Going to college can be daunting. For most students, it’s their first real taste of independence as they’re suddenly in charge of managing their own schedule, money, and everything else they’re used to their parents taking care of. Here are a few things you should know how to do before starting your freshman year.
1. How to do your own laundry
When you get to college, your parents won’t be there to do your laundry, so make sure you know how to use the machines. It’s also good to find out if laundry is free, if you can use your student ID card to pay for it, or if you need to bring quarters.
2. How to budget your money
When you’re living on campus, you’ll be responsible for buying everything from food and groceries to clothes. Whether you’re paying for things with money you earn from working or with the money your parents put toward your meal plan, make sure to keep track of your purchases, and stay aware of how much you’re spending.
3. How to manage your time
As a college student, you’ll have a lot more free time on your hands, so it’s important to find a healthy balance between work and play. While studying and doing assignments is crucial, you must also give yourself time to do social activities like sporting events and participating in clubs.
4. How to maintain a healthy lifestyle
While having time to do activities you enjoy is great, you have to be careful not to abuse this freedom. Many students spend their free time in the dining halls, which contributes to the dreaded “Freshman 15.” Make sure you maintain healthy eating habits and take advantage of the campus gym or fitness center.
5. How to cook more than toast
This can also help prevent you from spending too much time in the dining hall. Although there are restaurants and cafeterias on campus, knowing how to cook is a very important skill. Try learning how to make pasta, eggs, and any of your other favorite foods in your dorm or apartment. [Editor’s note: check out our College Cooking videos on YouTube!]
6. How to network
One of the best parts of colleges is the many opportunities it can provide. If there’s a professor who’s working on an interesting project, ask if they have any internships or research posititions available. If you’re in a large city, look for a job or internship in a field you’d like to work in and start making connections.
7. How to make sleep a priority
Students usually have different schedules every day at college, so it’s very easy to push off sleep if you have a late night or a late start in the morning. But getting enough sleep is important to both your health and academic success. Try to maintain a steady sleep schedule, and aim for at least seven hours a night in order to be fully alert and ready for the day.
8. How to share a room
For many students, college is the first time they’re expected to share a room. Make sure you and your roommate(s) are able to effectively communicate with each other in order to avoid unnecessary fights. You also need to learn how to be aware of your belongings and how to respect the space of others.
9. How to clean up after yourself
Most dorms don’t come equipped with a cleaning service, so the responsibility of keeping your living space organized will fall on you and your roommates. Make sure you regularly clean your room, and if you have a suite-style room, clean the bathroom and/or common area too. Otherwise your living space will feel a lot smaller than it actually is, and you could actually be setting yourself up for unwanted smells and germs.
10. How to dress for various occasions
When you get to college, you’ll be expected to dress in a variety of ways. While you may be able to pull off shorts and a T-shirt around campus and during class, you’ll need to have a few professional outfits for internships and presentations. Learn which occasions call for formal wear, business casual, and casual clothes in order to look as put-together as possible.
Learn more about being a college kid in our Student Life section.