Looking for the best advice for college freshman starting their first year at school? Here are all the best tips & tricks for navigating college life - in and out of the classroom.
If you are as nervous about going to college as I was, you are probably looking up any and all advice you can find on how to survive your freshman year at college.
College is a completely different experience than high school. Moving into your dorm, living on your own, and navigating a huge campus can be really intimidating, but it is also so exciting!
I grew up as the oldest sister, so I didn’t have anyone to give me advice for my first year of college. While I can’t go back and give my younger self all the advice I wish I could hear, I can help all of you high school seniors going to college next year!
Here are all the best tips, tricks, and knowledge I have learned in college that I wish I knew before going into my freshman year.
This post is all about dorm must haves.
BEST ADVICE FOR COLLEGE FRESHMAN LIVING IN A DORM:
1. Make Sure You Buy Shower Shoes
Honestly, this shouldn't even be apart of the best advice for college freshman, this is a necessary, no questions asked item you need. If you have heard anything about living in a dorm room, you probably already know this one. But if not, there is no debating that you will definitely need a pair of shower shoes. Community bathrooms are the grossest thing ever, so the last thing you want to be doing is walking on those floors with bare feet. Buy a pair of shower shoes to prevent your feet from getting dirty while using the bathrooms in your dorm. (Also, these shoes are SO in right now. If you're not a big fan get these flip flops!
2. Plan A Cleaning Schedule
Because dorm rooms are so small, it is really easy for them to get messy really quickly. When you move in, plan a cleaning schedule with you and your roommates.
Designate specific tasks for you and your roommates to prevent little fights about who is cleaning what. I always cleaned my dorm room on Sunday to prepare me for the week ahead, but any day you are free to clean throughout the week works as long as you plan to do it ahead of time!
3. You Will Need A Dehumidifier
When I say dorm rooms are disgustingly humid, I’m talking about mirrors fogging up humid (yeah, not kidding). This was one thing I was totally not prepared for when I moved into my dorm room, so it was such an inconvenience when it happened. Everything in my room felt damp, and I always felt sick.
Buy a dehumidifier or DampRid to absorb all the excess moisture in your dorm room; this will make your room feel much more comfortable and prevent you from getting sick!
4. Look For Dorm Furniture On Facebook Marketplace
Before you go out and buy expensive new pieces of furniture or try and build custom pieces for your dorm, check Facebook Marketplace or your school’s local buy and sell page. At the end of the school year, freshmen usually start selling all the dorm furniture they won’t be using after moving out.
These are usually custom pieces meant to fit specifically in the dorm rooms to guarantee they will work in your dorm room the next year. Plus, buying secondhand furniture will save you tons of money!
5. Split Up The Cost Of Shared Items In Your Dorm With Your Roommates
Splitting up the cost of shared items like your vacuum or furniture will guarantee you don’t show up on move-in day with two of the same thing and lower the amount you and your roommates are spending on your dorm supplies and decor.
6. Plan To Move In At A Different Time Than Your Roommates
Move-in day is hectic and emotional enough. Trying to move in at the same time as your roommate is even harder. If there is time available, try and move in at a different time as your roommates; this will avoid crowded rooms, as well as give you one-on-one time with your family as they move you into college.
7. Pack Smart
While it is tempting to pack literally everything in your closet to bring to college, it is not the smartest way to pack. You will 100% be tight on storage space in your dorm, so you won’t have room for everything. Pack only what you need and pack efficiently.
I can tell you right now one thing you do not need is a million t-shirts. You will be gaining a ton of t-shirts from clubs and greek life your freshman year, so don’t bring too many!
8. Use The Storage Under Your Bed
Amazing and the best advice for college freshman: use the space you have... you're going to need it. Like I said, storage space is tight so use every bit of it as you can! Under the bed, storage is amazing storage space for things you want in your room but don’t use all the time. Use storage bags to keep your seasonal clothes, shoes, and other items clean and out of sight.
These storage bags are the ones I used freshman year, and they worked perfectly. Plus, they really help while you are moving in and out!
10. Become Friends With Your RA
I remember my roommate and I were the only ones to make an effort to get to know our RA, and she loved us so much because of it. Your RA is only a year older than you, so most of the time they want to be friends as well. Plus, making friends with your RA will keep you from getting in trouble!
