Live And Learn: 9 Harsh Realities About Freshman Year Of College

by Kristin Miller
Paramount Pictures

Your class schedule is set; you have your rooming assignment. Your car is packed up with extra-long twin bedding, matching notebooks and folders, plastic dishes, a shower caddy and the wardrobe you hope will help you stand out in a campus of thousands.

Freshman year has arrived.

While you’re caught up in the excitement of starting the next chapter of your life (as you should be), you’re also about to begin one of the most challenging years you’ll face.

Here are a few tough lessons you’ll learn along the way:

If you were popular in high school, you’re going to have to get over yourself in a big way.

One of the biggest wake-up calls you’re going to get in college is that there’s really no such thing as a “popular crowd.” If that’s how you used to define your self-worth in high school, you’re going to be in for a pretty big reality check.

It’s not all bad, though. You’ll come to realize college is less about being the big name on campus, and more about finding the small group or groups you really click with.

College is a fishbowl; choose your hookups wisely.

Know that guy on your floor who spends all week bragging about the girls he “banged” over the weekend? Yeah, he’ll do the same thing to you.

College is a great time to have some fun and find out what you want in a partner, but do so with a little discretion.

Saturday’s drunken hookup isn’t worth the embarrassment of everyone from your roomie to your RA knowing the details by Sunday morning.

Freshman year can screw up your GPA, permanently.

In between spending every spare moment with all your new dorm neighbors, rushing a sorority and trying to catch the eye of your hot senior TA, it gets hard to remember you’re at college to, you know, get an education.

It’s tempting to let your “easy” freshman classwork slide a little, but by the time first semester’s grades come out, you might have done more damage to your academic record than you realize.

My best tip? Show up to class -- that’s really half the battle.

You’ll try too hard.

My friends and I used to have an on-campus game called “spot the freshman.” Basically, we’d sit outside the campus coffee shop in our leggings and sweatshirts and watch the passersby.

Full face of makeup, perfect curls, tight jeans and cute sweater? That’s a freshman.

That game, in retrospect, was probably a little mean, especially considering we were a definite part of that crowd when we were freshmen ourselves.

Yeah, you’ll try too hard, but go for it! Before too long, you’ll realize the full glory of no one judging you for wearing sweats every day of the week, and join us in our upperclassman sloth.

BFFs don’t always make the best roomies.

Going away to a new city for college can be tough, and it’s tempting to buddy up to a bestie who’s going to the same school you are to help ease the transition.

You’ll find, though, that best friends don’t always make the best roommates.

Just because you love her free spirit and outgoing personality, doesn’t mean you’ll love the mess she leaves scattered around the room and friends she has over until 2 in the morning on a Tuesday.

Think long and hard about signing on to live with your bestie, and maybe take the random roommate instead. You never know, it might end up saving the friendship!

It’s hard — and I mean REALLY hard — not to put on a few pounds.

Dining hall food is going to become your main source of sustenance, and that means easily accessible pizza, fries, soda and sweets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Add that to late-night munchies with the girls and boozy parties every weekend, and it won’t be a huge secret why your jeans might be fitting a little tight after a couple months.

Give yourself a break with some fruits and veggies here and there; hit the campus gym, and if all else fails, bask in the true glory of being able to wear leggings all week.

College guys kind of suck.

Friends, I’d like to share with you a theory: It’s called the “Douche Phase” theory, and it dictates that from ages approximately 16 to 25, most guys are complete and total effing douche bags.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; there are some exceptions, and it doesn’t mean they’re bad people, but college guys fall smack in the middle of this magical time of man-childishness and commitment-phobia.

Date wisely, ditch the rose-colored glasses and be honest about what you will and won’t put up with in a relationship.

You’ll miss everything about home that used to annoy you.

Remember how your mom used to bug you about making sure the clothes were in the hamper so she could get them in the wash? Remember how annoying that was?

Yeah, you’re going to be tearing up a little thinking back on that as you shell out $1.50 for each wash and dry, fold all your own clothes and realize maybe you weren’t quite ready to be on your own after all.

There’s no rule saying it’s mandatory to drink.

This is one lesson I learned a little later in my college career, but it was an important one.

There’s always going to be another party. There’s always going to be another night in the same bar with the same people and the same hangover come Sunday morning.

Have some fun and make some memories, but always remember that your real friends are the ones who are still there when you’re sober, and don’t need a shot or two to have a good time.

Take care of yourself; stay in every once in a while, and don’t let the fear of missing out dictate all of your choices.