Welcome, freshmen: my tips on how to not fail at doing college

olson hall

Stop buying clothes
You’re probably buying the wrong things. I spent so much money before I even stepped foot on campus, deciding what my style would be, and in actuality, I got it all wrong. When you get to campus you are exposed to so many cool styles and trends. College is a time to reinvent yourself. Don’t let your high school mind spend all your summer money before you get to school and start to really realize what you’re most comfortable wearing.

Start with only the basics for your room
You’re not going to use half of the random things you think you need. Be cute, of course, but don’t decorate all the way. Once again, wait until you get there before you start spending a lot of money on fun chairs and cool vases. You don’t really understand how small a dorm room is until you’ve arranged all the furniture in a way that’s comfortable, and realize it basically covers every inch of free floor. Odds are, it’ll end up being a lot smaller, with a lot less space for fun vases and picture frames than you expected. Set up the space first, then decide to go decoration shopping.

dorm room
Light up your own life
The fluorescent lights in most dorm rooms are miserable. They’re super bright and extremely obnoxious. Bring your own lamps and fun lights to the room. There is nothing more important than making your room feel like a home. After all, this is going to be where you’ll be living for the next year.
Keurig’s are not always the way
You think you’re saving money by only making one cup at a time, but let me tell you a story. Once upon the time there was a girl named me. I bought a pretty little turquoise Keurig for my room. One day I ran out of k-cups/ realized that k-cups didn’t taste as good as freshly brewed coffee. After spending a ridiculous amount on replenishing my k-cups way too often, I decided to just stop. Instead I spent entirely too much money on Starbucks. Keep with the old fashion coffee pots. If that’s too much work and coffee than go the electric kettle and French press route. Cheaper and better coffee. What more could you possibly want?

k cup
Command hooks are life
Seriously though. You will hang everything with these. Your cool baseball caps. Fun bulletin boards with fun pictures. Coffee mug displays. Your full body mirror that I promise needs command hooks under it, because the strips alone will not do. Ask my roommate, we’re in the second year of bad luck from our broken freshman year mirror. The point is, they’re a little pricey, but they’re well worth the cost.
What you can’t command, hot glue
Now, though I am a fan of the command hooks, I am not as much a fan of the command strips. I don’t think hot clue is technically allowed in most dorms, but it peels right off the wall so no one will even know. A small (and cheap) stick of glue can decorate my whole room. My roommate and I used it put pictures frames on the wall, to hang our whiteboard on our door, to hang our fun pinterest lights, you name it. If you need something to stick to a wall, use hot glue.
Learn to say no
Trust me I know the fear of missing out. I spent my whole first semester forcing my extremely introverted nature to be an extrovert. It exhausted me. Go out for sure. You’re going to meet so many great people, and you’ll get the opportunity to do so many cool things. But don’t forget to read for fun sometimes. Don’t forget to stay in some nights and watch a movie. Don’t overbook yourself and fall into an exhausting routine.

movieBe comfortable being naked
If you’re in an all-girls dorm, odds are at least 75% of your hall sleeps in nothing but a t-shirt and underwear. You will see a lot of butts crowding the sinks of the community bathrooms in the morning. Trust me, you’ll be half naked too within a few weeks. It’s a good way to live. My dorm had no air conditioning. Sports bras became the new shirts. My roommate, Lauren, and I bonded the first week of school by laying together half naked, by a fan, in front of an open refrigerator. You do what you have to do. You don’t judge, you just bond.

All-nighters don’t have to be a thing
I have been in college for two years, and have kept above average grades, and never once have I lost a whole night of sleep. You don’t have to. Just prioritize right. If you have thirty minutes between classes, resist your pinterest/Netflix/facebook/do absolutely nothing urge and try to get something done. Thirty minutes can go a long way believe it or not. Don’t put things off until mid-night, and don’t overbook yourself. You’ll earn your balance as you get into routine, but whatever you do, never forget the importance of sleep. If you waited until midnight, odds are you’ll fail any ways. Failing is always worse when you’re exhausted.

all nighter
Your roommate will not kill you
Just stop watching the movies. Really, stop. You may not know your roommate, but you’ll be fine. It’s fun to start a new experience with someone new. My roommate and I didn’t know each together before college, and we were still inseparable freshman year, because, quite frankly, neither of us had a clue what we were supposed to actually be doing with our Friday nights, but we enjoyed each other’s company. And if you and your roommate don’t hit it off, because let’s face it, we’re girls and sometimes we just don’t get along, it’s only nine months, and it’ll go faster than you even know. You’ll get over it.

roommateUpper classman aren’t scary
I would not have made it without my upper classmen. That’s just how it is. They know things. If I didn’t meet upper classmen I would still be using my rhetorical writers mind to fix my own logic-based computer because I would have no clue where the IT section was in the library. I would be failing school because I would have taken “DO NOT EVER TAKE THIS PROFESSOR IF YOU EVEN REMOTELY VALUE YOUR GPA” classes. I would have joined some pretty weird clubs. I would be in relationships with wrong guys. I would have a million choices that I regret. I would have missed multiple life changing opportunities and seminars. So yeah, I owe my upperclassmen friends a ton for helping my college experience be what it is. Upperclassmen aren’t scary. They don’t hate you. They would love to get lunch or coffee. They know things. That’s all there is to it. If you want the most out of your college experience, utilize the knowledge of those around you! They’ve been there, done that.

Welcome to this next chapter. You’re bound to get stressed, and tired, and pushed to a breaking point, but you’re also about to grow so much, meet so many cool people, and make the memories that your parents still to this day won’t shut up about.


When you get down, do what I always do: scream into a pillow, go for a drive where you scream taylor swift lyrics, and always remember what the wise John Green once said, “Every year, many, many stupid people graduate from college, and if they can do it so can you.”

Go get em tiger. 

One thought on “Welcome, freshmen: my tips on how to not fail at doing college

  1. This is such a great post! To go along with the start with only the basics for your room: I got obsessed with how I was going to decorate my room and having cute frames and things on my desk that I didn’t really have room for my books and notebooks on my desk which is really what your desk and space in college is for. While all the decorations are great, your room has to function too! Love this post

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