What Every College Freshman Should Know

It’s crazy to think but 10 years ago this week, I started my freshman year of college.  Next month, I will be celebrating an undisclosed age birthday and as cliché as this sounds, the older you get the faster time seems to go by.

I went to James Madison University for undergrad and some of the most amazing moments of my life so far happened in that small piece of paradise off of exit 245 on I-81 that is Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Don’t believe me, check out this:   http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/21/living/west-virginia-party-school/index.html

Everyone says it; college will be the best four to five years of your life (shout out to my super seniors – keep on keeping from graduating).  What they don’t tell you is the unbelievable emotional roller coaster it becomes (yes guys, you also have emotions.  See: the feeling you get when the girl you gave your digits to texts you back or when your bromance brings over your favorite beer – I love you man!).

Nevertheless, no book, no tour, no conversation with your parents will fully prepare you for your freshman year.  It’s not going to be all puppies and candy but it’s definitely going to be amazing.

When I walked into my dorm room for the first time my freshman year, there were 8 complete strangers in the room.  That would be my roommate and I am pretty sure his entire immediate family.  That’s right, they were one shy of fielding a baseball team.

Did I know what I was about to get myself into? Oh hell no.  But the cool thing about it and for many of you too is that freshman year roommate became my best friend and now ten years later, I have been honored to become his best man (pending contract negotiations).

Being a college student twice, had taught college students, and mentored many I have compiled a list of what I think “Every college freshman should know.” Best of luck to all that will be starting the best ride of your life in the next two weeks.  Make sure to hold on for dear life, it’s going to be a wild one!

1.)  You’re Going to Cry (a lot):  Girls, this will probably happen within the first 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days of your college career.  Sometimes, they will be tears of joy, sometimes sadness, and sadly sometimes from a broken heart.  Guys, whether you want to admit it or not, you will too.  It may not be right away or even in your first year but I guarantee it will happen.  It’s so hard, to say goodbye, to your bromance best friend.  Embrace crying.  I know that sounds weird but you wouldn’t be crying if you didn’t take a risk and if you don’t take risks, then you’re going to miss out on a lot of living.

2.)  Drink, Drank, Drunk:  Yes, it’s true.  A small percent of the population will never consume a drop of alcohol while in college.  There’s also a small percent of the population that will need to keep a running tally of drinks consumed on their arm so that they understand why they wake up in a bush, on the green, without pants.  Whether you like it or not, drinking is a part of the collegiate culture.  It’s very possible that you will consume alcohol for the first time in your life your freshman year and in large quantities.  Have the urge to pee every five minutes, can’t find your clutch as you’re holding it in your hand, yelling woo, and turning to the cute girl next to you and constantly introducing yourself?  Well guess what, you’re probably drunk.  Welcome to college.  Whether you choose to drink is your choice and your choice only.  If you do, make sure your phone is always fully charged, you’re with at least one other person you know & trust, and never take a drink from someone you don’t know or what’s in it.

3.)  You’re Going to Hug the Porcelain Throne:  See number 2.  Whether from drinking, a stomach bug, your first chemistry exam, or food poisoning from the “all-you-can-eat-for-a-punch” dining hall – at some point during your freshman year, you are probably going to throw-up.  Remember to drink plenty of water afterwards to help stave off dehydration and eat bland foods once you start to feel better.  If you are hung-over, avoid acetaminophen-based painkillers as they can irritate both your liver and stomach.  If a friend or someone you know passes out from drinking and begins to throw up, make sure to lay them on their side and not let them lay on their back or stomach.  You can actually choke to death doing so.

4.)  You’re Going to Need a Hug:  College, especially your freshman year can be very tough.  Whether you are homesick, emotionally drained, physically exhausted, struggling to keep up with your academics or experiencing heartache please know that you are not alone.  Hugs are always free.  Everyone can use a hug from time-to-time and told that everything is going to be ok.  Never forget, everything will be ok in the end and if things are not ok, than it’s not the end.  Make sure to give out hugs for those that may need them because at some point so will you.     

