How to Survive Freshman Year

Okay, Frosh, here’s how it’s going to work. You are naïve, and the faster you accept that, the more people will like you.  

Published August 21, 2014 5:00 AM
4 min read


CollegEPacking-thOkay, Frosh, here’s how it’s going to work. You are naïve, and the faster you accept that, the more people will like you.


By Ariella Reidenberg

College-PackingOkay, Frosh, here’s how it’s going to work. You are naïve, and the faster you accept that, the more people will like you. It doesn’t matter if you were top of your class, captain of the team, or leader of the pack — now, you are starting fresh. Freshman year is a wonderful year because the rest of your class doesn’t know the embarrassing stuff you’ve done and vice versa. Everybody likes everybody during O-week (Orientation Week… start familiarizing yourself with abrevs right away).

I wish I could tell you exactly what your RA (Resident Advisor), OL (Orientation Leader), and suitemates/roommates will be like — but not knowing is part of the adventure. Mine were sporadically remarkable and fallible human beings… depending on the time of day. I unfortunately cannot tell you about the social scene or the classes because you will make these decisions on your own (and it varies depending on which college you attend). What I can tell you is what helped me achieve happiness at my school.

Here’s one surprising fact I learned: You do not have to drink to make friends in college.  Crazy, right? Not really. While most of the fun at my school happened at parties, not everyone there drank or was under any influence. Most of the people at parties will have a drink in their hand, but will not necessarily be drinking. In fact, your drunken friends will appreciate you way more if you take care of them. Being sober has its perks.

The summer before my freshman year, I familiarized myself with all sorts of drinking games. My advice is to learn the rules, but don’t pretend to be an expert. The upperclassmen will see right through that. However, if you simply know the rules, the other freshmen will be very impressed with you. Look up Kings, Flip Cup, Slap Cup, and Beer Pong when you get the chance.

Girls, upperclassmen boys may see you as easy prey. Knowing this, take extra precautions and travel in groups. You will not have a problem getting into parties, but please use the buddy system and be aware of your surroundings.

Boys, you will need the ladies if you want to party. Travel in groups of 3:1 (three girls to every guy in your group). A button-down shirt and jeans says, “I know how it works here, I’m not a newbie.”

The rest, I’m afraid, is too specific to your college for me to continue giving advice. However, I can now help you (not mom or dad) pack for this exciting adventure.


• Bathingsuit
• Comfy clothes for class (about three weeks worth of clothes, because let’s be honest, you aren’t going to do your laundry every week)
• Fancy outfits and shoes for formals and semi-formals. (Ladies, do not bring that gigantic, poofy prom dress. Boys, you will probably never need a tuxedo).
• Light jacket (winter coat, gloves, hat, boots, and scarf if you’re going to school in a cold climate. Be prepared for snowball fights.)
• Nice outfits for interviews
• One ridiculous outfit or costume (there will be a themed party and you will be unprepared)
• Work-out gear for the gym (although, you’ll probably only wear it once).


Room Décor
Your school probably sent you a list of measurements and a more important list of what you are not allowed to bring. Try to find a picture of your dorm room before packing and coordinate with your roommate about what you’re bringing. If you want peace, offer to bring something (i.e. “I’ll buy the fridge if you buy the printer”).
• Sheets (flannel if you’re in a cold climate), pillow, comforter, blanket (ask what size bed you’ll have)
• Laptop
• Cell phone
• Laptop and Cell phone chargers
• Ear buds
• Hangers
• Band-aids, cold medicine, Advil, and cough drops
• Laundry basket
• Laundry detergent
• Coffee mug
• Collapsible cubbies/crates for storage
• Bed/desk lamp (if desk lamp isn’t already provided)
• Drinking cups, dishes, and silverware for snacks (must be easy to wash by hand)
• Small fan
• Tissues
• Soap, shampoo, towels, razors
• Shower shoes (dorm bathrooms are nasty)
• Message board for your door (these can be incredibly fun)
• Poster putty, blue tape, or command strips for hanging up decorations/posters (check college website for limitations)
• Surge protector/power strip (check college website for limitations)
• Small refrigerator/microwave (check college website for limitations).


For Your Backpack
• Agenda/day-planner
• Binders and folders
• Calculator
• Loose-leaf paper
• Writing utensils.

If you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed, remember that your family is just a phone call or Skype conversation away. And if you are having a fantastic time at college, let your family know that. It’s always nice to stay in touch at least every other week. They will be worried about you, so give them a call every now and then. n

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