I was a big dummy and didn't really take any advice people tried to give me before I started college. Do not be a dummy like I was. Here are 15 things I wish I'd known before I started college, and probably would have known if I'd only listened.
1. You'll never regret staying in to study.
There are probably 12 parties you could go to every weekend, and you really only get one shot at each test. Not to sound like a mom (I'm about to sound like a mom), but the grades you make freshman year are the most important ones. Your friends might give you a hard time and yes, going to a party or whatever is more fun than staying in with a stack of textbooks and highlighters, but you'll feel so much better later. Trust me.
2. No one cares about how cool you look on campus.
If you're like me and are agonizing over every little decision like, "Backpack or bag?" and, "Should I pack more shorts or more dresses?", take comfort in the fact that there are so many people on your campus that no one will notice what kind of bag you use to carry your books, and more importantly, no one will care. Just do whatever is most comfortable. Looking cool is a myth.
3. The guys matured absolutely zero between high school and college.
If anything, they have regressed. And while women are smart enough to realize that responsibilities still exist, men don't catch up to that realization for at least five or six more years. Just takes time.
4. Oh, and also, every boy's dorm room smells like a dirty sock.
Do not go into their dorm rooms. Don't do it. Save yourself from the unkempt garbage pit that exists beneath their bed. They only do laundry twice a semester, when they take all their dirty shit home to mom. You do not want to catch them with piles of every single piece of dirty clothing they own on the floor. It's a terror.
5. Don't be scared to approach people and make friends.
Even if you're one of the lucky few who went to school with all of their high school BFFs, you're gonna want to expand your social circle at least a little bit. Otherwise, what's the point of going to college? If someone seems interesting or cool or whatever, just say hi! Try it. Most people will not spit on you or bite your arm off if you're friendly.
6. But you should also do things alone and spend a lot of time by yourself.
It's easier to make friends in college than maybe any other time of your life, but don't let all four (or five or seven) years go by without spending any serious quality time with yourself. Freshman year is especially crucial when it comes to #self #development. It will end up being one of the most important years of college. Spend some time soaking up all the newness by yourself.
7. Eat ice cream before dinner a couple times, just for kicks, but do not do that shit every day.
So the freshman 15 is real, but only if you don't pay any attention to what you're putting in your body every day. If you're mindful and don't shove gallons of ice cream and cereal and cafeteria pizza into your mouth at every available opportunity, you'll probably be just fine. I don't know why this is, but people tend to treat the cafeteria like it's the last meal they'll ever eat. It is most likely not your last meal. Have fun, but also, you know, don't go nuts.
8. If you don't already like coffee, you will soon.
Looking back on my life before college, I don't know how I got through four years of high school without caffeine. It seems impossible that there was ever a time in my life where coffee wasn't a daily ritual. Do yourself a huge favor and skip the sugary stuff and go straight to black coffee. It's more effective, and you won't feel sugar-crazy in biology class.
9. It sounds insane but really do sit in the first few front rows in each class.
There's something about knowing the professor can see you that makes you pay serious attention, which is great if you care at all about your grades. Sitting in the back also makes it seem so easy to slip out early or just not show up at all. Also, your professors can tell when you're interested in their class, and most take it personally. Ask questions! Look alive! Be engaged! It'll seriously help your grades in the end.
10. On that note, seriously, do not skip classes.
Every single adult is telling you this for a reason: because it's good advice. The times in college that I felt the most stressed were the times I realized I'd skipped class for some stupid reason (too "tired," too gross outside, whatever) and missed information that was a huge part of the next test. No amount of note copying or Facebook group trolling is going to make up for the info you could've gotten if you just went to class. Go. To. Class.
11. You will be so, so different by the end of the year.
Freshman year is like living in dog years. It will feel forever long, and when you look back at your first few weeks of classes, you'll wonder how you were ever so naive and weird and inexperienced. This is growing up! It's incredibly hard, but also it just sort of has to happen.
12. That boy from high school you're still dating? Forget about him.
I know it feels like ~true love~, but that was before you met all these fun new guys at college.
13. You might think you know how to study, but you actually have no idea how to study.
Memorizing facts from a little textbook filled with size-8 font is not the same as developing complex understandings of insane theories you've never even heard of. College tests count for so much more of your grade, so there's added pressure. And also they're just harder. You'll soon realize all your studying techniques are garbage, but that's OK, because you'll develop new ones.
14. Stalking all the people you hated in high school on Facebook is never going to make you feel better.
I know you desperately want them to see how successful you are and know that you are kicking ass and ~*~thriving~*~, but they're never going to call you on the phone and be like, "WOW, so glad to see you really are better than me!". Give up on getting the weird closure you'll never actually find, and focus on being the best student you can be. Have fun. Go to class. Have more fun. Eat ice cream sometimes. Make out a lot. It's a terrible and wonderful time of your life.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.