Oh goodness. So, I went to UT Austin and I do indeed have some grand wisdom to hand down.
Where to begin:
- BACK EVERYTHING ON YOUR COMPUTER UP EVERYWHERE. Use Google Docs. Use flashdrives. The cloud or whatever. I literally once had my laptop blue screen of death crash the night before an essay was due and I had to start from scratch because I hadn’t saved it anywhere else. Holy crap please back up your files. I got 2 hours of sleep.
- Go out of your way to talk to people when you have a little down time. It can be intimidating to make friends in college, but being lonely on a huge campus sucks.
- Get your textbooks from Amazon. Used. Always used. And wait until you actually go to class the first day to buy them. You never know, but sometimes professors change the book list at the last moment. (I once bought over a hundred dollars of books I didn’t need. It sucked.)
- Ok, this one is REALLY important- learn the signs for alcohol poisoning, and if you are ever at a party and see someone who is not in good shape call a god damn ambulance.Even if you are underage and drunk as hell, CALL THEM. MANY college towns in the US have laws where you can not be arrested for illegal substance use if you have called for medical help. (This goes for any drug use really) This is a worst case thing here, but really, really, really, do not just assume someone can sleep off an overdose.
- If a professor says that you can’t finish the essay the night before: believe them.
- If you are struggling with a class, email your professor and see them during their office hours. Really. They know how to do well in their own class, and just having a face to put with your name goes a long way sometimes.
- Find the best cheap hole in the wall place within walking distance of where you sleep and treat yourself.
- Even if it seems tempting: Adderall and all nighters are really not the best way to prep for a test. (Spacing studying over several nights with juice / coffee breaks is far more effective at getting the info into long term memory)
- Try a new hobby! Hoola hooping, or D&D, or Fire Dancing, or Salsa dancing, or slam poetry. Find out what bizarre and interesting groups meet in campus and go to a few. I played Quidditch for a while and went to Electro concerts in the park. They also played free movies every week on one of the mall lawns. College is full of weird things: embrace them.
- No matter how bad your allergies are: NEVER take two Nyquil before a lecture. You will not stay awake. (I did this. Why, oh why did I do this?)
- One of the best ways to do a study guide, especially in your big lecture classes, is to create a Google Doc and share it with EVERYONE who is in that class (many colleges have course email lists set up.) Pop the blank study guide into the Google Doc and then EVERYONE (all 300 of you) can contribute to it. Collaborative learning at its best.
- Be prepared to have terrible group partners in group projects. Prepare for the worst. Prepare to do everything by yourself. (It is also ok to let the professor know if a group member is just unable or unwilling to help.)
- If your campus has an art collection on it/art shows/an art gallery: Go to it at least once. Its more fun than you would expect. You will also feel very mature and cultured and smart. You should feel this way. It is a good feeling.
- Find your favorite spot on campus. (Mine was the court yard of the old architecture building. It had a reflection pond and ivy on the walls with these purple flowers and it was always so quiet.) Go there to read or study or nap when the weather is nice.
- Buy about 4 times more pens than you think you need.
- Sporting events are optional. I never liked them, but some people really dig it.
- If you are on campus with a handheld video game system, there is a decent chance people will walk up and ask you about Jesus. (I had this happen to me MULTIPLE times while playing Pokemon.) Just…be aware of the possibility.
- FOOD CARTS ARE YOUR FRIEND. Find tasty food carts.
- On that note: do not forget to eat.
- When writing an essay, make sure you understand the formatting your professor wants. APA and MLA are not the same. Also, there are websites that will generate works cited in any format you need for free online. (I used easybib)
- There will be days when you feel overwhelmed and frustrated and you want to just give up and not do anything ever again because college is made of stress and vodka shots. It’s ok to feel this way. Take a small break. Take a walk. Go to your favorite spot on campus. Eat at your favorite food cart.
- Do not drink Four Loco. That shit will literally kill you. (Mixing energy drinks and alcohol, especially if you drink several of them increases your risk of alcohol poisoning because the caffeine will suppress your body’s natural defense to over-drinking: making you go to sleep.) Also they taste like luke warm donkey piss. Do not drink them.
- It’s ok to feel homesick. (I did) It’s ok to go home every other weekend for the first two semesters. (I did) It’s ok to call home multiple times a week (I did.) It’s ok to spend a friday night in pajamas, watching netflix, and doodling on your am in purple ink. (I did.)
This became a very long list. I apologize. I hope at least some of it is useful.