Ten Things I Wish I Knew Freshman Year

The transition from high school senior to college freshman can be daunting. I don't think I'm exaggerating one bit when I say that, for most of us, life does a complete 180. Before you start the process of moving from home to the dorms at IU, here are a few things to keep in mind for the next year of your life:

1. The Futon Isn't Necessary

I bought a small futon my freshman year and loved having it.  There's not a whole lot that you can do to make a dorm room feel like "home," so a lot of freshman opt for this small comfort.  I'll admit, it was great having the extra lounge space, but it was a total pain in the long run. You don't have nearly as many dorm furniture rearrangements because, hello, a futon takes up 1/4 of your dorm room.  And just ask your future self where, exactly, that futon will end up after freshman year. Hint: On Craigslist or wasting away somewhere in your parents basement. My advice is to skip the futon- chances are that half the other rooms on your floor will have them anyway. Leave the social soireé hosting up to them, because I promise cleaning up after your floormates gets old pretty fast.

2. Your Neighborhood Dorm Doesn't Define You

I cannot stress this enough. Just because you live in McNutt doesn't mean you're the coolest freshman on campus, and just because someone else lives in Forest doesn't mean they're unsociable. We all play the "Where ya from/ What's your major/ What dorm do you live in?" game freshman year. When you ask someone what dorm they live in, a lot of times you form a biased opinion of them based off of their answer.  And that's just horribly wrong. There are these long-standing stereotypes of the people that live in each neighborhood, and I want you all to know that they aren't usually true. Take the time to get to know someone, rather than judge them on their neighborhood status. After freshman year, nobody cares where you lived.  They're all a bunch of cinder-block squares with little to no a/c anyway.

3. Mandatory Class is Mandatory for a Reason

This one seems like it'll be easy, in theory.  You've been waking up at 5:30 or 6:00 every morning since, like, forever.  College won't be different.  HAHA is all I have to say to that. It is a struggle, a STRUH-GLE to make it to a 9am. You will forever question how you ever made it to school on time everyday. Go. Get up, and go. I mean it, GO. Pay attention, participate, and for Pete's sake, take the notes- every single time.  Form the good habits early on while you can. It gets harder to change them as you go. You don't want to experience how easy it is to lower your GPA and how ridiculously hard it is to get it back to good.

4. Buy the Basketball Tickets

Every college has it's thing. And here, it's basketball. In my four years of attending Indiana University I have never, ever felt more a part of it all, more like a Hoosier, than when I'm at a basketball game. I didn't buy the season tickets my freshman year, but I did pick up a ticket to the game against Purdue. The energy that Assembly Hall contains during basketball season is, in my opinion, the heart of IU. When there are 17,472 students, alumni and little legacies all singing the fight song in unison... you'll catch your breath. Every. Single. Time.  It's one of those things you'll never understand until you experience it, and once you experience it you never forget it.

5. Attend the Student Involvement Fair

In your first few days at IU, you'll go through the Welcome Week shenanigans. You'll probably be bombarded by the events, chalking, fliers, and club organizers standing on the sidewalk trying to entice you with free pizza at their call out meeting. It can be a lot to take in. I was most involved in high school, and wanted to continue my involvement in college. I like staying busy, and I like being social.  One big fault of my freshman year was not attending the Student Involvement Fair. IU boasts a whopping 750 student-led clubs and organizations, and if you don't like any of them...you can create your own easily. There are a ridiculous amount of reasons why you should join one. For starters, you'll meet like-minded people who share your interest in something that you're passionate about. You might find out that there's something new you'd like to try. And let's not forget how great your involvement will look on your *~ReSumE~*. 

6. "Undecided" is Okay

Please, please, puhlease don't feel required to declare a major right away. If you don't know, then you don't know, and that's more than okay. A large percentage of students end up changing their major at some point in their undergraduate careers anyway!  Explore your options, delve into a few different kinds of classes your freshman year- you'll quickly learn what you enjoy and what you don't. Take your time, your degree isn't going anywhere without you.

7. Choosing Classes Can Be Easy

But only if you utilize your resources. Meet with your advisor early to go over your ideas and options for next semester. Not only are you required to meet with them to lift the advising hold, but it's a good idea to do it ASAP. If you put it off, you'll end up not getting in until after you're supposed to schedule for the next semester, which can completely throw off the perfect schedule you had planned. Get the most out of your advising appointments. Your advisors are there to help, and will if you come prepared with questions and thoughts.  When you do go in for your appointment, have some classes already picked out and in your shopping cart.  This is a good idea because then, when it comes time to hit "enroll" you won't be frantically searching for classes that are probably already full. This is not the one area you want to slack on. Treat scheduling classes like you would Black Friday- the earlier you get there, the better your chances are of getting exactly what you want.

8. There Are More Dining Options Than You Realize

I lived in Teter my freshman year, and stuck with good 'ol Wright Food Court for most of my meals. I'll tell you now, your neighborhood food court gets old quicker than whatever is decomposing in your dorm fridge. Venture out with your roommate or floormates to another neighborhood food court. I loved meeting by friends in Northwest at Foster's food court (R.I.P. Potato Ole's), and my floor would all go out to the traditional (all-you-can-eat!) dining hall at Reed once a month. I seriously suggest getting a waffle with ice cream at El Bistro, which is also in Reed. I do regret never trying the food at Collins, which I've always heard was great.  And last year a new dining hall opened in Forest, which everyone is still raving about. Swipe your meal points as many different places as you can freshman year, you'll miss the "crappy dorm food" sooner than you think.

9. It's Okay To NOT Go Greek

This one's mainly for girls, but guys pay attention too. It is absolutely 100% okay to not go greek your freshman year, or at all. I went through recruitment my freshman year and wanted to be in a house so badly, but ended up dropping because it just wasn't the right time for me.  I got an apartment, learned a lot about myself, and decided to accept my bid to my beloved chapter my sophomore year. (Shout out to my Alpha Gams!)  Freshman year can be a blur of new adventures, don't feel like wearing letters has to be one of them.  It's a serious commitment, and it's not for everyone. Don't feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing, because honestly, not everyone else is doing it. If you end up changing your mind sophomore year, you can still find the perfect chapter like I did.  

10. Everyone is Struggling Just as Much as You. Embrace It.

I've saved the most clichéd and truest tip for last. College is a four (or five) year trip that's really about discovering yourself.  There will ultimately be times when you feel like breaking down because you are seriously lost.  This happens to every single one of us, it always has and always will.  Take comfort in the fact that you aren't alone in your journey of constant struggle. Everyone has problems with things in life, and college happens to be the one place where we all struggle together. This is the most important social experience you'll probably ever have, so share the experiences with your peers as much as possible, good and bad. Laugh and cry together, go out together, stay in together- it doesn't matter what you do as long as you share it with others.  Because when it's time for everyone to leave, you'll understand that the struggle was never really in the paper-writing, passing k201 and finite, or waking up for that dreaded 8 am. Take it from me. The real struggle is leaving it all behind in what seems like the blink of an eye, so make the most of it.

Senior Speechin,

Em

About The Author
Emily AlfordClass of 2015. Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management major. Journalism certificate.

5th Year Senior at Indiana University. Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management major with a certificate in Journalism. Dog Owner. Sorority Member. Texas Intern. Social Media Afficionado.  People Watcher Extraordinaire. Dreamer & Doer. Hoosier Native, Small Town Girl. Friendly Face. :)