How to Survive Your Freshman Year
Mark Bernstein and Yadin Kaufmann
College Life Guide/Reference Trade Non-fiction
Sample stories/advice from
“How to Survive Your Freshman Year” ©
Some Words of Wisdom:
SMILE. IT HELPS.
Casey, Georgetown University, Senior
MY FRESHMAN YEAR WAS THE BEST YEAR of my life. Within two days of arriving I had made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I lived in a freshman dorm, which I recommend very highly. Everyone is going through the same things you are, and they’re all looking to make friends, so it makes for a tight-knit community. In the mixed dorms there are a lot of people who already have their friends, so they just aren’t as outgoing.
T.P, Stanford University, Senior
THINGS WON’T BE PERFECT AT THE BEGINNING. You’re going to have a couple of rough months when you’re trying to find your niche and remember why on earth you came to college. But give yourself time to integrate, to decide how you want to spend your time, who you want to spend your time with, and what kind of people will complement those objectives. You can drive yourself crazy trying to do everything with all sorts of people or you can try to figure out what makes you happy and who you’re comfortable with. But that won’t happen immediately. It takes at least a year, maybe a little longer.
Anonymous, University Of Virginia, Senior
DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME-THAT IS YOUR MOST VALUABLE COMMODITY IN LIFE. If what you’re doing no longer interests you, stop and re-evaluate it. Don’t pursue a degree that doesn’t matter to you any more. You don’t want to get halfway into your life doing something that you hate. Ultimately, your happiness is what counts.
Lindsay Petsch, Georgia State University, junior
CHECK UNDER YOUR ROOMMATE’S BED for old, moldy food. For two weeks our room completely stunk. People were avoiding my room and I was wondering, “What’s going on?” I never thought to look under my roommate’s bed. When I did I found an old can of salsa and moldy bread.
Sierra, Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, Junior
WHEN I WAS A SOPHOMORE, we had this great apartment on the top floor and we bought a huge inflatable pool about 15 feet in diameter. It had about 800 gallons of hot water from the shower. At night, in the winter, we had 101 degree water on the roof of the apartment complex, and about 20 people squeezed into this pool. I recommend that kind of ingenuity. It’s not something you’ll do in the real world. You don’t have that kind of time to invest in your revelry once you get out of college.
Tim Joyce, Georgetown University, Senior
GO NUTS ON THE DECORATING. BE TACKY, BE SHOCKING. This is the only time in your life you can get away with hanging a beer sign in your window or assembling a Buddah shrine in your bathroom. I actually had an Elvis shrine in my bathroom.
Wendy W., University Of Georgia, 1996
MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE I ever received about college food: If you find a hair in your food in the dining hall, just assume it’s yours and move on.
Matt Lackner, Princeton University, 2002
THE FRESHMAN 15 HAPPENS TO EVERYONE, and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. I guess I learned the hard way, but just because you can take as much as you want in a dining hall does not mean you should.
Amy, Princeton University, Freshman
NEVER WEAR ANYTHING FROM YOUR HIGH SCHOOL. I mean, we all went to high school, but you don’t have to advertise it.
J.T., University of Florida, 1990
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM and don’t know how to wash your own clothes, do not push the “help” button. This button is for security purposes only; for example, if you are attacked. No little helper will come and help you wash your clothes. Instead, you will sound the alarm and call the police.
Anonymous, University Of Pennsylvania, Senior
I FIND MYSELF BUYING UNDERWEAR instead of actually doing laundry. My advice is to wait until after the holidays and get the holiday packs of boxers for $1.99 at the Gap. I do that a lot. I have a lot of boxers with holly on them. And you can get a lot of free T-shirts from clubs.
Martin, Georgetown University, Sophomore
Studying: When, Why, How:
FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE IN YOUR CLASS RIGHT AWAY; student, T.A., professor, whomever. You’ll be hard-pressed to skip class. If there is no one in your class to love, then pick someone to hate and show up every day to make his or her life a living hell.
S.P., University Of Georgia, 1999
DON’T READ IN YOUR BED; you’ll fall asleep. I would read in my bed and I would, obviously, fall asleep. When you’re in your bed, that’s what you do. And then you start to associate reading with sleeping, so anytime you try to read anywhere, you fall asleep. So, don’t read in your bed.
Bethany, James Madison University, Senior
I HAD A PROFESSOR TELL ME ONE TIME that the workload in college is like shoveling snow. If you do a little bit every day, you’ll get by. If you wait until everything piles up, it becomes an impossible task.
Nicholas Bonawitz, University Of Rochester, 2001
IF YOU’RE QUESTIONING whether or not to go to a party, you better not go to that party, you know what I’m saying? Kids in college don’t have good judgment. That’s how you learn responsibility, learning how to listen to yourself. Some kids are like, “You think I should go to that party? Because I’ve got a midterm.” It’s like, “Keep your ass inside and study. You just answered your question.” Learning how to answer your own questions; that’s a big part of college.
Anonymous, Brown University, Sophomore