point to make, but introducing yourself to everyone you meet is crucial to forming new relationships. Personally, I’m a huge introvert, so going up to someone new and doing the whole “Hi, what’s your name?” thing is terrifying for me. But you know what? I did it anyway, and I am so glad I did.
On the first week, everyone is scrambling to find new friend groups and niches, so don’t get pushed out into the fringes just because you’re afraid to introduce yourself. Other students will look like they have it all together, but if you talk to them, they will be very honest about the fact that they definitely do not. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone on campus, but take the time to learn people’s names, and ask them to remind you when you forget.
2. Make your dorm room feel like home
You don’t have to buy everything at Target to have a homey dorm room. Bring small things from home and put them in plain sight to have something familiar to wake up to in the morning. Hang up pictures, plug in your diffuser, and put your books on the shelves; don’t be afraid of this new space. An empty room looks lonely, so put your stuff everywhere and make it yours.
3. Talk about your expectations with your roommates
During my first week, every suite/quad was given a packet to fill out together about expectations and concerns for the following semester. This ranged from fridge space to overnight guests and everything in between. Even if your college doesn’t have a comparable policy in place, have a powwow with the people you are going to be living with for the next few months, and be honest. Ask your roommates about loud music, alcohol, and how thorough you expect your room to be kept clean, and remember to respect your roommates’ preferences too. If something makes you uncomfortable, now is the time to speak up before you are put in an awkward situation.
4. Attend every event you can
I’ve mentioned my introverted condition—but even if you are the shiest, most awkward person on Earth, go to the mixers. Go to the movie nights and ice cream sundae events and the new student socials. You will definitely get strong middle school dance vibes, but it’s worth it.
You’ll drink weird lemonade, eat lots of tortilla chips, and bond over the mutual awkwardness that everyone and their pet rock is feeling. You’ll meet people you’ll know to avoid in the future, and you’ll meet others who will gladly listen to you word-vomit about how much you miss your dog. You have to meet people, so start now.
5. Visit the registrar’s office and the health center
Make sure you take a visit to the registrar’s office and ask for an update on your student status. Figure out where exactly those dual and Advanced Placement credits went, and talk to someone about what that means for your major (if you’re declared). Be friendly when you introduce yourself, and go ahead and get those Verification of Enrollment papers signed for your scholarships while you’re at it. Additionally, go to the health center to check up on your health forms and make sure everyone is on the same page. You don’t want to find out that you have more paperwork to fill out during flu season.
6. Talk to your academic advisor
Make sure you and your advisor are a good fit for one another, and go over the requirements for your major (if you have one) and your interests (regardless). Talk through what classes you want to take, and decide how they will fit together over the next three to five years. Some classes are offered only in the fall or spring, professors go on sabbatical, and prerequisites are real, so make sure you have an idea of what you are getting into by talking to an insider.
7. Find a printer
If you don’t buy one yourself, you will need a printer during your first semester. Go to the library and meet your friendly neighborhood librarians who know the secrets of which computers boot up the fastest and which printers get jammed easily. When you’re frantically trying to print an essay 30 minutes before class, you will thank me for this one.
8. Discover the wonders of your closest convenience store
You may not be familiar with the closest convenience store to you, so go explore early in the semester and get lost before you’re on a time crunch. Take a friend and wander around, especially if your college is in an unfamiliar area with new kinds of food. Get comfortable finding a parking space and the cereal aisle, and do your best to uncover the secret back roads to use during holidays.
9. Figure out the little things
There are plenty of tiny things about student life that you don’t think about until you experience them. Take your roommate or a friend and try to decipher the mechanics of the laundry room. How many washers and dryers are available? Do they take cash? Where do you clean the lint screen? Also, use your super spy skills to crack the lock on your PO box. The first time is harder than you think. Most importantly, never go anywhere without your room key or your student ID. You really can’t do anything without them.
10. Chill out
Ultimately, your first week of college is just one of many weeks of college, and you will thank yourself if you’re not dead tired by the end. Remember to take some time to rest, even if that means snagging a blanket and hiding in an empty room to breathe or catch up on some Netflix. Recharge so you can greet the next day with excitement. Meeting new people is important, but so is retaining your sanity.