So you’ve just graduated high school. Congratulations! When people ask you, “So what are you doing in the fall?” you know the answer. Maybe you’ve chosen a major already. You might even know who your roommate is. You’ve got the world by the tail. Right? Or maybe you’ve already started to lie awake at night wondering and worrying about life at college. What if you get homesick (you probably will) or have a hard time making friends (you probably won’t)? What if the work is too hard or the food is lousy or your professors are mean (they might be)?
We have just the thing to keep you worry-free and sleeping peacefully during this beautiful golden season between the end of high school and the beginning of college. The Freshman Survival Guide — written by Busted Halo’s former editor-in-chief, Bill McGarvey, and contributing editor Nora Bradbury-Haehl — was released last month and is already in its third printing. Numerous colleges have found it so helpful for making the transition to freshman year that they’ve already purchased copies for their entire incoming classes. Of course, you can buy The Freshman Survival Guide online and in your local bookstores (check the grads display table), but we’ve culled 10 tips from the book below that we think every high school grad should know:
- What do professors want from me?
College professors are different from high school teachers. They won’t nag you for homework and may not let you know if you’re failing. They might remind you when a paper is due or a test is coming up or they might not. Check your syllabus and take responsibility. Oh, and Dr. Roberts won’t appreciate it if you accidentally call her Mrs. Roberts (for real). pages 132, 142
- What if I’m homesick?
For some people it’s one day, for others a couple of weeks and for some — but not many — college student homesickness is a struggle their whole first semester. It won’t last forever. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and believe it or not you should avoid going home if you can. Keep busy and get involved on campus. The more you connect with your campus community, the less you’ll be pining for the people back home. page 44
- Creepy people to avoid on Friday night
From the socially awkward to the downright dangerous, the creeps come out on campus. Be smart not scared. Don’t go out alone and don’t overdo it, especially early on. Soon you’ll know who is just odd and who you never want to end up alone with, but until you know the players keep your risk-taking to a minimum — yes, we mean drinking and drugs — and trust your gut. If you’re getting the creepy vibe from somebody, put some distance between you and them. page 66
- How do I do laundry?
You’ve got a little time; learn this skill before you go. If you don’t, at least remember to separate lights from darks. page 227
- I’m getting a lot of pressure about religion.
Don’t let anyone else tell you what you have to believe or not believe. There will be people on campus who think you’re a fool for believing in God or not believing in God — for practicing your faith or not practicing theirs. You’ll encounter new ideas at college but avoid sudden shifts in your spirituality and be especially wary of anyone who has a practiced series of questions that leave you questioning your tradition, or who tries to separate you from friends or family and surround you with only other “believers”. page 55
- My roommate is weird.
You can probably deal, but you may need to ditch. Even if your roommate is messy, noisy or inconsiderate you might be able to learn to live with her/him. If they are dealing drugs out of your room or refuse to respect your privacy, property or person, talk to your RA. page 25
- How/where can I meet people?
You’re on a campus full of other people going through the same stuff you are. Join a club or activity, start a study group and learn to introduce yourself, almost everyone is as anxious as you are to make some connections and find some people they have something in common with. page 6
- How do I deal with differences (race, religion, sexuality, social class, etc.)?
Good manners and the golden rule (treat others the way you would like to be treated) will go a long way. Take opportunities to encounter people who are different; don’t just settle for all the same kinds of friends you’ve always had. If you haven’t encountered much diversity before, remember racist, sexist or classist jokes may have seemed funny back home but will just reveal your small-mindedness to people you’re just meeting. pages 24, 46
- Can’t stop procrastinating?
This one’s a killer and can derail your college career in one semester flat. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation dramatically reduces your ability to make yourself do things you don’t want to do. Learn to divide tasks into little chunks so they’re not overwhelming. pages 125, 128
- Go to class!
Seems obvious. Turns out, not so much. Are you sick? Tired? Hung over? Homesick? Go to class anyway. page104
Freshman Survival Guide: