More advice from a former college freshman

On Monday, our super summer intern Theresa shared what she wished she had known as a freshman. Today, she offers some advice.

I’m a fall orientation leader at my university, so I get a lot of opportunities to dole out advice to incoming freshmen. The trouble is, during those couple of days at orientation, most of the poor dears are so disoriented and overwhelmed that they hardly pay attention to the nuggets of wisdom we’re bombarding them with, and they’re too shell-shocked to ask us questions.

What sort of advice might be falling on temporarily deaf ears during those first few days? When you boil it down, the message is: Mommy’s not here, so get responsible, kid.

Learn how to do laundry 

Figure out how many clean shirts, socks, and pairs of underpants you have and how long they’ll last you, because when they run out, you’ll have to do laundry. You need to do laundry regularly. You won’t believe it until you run into that stinky kid, but not wearing clean clothes can get rancid fast, and in a cramped traditional dorm, your personal scent will waft down the halls the moment you open your door. (Trust me, I’ve smelled it, and then vomited a little in my mouth). Seriously, laundry practically does itself in our modern times: You just throw it in the machine with some detergent (which comes with a handy measuring cup) and push a button. In about an hour and a half you’ll be putting away clean clothes and will have gotten some homework done in the meantime.

Clean your room

            A clean room is a happy room. You’ll probably have a roommate with whom you’ll be sharing a rather small space. That space will only get smaller if you leave it cluttered and dirty, so spend some quality time with your roomie cleaning up every now and again. You’ll have to do it anyway to pass room inspections, so why not save yourself some really gross, hard work by picking up your pile of dirty laundry and finding the loaf of bread under it before it turns fuzzy and green and has demon alien babies all over your desk. No, seriously, the month-old milk that’s spoiling in your fridge will stink up your whole room and no amount of air fresheners will make that go away. (That fantastical claim that some room sprays “eliminate odor” is a lie; only eliminating the source of the odor eliminates the odor.)

Beware of parties

The one question incoming freshmen do ask involves partying and alcohol. My advice is don’t mess around if you’re underage, because getting caught will put a black spot on your responsibility and accountability for the rest of your life. You can indeed have a good time at college while staying sober. I should know: I do it on a regular basis. If you do drink, know their limits and don’t push them; always go out—and come back home—with a friend; don’t drink jungle juice or any other concoction you don’t know the contents of—that means don’t trust the person claiming to tell you the ingredients, no matter who they are—stick with pre-packaged beverages whose seals haven’t been broken or tampered with; never leave your drink unattended—if you’re not comfortable talking non-jokingly with a person about your constipation or diarrhea, you shouldn’t trust them with your drink; and finally, NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE.

            Honestly, college is a lot of fun, and as long as you’re responsible you’ll experience that fun. Just remember to bathe regularly, get plenty of sleep, and take care of yourself when you’re sick.

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