11. Bring A Fan
Most dorms have a main AC cooling unit that can’t be adjusted in individual dorm rooms. This means if your AC isn’t on, there isn’t much you can do about it. My freshman year a girl’s mom called to complain that her daughter was cold in her dorm room, so my entire dorm had their AC shut off (It was literally the middle of August and as you can tell, I'm still holding a grudge over it haha).
Luckily we had a fan for our dorm, but I can’t imagine what we had done without it. The moral of the story- bring a fan!!
12. Bring An Air Mattress And Extra Blankets
One of the most fun parts of having friends that go to different colleges is visiting them! This means your friends from home will probably come to visit you at some point during college. No one wants to share a twin dorm bed, but you don’t want your friends sleeping on the floor either.
Buy a twin-sized air mattress to keep in your dorm for when friends come to visit. They will definitely appreciate not having to sleep on the floor when they stay with you!
13. Keep Your Expensive Items Safe
I will tell you right now, the last thing you want to do is lose your dorm key. Not only is it super inconvenient, but will also cost you a hefty amount of money at the end of the year. Make sure to buy items to keep your student ID, keys, and expensive items safe.
I even recommend a small safe to keep in your dorm room to prevent things from being stolen. It’s sad, but it happens. Better safe than sorry!
14. Bring Lots of Medicine
Living in a dorm, you are constantly surrounded by people so it is a guarantee that you will get sick at some point. Make sure to keep medicine around for the times you aren’t feeling well. Bring all the essentials such as Advil, Mucinex, Cough Drops, Emergen-C, and a first aid kit.
15. Communicate With Your Roommates
Communication is key when it comes to dorm living. Even a text here and there to let them know when you are coming home will prevent arguments and make your year go a lot smoother.
If something they are doing is bothering you, don’t be afraid to kindly talk to them about it. Talking through issues is a lot more effective than letting your frustrations pile up until you explode.
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS IN COLLEGE:
16. Join A Club Or Greek Life
Joining clubs and greek life is the easiest way to meet a ton of people and make genuine friends. These clubs are the best way to find people that are similar to you and share common interests. This is not only a great way to meet new friends, but it also will make your campus feel more like a home than a school.
17. Talk And Be Nice To Literally Everyone
It may sound cheesy, but seriously the easiest way to make friends in college is just to be nice. Even if this means sparking up a conversation in an elevator or asking someone sitting alone to eat with you. You never know who you are going to meet that could become your next best friend!
I remember a girl starting up a conversation in our dorm elevator and asking me to hang out the first day I moved in. She ended up living the floor below me, and all through freshman year, we would borrow each other’s clothes. It made me feel so good and included and still sticks with me to this day. You could be this person for someone!
18. Make Connections With People Before Going To School
It is such a good idea to try and make connections before you even move into college. Follow girls and guys on Instagram and even strike up a conversation through DMs. Making connections will make going to school for the first time feel a little less lonely if you are already seeing familiar faces around!
19. It Is NOT Weird To Reach Out To People First
I know it may feel a little weird to ask someone you’ve never met to hang out, but I promise it is not as weird as you think!! So many people feel lonely in college so reaching out first is not only completely normal, but will honestly be so appreciated!
Doing this could even mean just asking someone from your class group me to study with you. Making friends is honestly just a matter of trying your best!
20. You Shouldn't Have To Force A Friendship
While you do want to make an effort to make friends, you don’t want to try and force a friendship. If you have tried to reach out multiple times and the person either doesn’t answer or cancels plans, you don’t want to force it! There are so many people in college that want to be your friend so don’t waste time trying to be friends with someone who doesn’t put in the same amount of effort.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn because I wanted everyone to like me. But the truth is, you will find more genuine friends if you let the flaky people go and start trying to make friends that actually care.
21. It Is Completely Normal For Your Friends To Change
Losing friends in college was hard and something I was not prepared for. But, if I could give one piece of the best advice for college freshman it would be to know it is totally normal to have friends change.
At the beginning of my freshman year, I had a huge group of girlfriends for a few months. But as the year went on, I become more or less with certain people, and my group began to get smaller.
I definitely went through a period where I felt like I had no friends at school, and most people I have talked to said the exact same thing their freshman year. There are thousands of people in college, so meeting your lifelong best friends freshman year doesn't always happen! Just know a ton of other people feel the same way you do, so don't stop trying.
22. Don't Change Yourself For Other People
I hate saying this because it sounds so corny, but it really is the best advice for college freshman: make genuine friends. Don’t try and change yourself to fit in. A college campus is a big place with tons of students, so there are bound to be other people who are similar to you. This means there is no reason to change who you are to fit in.
