A First Year Student’s Guide to College

Why can’t the time period for back to school have more glamour, some more glitz? Everything can be cured with a little glitter. Glitter just isn’t for holidays, you know. It also doesn’t help that Billy Madison isn’t singing to us about going back to school, with our lunches packed up and our boots tied tight (I’m not ashamed that I know the lyrics). Whether we like it or not, it is time to get back on that academic grind.

But what if you are a freshman, new to the whole college experience? Well, being that I survived my first year of college, I’m pretty familiar with this song and dance. However, for the new froshies that are now on campus, there are quite a few things that people do not tell you for your first year in college:

Let us address the “Freshmen 15.” The whole concept, which everyone knows, is that the first year in college is when students are more prone to gain an extra 15 pounds; that, my new Monmouth loving newbies is NOT true. The “Freshmen 15” can happen during your sophomore, junior, and senior year. Just because you are a freshman, does not mean you gain an automatic 15 pounds. Unless you are eating insane amounts of mozzarella sticks (which will be spoken of later on) at 3:00 am, you probably won’t be gaining 15 pounds any time soon. Is it very easy to verge toward unhealthier food? Only if you surround yourself by it. So be smart with what you eat and drink (wink).

Taking time out to venture by yourself or with friends is a great way to get to know the campus. Do not be afraid to explore and discover things on your own. Getting involved is another great way to meet people and make friends. Take advantage of the involvement fair and sign up for as many things as you want. The fair has everything from A to Z. Thanks to the involvement fair, I got involved with so many different organizations, and it allowed me to expand my horizons on campus. Being a part of clubs is always going to give you something to do and something to look forward to doing.

Make friends your fan and your bedroom window. Dorm rooms are hot and stuffy, which will then cause you to get all hot and bothered. When you are not in the room, keep the fan on medium-low, and let the air circulate the room. At night, make sure the fan is on the same setting, but keep the window open ever so slightly. This is a good system until the heat dies down before fall begins to set in and the temperatures get cooler. Waking up cranky and in a pit of sweat does not exactly say, “top o’ the mornin’ to ya!” Avoid the sweat, stay cool.

For the first weeks of school, leave your doors open. Having your doors open for the first few weeks gives you an opportunity to meet not only everyone on your floor but also everyone in your building. Last year, everyone in my building (Hey, Pinewood Hall) would leave his or her doors open, and everyone would always pop in and say hello. I was able to meet so many people and make a lot of new friends.

Suit up… for the winter! I definitely underestimated the weather here at Monmouth University. So get ready to bundle up in layers and walk through spine chilling winds to get to your classes and to get food from the dining hall. Investing in a good pair of wellies (rain boots) will also help you as you truck along to your classes.

Let’s face it; you are going to succumb to the tasty fantastical deliciousness of Shadow’s food. More importantly, their mozzarella sticks. Beware of these delicious sticks of fried cheese because they will beckon to you during the late hours of the night. And around the time of finals, they will become your best friend and worst enemy. Shadow’s will be a major weakness, but it is too good to pass up. There is no escaping their tasty fried food grasp. So go ahead and have a mozzarella stick… or two… or three.

As a freshman, you are going to have to have a lot of patience. Being a freshman can and will get overwhelming at times, and you are going to want to speed things up as much as possible. But when times get tough, just relax and do not beat yourself up over stress.

The dining hall is where everyone (emphasis on the “everyone”) on campus comes to eat. You can either grab a take out box, or sit inside. That is, if you can find a seat. As the year progresses you will be able to figure out the times when the dining hall is not so busy, and the times when it is the busiest. Be prepared to say “hello” because you are going to see everyone you know.

Roommate situations are the luck of the draw. If you are friends with your roommate, or are civil with your roommate, then you got extremely lucky. Some students (it does not have to be just freshmen) have roommate troubles, and if you do, you can go to your RA and see what they say (they are the greatest) or you can head over to the residential life building (attached to Pinewood Hall) and you can see what they can do to fix it. Res-life is always there to help.

Finally, just soak it all in. I’m serious; absorb everything like you are Spongebob Square Pants (oh yes, I went there). Absorb every little thing from the grass, to the buildings, to hey, even the aberrant amount of squirrels you can find on campus (they are everywhere!). Monmouth University has a lot to offer, so take a deep breath (because breathing is important) and dive right in.