With about a month left until classes start, I know the rising freshman are getting more and more anxious. Hearing their questions and concerns reminds me of how I felt exactly the same way four years ago when I was a month away from starting college. Take it from someone who just graduated, these eleven things should not be stressing you out nearly as much as they are.
1) A Random Roommate – When I was a senior in high school that horror movie The Roommate had just come out. One of my friends who was a junior at the time looked at me at a grad party one day and was like “Oh my god, what if your roommate is like that girl in that new movie?!?!?!” which is pretty much how every freshman feels ever. Don’t worry!!! Just like you, your roommate will be someone who’s also nervous and anxious and probably pretty awesome. Some of my friends in college are still really good friends with their freshman roommate even though we’ve just graduated (I know, I’m super old). However, if you for some reason are not the biggest fan of your roommate, also not to worry! You will be in a dorm that houses hundreds of other people and down the hall or around the corner or upstairs there will be someone that you’re really good friends with; if things do ever get rough and you need a break you can easily go visit for a few hours until things cool off.
2) Your Schedule – I know that you’re really excited to start and really nervous about what classes you’re registered for but getting schedules set for the freshman classes takes colleges time. We will get things set before the first day of class; I promise! Because what classes are offered each year (each semester even) changes, the college needs time to figure out what rooms are open, what time slots are available, what professors are available during those time slots….The professors need time to figure out what the course material will be, to write the syllabus, to determine what textbooks they want to use for the class…My advice with this one is just be patient!
3) Buying Textbooks – It is really nerve-wracking to walk into your first day of classes without your textbooks but this is one of the many ways that college differs from high school. Most of the time in college your textbooks will not be used in class but, rather, you will be assigned readings to supplement your class material. Furthermore, most professors will not give you book lists until the first day of class (word of warning, those posted online will not always be accurate) so I’ve found its best to wait until the first week of class to do all of your book shopping anyway. As this is the case, professors don’t really expect you to have textbooks for the first week to ten days of school.
4) Doing Laundry – For those of you who have never done laundry before here’s a quick laundry 101:
- Put all of your clothes in the washing machine EXCEPT things that are delicate (think bras, dress shirts, etc.).
- Add one cap-full of laundry detergent and one cap-full of fabric softener.
- Set the wash to “cold” or “warm” and select either a “normal” or “heavy” wash cycle based on how dirty you think your clothes are.
- Most washing machines take about 30 – 40 minutes to run. When you’re moving your clothes from the washer to the dryer, set aside those that you’re worried about shrinking to air dry.
- Normally, I set my dryer to the “more dry” setting or “timed dry” and select the longest length of time and use warm (rather than hot or tumble dry which is no heat).
- Since there are only a small number of washers and dryers in each dorm building, follow dorm-laundry etiquette and move your clothes promptly from the washer to the dryer and then promptly from the dryer to your room.
5) Getting Lost on Campus – Your first couple days of classes will seem really overwhelming and all the professors and upperclassmen will have slang names for everywhere rather than using the actual, posted names of the buildings. Don’t worry; you’ll get there. After the first week, you’ll know the best way to get from class to your dorm without getting wet when it rains, the most convenient place to stop and grab a cup of coffee between your calc and philosophy classes (because, let’s be honest, you know you’ll need it), and the quietest place to study on campus without your friends stopping by and visiting every 20 min. If you do get lost, just stop someone and ask! At Nazareth, everyone is super friendly and helpful and you’ll feel super embarrassed but believe me, we’ve all been there and are more than willing to help!
6) Being Away from Home – For the first time ever, for most people, college is by far the longest you’ve ever not lived with your parents and for a lot of people that seems super terrifying. You will be so busy and have so much fun that you won’t ever want to go home. When my mom picked me up from college for winter break after my first semester, I cried when I said good-bye to my friends. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard to be pushed outside of your comfort zone and the first few weeks of college will be hard but once you get the hang of things, you’ll never want to leave. The people of Nazareth and the campus itself have become another family and another home for me.
7) Sharing a Bathroom – When I was a freshman in college, I shared a bathroom with about 30 other girls and have lived to tell the tale. Horror stories about dorm bathrooms abound but they’re about as untrue as The Roommate. The dorm bathrooms at Nazareth have about eight sinks, five toilets, and five showers each so even though there were thirty girls sharing the space we never really had an issue with not enough showers or not enough mirrors…unless it was Friday and Saturday night and we were all getting ready to go out in which case having fifteen of us in the bathroom at once was a lot of fun because we all did each others’ hair and makeup. Best advice here: wear flip-flops.
8) Making Friends – I came from a really small high school and a lot of the people I’d been friends with, I had been friends with since we were about five and I legitimately did not think I knew how to make friends as an adult. I could not have been more wrong in my perception of what it was like to make friends in college. I met people in my classes; I met people at work; I met people in my dorm; I met people in orchestra; I met people through my new friends. EVERYONE is in the same boat you are and just desperately wants to make friends. So, strike up a conversation with the girl who sits next to you in intro chem, introduce yourself to the people who live on your floor, go to the involvement fair and join a club that sounds interesting.
9) Workload – This is definitely one of the most frequent concerns prospective students express to me when I take them out on tour. College is a lot more challenging than high school, it’s true, but you also have a lot more time to devout to your studies in college. Most people only take five or six classes a week which means you’re only in class for about eighteen to twenty-four hours a week which translates to about four or five a day. Think of all the time you have to study and go to the gym, and hang out with friends, and join a club, and get a job! You will have a lot of work to do and a lot of the time you spend hanging out with your friends will be studying time but you will also have time to do everything else you ever dreamed about doing in college and probably a few things more.
10) Finding a Job – It’s no secret that college is expensive and I’ve worked all four years to help keep my student loans under control. At Nazareth, we have tons of really awesome student worker jobs available for both work study and non-work study students AND we pay both the same rate. I’ve been a student ambassador here since the spring semester of my freshman year and absolutely love it. On campus jobs are pretty easy to find and since they’re on campus jobs, your boss will be super understanding of your schedule and that some weeks when you have five tests you’re just going to need to take a few days off. It is really do-able to work an on campus job and still do really well in school.
11) Packing for Your Dorm – Of things on this list to be stressed about, this is definitely on the bottom. First, you will always forget something! When I moved in, I forgot to bring my pillow. And, if that is the case, you can always take a quick drive around to corner to Marshall’s, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or TJ Maxx to pick it up. Secondly, you will have a lot of friends within walking distance so if there’s something you need ASAP, chances are someone has it. Need a drying rack but didn’t pack one? Someone has one. Forgot your curling iron that you really only use once a week anyway? Ask to borrow your roommates. Colleges will publish a packing list or school supply list but these are only meant to be suggestions. You know yourself and your study habits way more than the college does; pack what you think you’ll need and then if it turns out you didn’t pack something that you can’t live without I’m sure your parents would love an excuse to drive up and see you. Still worried about what to pack? Here’s a list of the non-essential essentials that will help make your dorm your home away from home.
Starting college can be really intimidating and it is going to be completely outside your comfort zone for the first few weeks; just remember that everyone has those same apprehensions and fears that you do. Embrace the unknown and make your freshman year absolutely magical.
Still feeling a little nervous? Here are some things you can expect during orientation weekend at Nazareth College.