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A few tips for incoming freshmen

Your parents have said goodbye. Your dorm room is unpacked. You've waited for this moment for 18 years.

There's a lot to learn as you start your freshman year, so here are a few tips to get you started.

*College is not about beer pong. There are incredible resources available to you, so take advantage of them. Talk to your professors. Read the books, not just the SparkNotes. Tolstoy and Steinbeck were young once, too, and you just might find they have something interesting to say.

*Your friend's Adderall prescription is not a good procrastination tool. Start studying for the exam a few weeks ahead -- not the night before.

*Go to class. Sure, your professor doesn't take attendance. But your parents may be brown bagging their lunch or mortgaging their home for you to attend college. Don't waste their money -- or your future earnings -- by skipping.

Think of it this way. Take the cost of tuition, fees and room and board at the University at Buffalo. Now divide it by the number of hours you're actually in the classroom. That course you just skipped cost roughly $41 an hour.

*You can't live on ramen noodles alone.

*You will roam in packs of freshmen the first few weeks. Don't be afraid to break out on your own. Join clubs, play intramural sports, write for the student newspaper. You'll meet lifelong friends.

*It's four short years until the job hunt, so give yourself a headstart. Volunteer. Get the coffee and make copies just to get in the door. Doing internships now will give you the experience to land the best opportunities by senior year.

*Drinking until you black out is not a form of entertainment. You've got newfound freedom, and that means you're probably out there experimenting. If you're going to drink, do it in moderation. It's not funny that your friends passed out. It's a sign they put their bodies at serious risk. If someone gets sick, call for help.

*Hazing is just plain stupid.

*It's not worth sacrificing your self-respect for a drunken hookup that leads to little more than the Walk of Shame.

*You'll probably be offered a credit card. They might even give you a free cooler or keychain. Use the card wisely. It could be the most expensive tchotchke you've ever picked up for free.

*Take as many upper-level courses as you can. The fewer students in the class, the better.

*It's not the end of the world if your freshman roommate huddles in the dark playing World of Warcraft. You will meet other people.

*You didn't lay out hundreds of dollars for books just to return them for a quarter of the price at the end of the semester. Crack their bindings and fill them with notes.

*Get off campus. Your student I.D. is a golden pass. Use it for discounts at museums and cultural events like the Albright-Knox and the BPO.

*Watch what you post online. Pictures of spring break might seem cool now, but there's nothing cute about them when you're looking for a job.

*Don't leave your wet laundry in the washer. Someone else needs the machine.

*Your professors are on Facebook, too. Don't update your status in the middle of their lectures.

*Study abroad. It might be your only chance to spend four months exploring Paris or learning Italian in Rome.

*Call your parents every once in a while and thank them. They've sacrificed a lot to get you where you are.

In no time, you'll be getting mail about your 10-year college reunion and wondering how it all went by so fast. So soak up all the knowledge while you can.

email: djgee@buffnews.com