23. Class Is A Great Way To Make Friends
While it may seem like the only way to make friends is by joining clubs or going to parties, class is actually a great place to meet people! Most of the time people in your classes have the same major as you, so there is a lot you can relate with them to! This is especially true in small niche classes designated to your major.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN CLASS:
24. Make At Least One Friend In Each Class
One piece of the best advice for college freshman is to make a friend in each of your classes. Having at least one person you can study with, talk to, and ask questions will make the class feel a lot less lonely.
I made a friend in one of my classes that ended up having the same major as me, meaning we had a ton of the same classes. We ended up helping each other all through college and actually became good friends!
25. Join Or Make A Class GroupMe
Usually, someone will make a group me and send out the link to the class email list but if not it is always a good idea to make one! Class GroupMe’s are actual lifesavers when it comes to getting free and fast help with your classes. These group messages will allow you to talk with your classmates about homework, create study groups, and sent out study sets. Before emailing your professor, shoot a text in GroupMe because 99% of the time, one of your classmates will know the answer.
26. Use A Planner
Ready for the #1 piece of advice I have for being successful in college? Use. A. Planner.
There is absolutely no way I could have kept all my assignments straight without using a planner in college. At the beginning of the year, I would write down every single one of my test dates and homework assignments. This not only kept me from missing deadlines but also allowed me to look at the week ahead before I made social plans for the week.
I wish I had my BSL college planner while I was in school last year because it has absolutely everything a college student could need to stay organized! I will most definitely be using it this coming school year!
27. Stay On Top Of Your Assignments
Time management is key to success in college. Make sure you stay on top of your assignments. Less procrastination = doing better on your assignments, less stress, and getting better grades.
28. Cheating Does More Harm Than Good In College
The best advice for college freshman wanting to do well and actually learn in college is to never try and cheat. You are paying thousands of dollars to learn, so cheating is basically just wasting your money.
Not to mention you can automatically fail classes or even lose scholarships if you are caught cheating. I promise a 75% on one test is better than an automatically failed class. Just don’t do it!
29. Check For Class Study Guides Online
Thousands of students have taken the same classes you are taking in college, so you have to think that there are pre-made study guides for your exact class already! Why make a whole new study set if there is already one made you can use?
Try typing in your class (BIO108, for example) and the exam (Exam 4) online and see what pops up. Most of the time, there are Quizlet sets you can use to study from!
30. Good Notes Are The Key To Success
When I say take good notes, I don't mean write down every single word that comes out of your professor’s mouth during a lecture. This is not only ineffective, but also pretty much impossible since most professors talk a million miles a minute.
Taking good notes means writing down key points and taking notes in a way that makes sense to you. If this means using colored pens and pictures- go for it! If you are ever having trouble getting all the material during a lecture, you can always record the lecture with your phone to listen to later or ask your professor to repeat something after class!
31. Don't Be Afraid To Reach Out To Your Professor/Know Their Office Hours
One thing you may not realize before your first day of classes is how big the classes are. I'm talking about 100 to 200 person classes (if you go to a bigger school). If you are anything like me, there is no way you are going to ask a question in front of the entire class (If you do, you are braver than most, and I am 100% impressed).
Since asking questions in big classes like this can be scary, take advantage of professors’ office hours. These are set times they have available for students to come and ask questions and get one-on-one help. Definitely take advantage of this, and never be afraid to reach out to your instructor for help. This goes for asking for extra credit/ grade boosts too!
32. Take Advantage Of Your Schools Free Tutoring
Most schools offer free tutoring classes like math, economics, science, and other major classes. Do your research and get free help if you need it!
33. Go To Review Sessions Before The Test
One big piece of the best advice for college freshman I can give is to go to your test review sessions! Usually, professors will hold a review session led by either them or a TA to go over topics on the exam and answer questions. Sometimes they even go over the exact questions that will be on the exam, so these are pretty much free points on the test. Study sessions are a great alternative to private tutoring that is not only free but specific to your class.
34. Take Advantage Of The Resources Your Tuition Pays For
Tuition is not cheap, so you want to get every single bit out of it that you can. The good news is that your tuition really does offer you a ton of resources. This includes everything from free transit to expensive computer programs such as photoshop that you can now download for free. Definitely become familiar with your schools’ resources and use them!
35. Actually Going To Class Is So Important
Some students may disagree with this but I am very adamant about advising freshmen to actually go to class. If you miss a class or two no worries. But skipping class twice a week will seriously impact your grade in the long run. Even if attendance isn’t mandatory I still recommend going to every class that you can to avoid missing important lecture material.
36. Back Up Your School Work
There is nothing worse than going to turn in an assignment just to realize it didn’t save on your computer. Make sure to back up all your work on a USB, Dropbox, or Google drive. I recommend using Google Docs as opposed to Microsoft Word because it automatically saves your work even if you lose connection or your computer dies/crashes.
Backing up all your school projects and papers is also a great way to save work for your portfolio after school! Employers love seeing work you have previously done, so if you have all your projects saved from college you already have work to show off.
37. You Will Need To Learn How To Manage Your Time
College is such an exciting time in your life, and with all the events going on, it can be hard to balance school and fun. While you should 100% have fun at school, you also need to learn how to manage your time. I know how hard it is to say no to a night out, but school always needs to come first. While missing a night with your friends totally sucks, the good news is there will be a thousand more times you can go out when you don’t have work to do. I promise a good grade on your exam will make pay off much more than one extra night at the bar with your friends.
Managing your time is a lot easier if you just plan in advance! Use the BSL planner to time block your day. If you know you have a fun party planned on Thursday, plan to get your work for the weekend done on Wednesday. Scheduling in advance will guarantee you get your work done but still have time for fun events you want to go to.
38. Check Your School Email Regularly
Your school email is the #1 way your professors will contact you about grades, due dates, and class cancelations, so you want to make sure you are checking it frequently! It may take you a little while to get used to checking your email, but you will quickly learn how important it is.
This is also how your school will contact you about fun campus events, football game tickets, and other important information!
39. Schedule Classes Back To Back
Another one of the best pieces of advice for college freshman. While it may be hard at first, scheduling your classes to close together will get your day done faster and keep you motivated to go. Doing this means you are already right on campus so walking to your next class isn’t as hard!
I know giving yourself breaks in between classes feels like a good idea but it actually just wastes time. I gave myself hour breaks in between classes the first semester my freshman year and ended up regretting it because I would just go back to my dorm, get in bed, and want to sleep through my next class. Just get through it and spend the rest of your day doing what you want!
But, don’t forget to give yourself time to eat or walk to your next class!
40. Schedule Classes When You Are Most Productive
If you had trouble waking up early in high school, you may want to schedule classes later in the day. If you are an early bird, an 8 am class may be just what you need! Whatever time you are most productive is when you should schedule your classes.
HELPFL TIPS AND TRICKS FROM A CURRENT COLLEGE STUDENT:
41. Your Grade Usually Goes Up At The End Of The Semester
I am always a little hesitant to say this because I don’t want it to sound like you can slack off on your work the entire year and expect your grade to shoot to an A by the end of the semester. But, I like telling incoming freshmen this because I know it would have eased my stress come midterms my freshman year. I was so stressed over my 89, only to realize my professors would curve grades and give extra credit at the end of the semester.
Every professor is different, so don’t count on this, but just know, for the most part, professors like to give opportunities to make student's grades higher. It makes them look better! And don’t be afraid to nicely reach out to your professors and ask if there is anything you can do to improve your grade because often they will help you!
42. Find Your Textbooks/ School Supplies Online
Here’s a little secret: textbooks and supply kits bought from the school are expensive. Universities know you need them for class, so they raise the prices at the campus bookstore. Coming from a college student who has made the mistake of paying full price before, always check Amazon or other bookstores for your textbooks and see if they are a better price. I would always find my textbooks online for $10-$50 cheaper.
You can also rent books on Amazon or through your bookstore. This saves a ton of money too because you probably won't need it after the class is done anyways. Another thing you can do to save money is to sell your books to kids that are younger or taking the class the next semester!
I also recommend putting together your own supply kits for classes if possible by ordering your supplies separately online. Doing this has saved me hundreds of dollars throughout the years.
43. Plan On Paying More Than You Think
One thing I was not expecting when I went to college was all the extra expenses I would have to pay that my tuition did not cover. These expenses include everything from books and supplies to computer programs for classes. I mean, who would have thought you would have to pay to do your homework?
These were things I could not have done school without and were absolutely mandatory to pay for. Try to budget a couple of hundred dollars at the beginning of each semester to cover these expenses (seriously this is THE best advice for college freshman).
