The College Freshman Bucket List
If you ask most incoming college students what they are looking forward to this fall, you’ll get a variety of answers that usually include moving away from home, having more freedom, and partying. I remember that feeling when I finally knew that I wouldn’t be subjected to my parents' rules any longer; it was both liberating and terrifying. Yes, there will be wild parties and you’ll probably end up with a few photos that should be removed from your Facebook account, but there are so many other things you should be experiencing as a college freshman. The first few months on campus really set the tone for your college life, and if you are unconscious for most of it, you’ll be missing out. To ensure you make good choices your freshman year, here’s a short bucket list to keep you on the right path.
1. Meet Someone New Every Day
The first few weeks of school are pretty chaotic and you’ll probably feel a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully, the first new person you meet (and like) will be your roommate, but don’t stop there. Sit next to someone new each day of class for the first week and introduce yourself. If you see someone eating alone in the cafeteria, invite him/her to join you for a meal. When you’re in your dorm room, keep the door open and get to know the other students on your floor. The best way to make some new friends is to put yourself out there.
2. Join a Club or Intramural Sport
Another great way to meet some new friends is through a shared interest. If you love sports, but don’t have the skills to make the college team, look into the available intramural activities. Many colleges offer flag football, volleyball, Quidditch (Harry Potter fans rejoice!) and a variety of other fun sports. There are also hundreds of campus clubs just waiting for you. Whether you are into drama, politics, music or academics, you’re sure to find something you’ll love. It’s also a great way to relax and get your mind off of your classes for a few hours each week.
3. Explore Your New Community
One of the biggest regrets I have about college is that I didn’t take the time to wander around the surrounding communities and test out the local flair. College towns are often eclectic, offering a wide variety of experiences. Depending on the type of community (urban, city, rural, etc.), you may be able to try anything from making your own wine, snow skiing or fishing for lobster. Don’t forget to sample the local restaurants, too. There are always some hidden gems in unexpected places.
4. Rush a Sorority or Fraternity
Okay, so this may not be for everyone, but Greek life does have its perks. You’ll make lifelong friends, learn the value of community service and, believe it or not, possibly increase your grade point average. Most campus chapters are very active on campus and in the community, so it’s a great way to network and make valuable connections for future employment or letters of recommendation, as well. Did I mention that sorority/fraternity members often have better dorm room accommodations? Some even have their own houses, so if you need a little more space, consider rushing!
5. Get Physical
The last thing you want to think about when you head to college is developing an exercise routine, but trust me, do it! It doesn’t take long for the food in the college cafeteria to start taking its toll. If you want to avoid the ‘Freshman 15’ or having to buy new clothes next spring, start adding a little activity to your daily routine. Instead of taking the shuttle to class, walk or ride a bike. Go for a quick jog in the evening or hit the gym for an hour. The exercise is not only good for your body, but also your mind.
6. Visit Your Professors
If you want to do well in college, get to know your professors. They are people just like you and many have a great sense of humor, not to mention a wealth of knowledge. Even if you are doing great in class, stop by during office hours and pick their brains. You might be surprised at what you can learn. Once I found that I shared outside interests with my professors, I was also more engaged inside the classroom, as well. To this day, I still communicate with many of them.
7. Explore Your Campus
Don’t spend all your time going to classes or your dorm room. Get out and see what your campus has to offer; wander the different floors of the library (this is how I found my favorite study corner!), walk through buildings where you don’t have any classes, and check out the resource offices. Shoot, I didn’t even realize my campus had an art gallery until my junior year, and it wasn’t until after I graduated that I found out they provided free resume services in the campus career center. I also wasted a bunch of money on Blue Books and pencils, not knowing that the student government office gave them out for free.
Unless you get out there and look around, you’ll never know what you are missing. There’s a new world waiting for you beyond your dorm room walls, but you have to take the time to get out and explore it. The next four years of your life will be some of the best, but don’t waste them with your head in your books; make some new friends, enjoy the local scene and sample what your college has to offer.