Learning the social ropes of Freshman year

May 31, 2012

You're finally a college student - free, in charge of your own classes, sleeping schedule and even meals. So first thing's first - make sure you've got the classes you want and at least one that's outside your comfort zone. College is first and foremost about education. You're not paying all that money just to live in tiny dorms and eat pizza, after all.

But college is also the most social environment you're likely to ever live in. There are few boundaries, walls are thin and you'll be sharing a room from night one with a total stranger. It's an intoxicating mix of scary and exciting, but the social norms of college aren't always easy to adjust to. As you move into your first year, consider these tips for college social scenes.

1. Get to know your roommate. Your roommate is going to be your first friend, whether you guys stay close or grow to become bitter enemies. By nature of social physics, you two have been thrown together and so will have to stick together, probably through the first dining hall meal at least. While roommates can become great friends, always keep in mind not to take an isolationist road. College is a time to be open to new people, rather than settling in with a few.

2. Don't go home on weekends. If you've headed from L.A. to the mountains of Vermont, this probably won't be a problem - but for local students it can become a huge setback. The desire to head home on a Friday night is tempting, especially during your first year. Visiting with high school friends and relaxing in familiar surroundings is good for you from time to time, but it can also slow down the acclimation to your new social circle. Stay on campus and check out what's going on, or head into town or a nearby city with a few acquaintances. Nothing bonds people more quickly than adventure.

3. Keep yourself in check. Crazy parties aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they do happen, and sometimes you'll find you've wandered into one. No matter how hard your friends are partying, always keep in mind that you're living in an enclosed community where most everyone knows everyone else's business. Keep your head on straight, in other words.

College will be among the best years of your life, but not just because of classes (and almost certainly not because of tests). Freshman year is just your jumping off point, so have a blast and start making friends.

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