5.)  There’s No Award for Most Sleep Deprived:  No I totally think you can take 15+ credit hours, play a club or varsity sport, be in a sorority/fraternity, participate in 7 different clubs/organizations, go out 3 times a week, and periodically sleep.  Look, I’ve been there too.  College is like a buffet of opportunities but that doesn’t mean you have to try everything all at once.  You have four plus years to do that and you’re going to need good health to do so.  Pace yourself, practice healthy behaviors, exercise, sleep and maybe even go to class from time-to-time.

6.)  You will Sleep Through Your 8am Class (and maybe 10am too):  Really what it comes down to is you’re going to sleep through some classes regardless if it’s 8am or 3p.  8am’s, however, suck.  There’s no getting around that.  However they are about as college as hot dogs at a baseball game.  Well guess what – you’re going to have some and probably sleep through a few too.  It always amazed me; I couldn’t hit a bull’s-eye with a dart if walked up to it and placed it myself.  But that alarm goes off and half asleep; from across the room I will hit that snooze button in one shot.   Here’s the thing, no one is going to check up on you if you miss a class or two.  I know, crazy right? So if you sleep through one or two, it’s really going to be ok.  Just don’t make a habit out of it.

7.)  Learn the Art of Napping – Anywhere:  While at JMU, I am pretty sure I napped everywhere.  In the airport lounge, UREC lobby, under my desk in the UPB office, on the Quad, in class, in a booth in D-hall, and standing up in Wilson Hall. Here is a piece of golden wisdom: napping is wonderful and will undoubtedly be the key to your success in college.  College is relentless… all of that partying, flirting, and the occasional class work can be exhausting.  To combat that, try to sneak in naps when you can.  Aim for 15-45 minutes in length as anything longer than that will get you into what’s called REM sleep.  And if you have to wake up during that you might as well be drunk because NOTHING will make sense to you for the first 10-15 minutes.

8.)  Be Excited to Learn:  Sure there are a lot of opportunities to do really cool stuff outside of hitting the books at college.  And when possible, you should take up those opportunities.  However, don’t lose sight on why you’re at school in the first place.  You may not see it now or even care at this point, but your knowledge and willingness to learn will create your future and drive your success.  Knowledge really is power and to be honest, intelligence is very sexy in my mind.  Never stop learning.

9.)  On a Warm Sunny Day Go to Your Quad/Green/Etc.:  There’s just something magical about warm sunny days and this location.  Guys, trust me on this.

10.)  There’s a Stranger in Your Bed: Freedom from parents, hormones, alcohol, and a plethora of sexy people is the perfect storm for “Love at first night.”  Sex is a choice and a decision.  I repeat, sex is a choice and a decision.  It should never be demanded, expected, implied, peer-pressured, or done against your will.  For a variety of reasons, people choose to or not to have sex while in college.  Whatever your game plan is, stick to your guns (meaning morals), protect yourself, and be smart about things.  College campuses have some of the highest STD rates in the world so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you get into.

11.)                The Only Thing You Should Strive to be is You:  College is definitely a time of exploration, defining yourself, and learning what drives you.  Pop culture and society often implies that we should look and act a certain way to be considered “sexy”, “hip”, “cool”, and “popular.”  Well for starts, sexy starts from within.  Being “you” is sexy. Not trying to be someone else.  This world is filled with way too many people trying to look and act like everyone else.  Each one of us has individual qualities, quirkiness, and personality that are unique.  Embrace your uniqueness because that is your gift to this world.  Whether I am meeting you for the first time or I’ve known you my entire life you will see the same Corey — quirky, off the wall, and sincere.   I have never been accused of being normal and I’d like to keep it that way.  People remember and gravitate towards individuality not, conformity.  In your freshman year, the remainder of your college career, and the rest of your life find, embrace, and exemplify “You.”  Because that “You” is really something special.

(This is an actual photo I took in Bermuda in January)

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