The Freshman 15: The Experiences That Define Every College Student's First Year

by Dylan Walker

No matter which school you attend, or how much you drink, freshman year is a definitive part of your college experience.

The following 15 realities are universal to the freshman journey, so graduates, let the nostalgia begin, and high schoolers, get ready for the highs and lows, wins and losses:

1. Orientation.

The Parent Ambassadors finally distracted your supervision, and you really want to have a crazy first night at a party or on a rooftop. In reality, you spend the night watching YouTube videos and maybe have dinner with someone from your high school. You get worried that it will be like this in the fall but fortunately, you're at least partially wrong.

2. Living with a roommate.

You added your future roommate on Facebook in July and prayed he or she wouldn't stab you in your sleep. In August, you saw with great relief that your roommate’s cleaning habits weren't so different from yours. Maybe you and your roomie become best friends or maybe, you sleep on a friend's couch most of the year. Still, chances are, you'll at least wave to each other in the halls when you're distant acquaintances senior year.

3. Cleaning up after yourself.

You finally mastered doing your own laundry and you reward yourself with pizza. However, it's a sobering moment when you realize the pizza box doesn't disappear automatically. Now, call Mom to thank her for cleaning all of your messes for 18 years.

4. The first party.

You've got the perfect outfit, but don't be disappointed when you wake up not in your crush's loving embrace but instead, with a headache and your roommate who’s ready to show you the videos that documented your drunken downfall.

5. Going (or not going) to class.

You were 10 minutes early the whole first week, but now, the teachers have stopped checking roll and your eyelids weigh about 10 pounds more in the morning than they did at 3 am when you were watching "Breaking Bad." You at least prepared for this laziness and got the number of the reliable girl in your hall, who is happy to send you her notes.

6. First all-nighter.

Maybe you shouldn't have missed lab last week, because now, you’re freaking out about the upcoming test for which you’re totally unprepared. Get this — it's not even multiple choice. Who knew that was even legal? Now it's 10 pm the night before your 9 am test and the coffee pot can't keep up with the Chem 101 curriculum. You show up to your test after a sleepless night, but at least you saw the sunrise.

7. You encounter the ghosts of September past.

Remember when everyone first moved in and you made friends everywhere? The lacrosse player from Kentucky you met in the elevator? Yeah, you have his number, but no one would know, as now, he passes by silently with his new group of friends. The super successful movie night that brought in 20 new faces is a relic of a past life, and you now have about three friends who you see every day. That sounds bleak, but it's for the best, as these close friends will be there for you even when you don't shower or shave all week.

8. Halloween.

Halloween in high school consisted of answering the door. Now, the kiddos are all asleep before you even don your funny-but-mostly-sexy costume and hit the town.

9. First visit home.

It’s probably either fall break or Thanksgiving when you finally get to see dear ole’ mom and dad and your long-lost high school friends again. Everyone’s so excited to see you (and you, them) and everyone [pretends] to LOVE college so far.

10. Bombing a test.

It finally happened. The Netflix account that you pay for finally cost you. You’ve calculated what you have to get on the final 15 times since getting tests back, and you asked around in class to make sure it wasn’t just you. The only thing you can do now is get your life together and study — and maybe even go to bed before midnight.

11. Joining a random club or student group.

Until this fall, you had never heard of Students Against Hippies In Trees, but now, you’re the treasurer and a shoo-in for vice president next semester.

12. Eating alone.

Yes, you coordinated lunches with your besties Tuesday through Friday, but on Mondays, the scheduling gods cursed you and now you have to fend for yourself. You could be a cliché and thinly veil your loneliness by checking Twitter the whole 30 minutes, or you could do some homework or reading. You did bomb a test, remember?

13. Exams.

Exams, despite stereotypical projections in the media, are different for everyone. Journalism majors will be perfecting a blog post while computer science students will be speaking languages you thought were zoo attractions (Python?!). Yes, you are nervous and stressed, but you will survive.

14. Spring Break.

You wanted to be Selena Gomez, with a flat stomach and that quirky-but-hot chest mole. You were going to be on top of the world. However, you are working your senior year job at home because your friends’ parents wanted them to come home instead of go crazy with you in Miami.

15. Saying goodbye.

Now that it’s May, you realize that you survived. Your GPA is at least a 3.0 and you even scored the number of a cutie who wants to meet up again in the fall. It’s been a crazy year, in that it wasn’t so crazy after all. You realize now that college is not a party or a prison, but a reality. You work, play and live there, like any other place. When you return next fall, it will be home.