44. Get A Part Time Job
College tuition is expensive, and waiting four years to start paying student loans is not the way to go. Get a part-time job as a student in college and start paying off your debt. Even if your parents pay for your schooling, you will still want money to go out to eat, drink with friends, and just to spend.
I promise you will have time for a job in college. Anyone saying you don’t have time for a part-time job in college is just lazy. If you want a part-time job but don’t have a car, look into jobs right on campus. You can even find jobs right in your dorm hall, which is convenient and easy.
45. Take Advantage Of Your Schools Free Transit
Many schools offer free transportation, so it is a great idea to look into what is offered and how to use it! My college campus was pretty big, so this was a great way to catch free rides and totally saved me on rainy days.
I would also look into other rideshare options your campus offers. At my school, they pretty much had free Ubers that so many people didn't know about it, so it's definitely something to check out.
46. Check Rate My Professor
The absolute best piece of advice for college freshman before registering for classes is to use this website:
This website allows you to look up the professor and class you will be taking and read student’s reviews. This can give you an idea of how hard the class is, what grade most students received if attendance is mandatory etc. Depending on the reviews, you can decide if the class is a good one to take or if you should pick a different instructor.
47. Designating A Study Place Outside Of Your Dorm Really Helps
Your dorm room should be a place for you to relax and sleep. Studying in your dorm room may be comfortable, it will also make you more likely to get distracted or give up on your work altogether.
Instead, designate a study space outside of your dorm room. This designated space can be your dorm’s study room, the library, or even your local Starbucks. Designating a study space will you give ample room to spread out your work and train your brain to study while you are there.
48. Plan All 4 Years Of Classes Ahead Of Time
Best advice for college freshman: plan all four years of your classes early on, that will guarantee that you graduate on time. I have heard horror stories about students not getting to walk on graduation because of one 3 credit class they forgot to take. Don’t let this be you!
49. Make Sure Your Register For Classes On Time/ Talk To Your Advisor
Registering for classes on time may seem like a silly thing to worry about, but it is actually so important. The later you register, the less likely you are to get into the classes you need to take and get the professor you want. Stay in touch with your advisor and communicate with them so you know what classes you need to be taking and when to register for them.
50. Visit The Career Center
Most college campuses have a career center or something similar that will help you create resumes, find jobs, and prepare you for work after college. It is so important to become familiar with this resource early on and take advantage of it! Students who get in touch early to start planning for work after school often have much more success finding jobs after school.
51. Find Internships Through Your School Early On
Best advice for college freshman: find internships through your school early. Internships give you hands-on experience in the field you are majoring in which is so important to employers! These internships look great on resumes but can sometimes be hard to find. Get in touch with your school’s career center or your advisor to find internships while you are in school. Big universities often have connections to huge companies that you may not be able to find on your own!
52. These Are A Few Surprising Things You May Not Have Thought To Bring To College
Did you think to bring costumes for Halloween? Because I sure hadn't before October of my freshman year. A few things you may not have thought to bring to college but may want to pack include:
- Ear Plugs
- Rain Boots/Umbrella
- Clear bag for game days
- Water Filter
And the rest of these unexpected things to bring to college!
53. Always Be On The Lookout For Scholarships... And Apply!
No one is ever opposed to help with their college tuition right? Always be on the lookout for scholarship opportunities and apply for them.
Scholarships are the best way to cut down on student debt, but a ton of easy scholarships are often not taken advantage of because people just don’t know about them! So many universities offer thousands of dollars in scholarships. Most of the time they are awarded for sports or grades, but you will most likely know if you are being offered a scholarship for one of those two ahead of time.
Applying for scholarships directly through your specific college is one of the best ways to earn some extra money because you are competing against fewer students (only within your school!), and fewer people tend to know about them.
In addition to these types of scholarships though, there are also plenty of scholarships offered by companies, professional organizations, non-profits, and other groups who are looking to help out students, so don’t forget about these!
54. It Is Okay For Your Major To Change
This is some of the best advice for college freshman! If you are going into college with an undecided major, just know that is totally okay! So many students go into college without any idea of what they want to do. Even the students who think they know what they want to major in end up changing it a lot of time.
55. A Ton Of Places Have Student Discounts
Take advantage of being a broke college student! A ton of places that you already shopping at such as Amazon, Nike, and a ton of restaurants offer student discounts. Always ask before checking out if they offer any discounts to students.
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