People always told me high school was the best time of my life. I hated high school. If you’re attending college this semester, you might end up feeling it isn’t that great, but for me, it was totally awesome and definitely the best time of my life. I’ve been a postgrad for enough years now that I don’t even think I’m allowed to call myself a postgrad, and to be honest, I’m still living in a case of constant nostalgia, especially now that the new school year has once again rolled around. So if you’re a freshie headed into your first year at university, here’s my Top 10 list of what you have to make sure to do this semester to enjoy your college experience to the fullest.
1. Go to a frat party
Even if parties aren’t really your scene, it’s the ultimate college experience and something everyone should try once. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard some awful things about frat parties in the news – and, on a lighter note, even seen some funny reenactments of them in film. The truth can be on either end of the spectrum or, more likely, somewhere in-between. Be sure to attend with friends you trust, and even if Greek Life isn’t your scene, you’ll definitely have a good times dancing with hot guys (or their less hot bros) and doing keg stands. If your college doesn’t have Greek Life, some athletic teams have a similar vibe about them, or you can always travel to visit a friend at another college for the weekend.
2. Party at one of the “big” schools
Even if you’re going to a little tiny college, you should still attend a rage at a school famous for partying. I’m from Pennsylvania, so while my college only had about 2k students, I made sure to hit up Penn State for at least one party in my college career. It’s totally worth it to get the full, crazy college experience – even if it’s just for one weekend. Personally, I needed to attend a university that was a little more laid back, chill, and homey, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy a weekend rooting for an actual football team and going to a crazy big house party.
3. Join a club, organization, or team
Balancing your schoolwork and a new side of your social life is hard once you get to college, but you should definitely check out extracurricular activities! If you’re still adjusting to college life, consider a club that doesn’t have strict requirements so you can miss a meeting here or there. If you want to meet new people and make friends, or pledge a sorority if you can. If you didn’t make a sports team, look into intramurals your school has to offer.
4. Stay on campus
Even if you’re commuting, assuming your school has dorms, make sure to crash on campus with a friend now and again. The experience of staying up all night talking about nothing with your roomie – or struggling to get along with her – definitely can’t be missed.
5. Attend a school tradition
Whether it’s homecoming, the big game, or some obscure, weird thing that only happens at your school, be there for it. Even if it’s cheesy, it’ll make you feel immersed in your community. Like I said, I went to a small school, so no football games or tailgating for me, but we had a big event at the end of the first semester where we sang Christmas carols all night. I missed it senior year to hang out with a guy who is now my ex, and to this day I regret it.
6. Hang out with a professor
It happens way more often than you’d think. If your professor invites your class out to dinner, attend! To be honest, this actually never happened to me, but plenty of my friends loved going out to grab a beer and talk about class with their teachers. Maybe you won’t have this opportunity, but if you’re in a club or organization, the advisor or coach will likely be there for some downtime. I always loved hearing what our sorority advisor had to say about her own days in our chapter.
Back to Greek Life. Even if you’re not interested in it or can’t pledge until your second semester, attend some Recruitment Week events. I know plenty of women who entered college with an “I’m not like the other girls” mentality and ended up pledging my sorority or another on campus, where they made lifelong friends with other girls. If it’s not for you, then at least you’ll get to learn whether or not those stereotypes about Greek Life are true! (Hint: They usually aren’t.) If your school doesn’t offer Greek Life or if you’re interested in it but can’t find an organization for you, consider starting your own chapter!
8. Go to a sober school event
You’ll quickly realize college dances aren’t as much of a social stable as high school dances. But still, it’s worth a shot to see what the “sober” side of college socialization is like. That being said, if you’re sober, you can still have a great time in college, but either way, it’s worth it to see what activities your school offers. Like I said, there will be crappy dances (which I honestly still went to sometimes if I got drunk in my dorm first and there were no good parties that weekend) but also things like movie nights, open mic nights, performances, discussions, and more!
9. Befriend an upperclassman
I mean…hello. If you drink, how else are you going to get alcohol? Underage problems aside, getting to know someone a little older and wiser is so beneficial. They can teach you all about the dos and do nots of college life, might have a car on campus (if freshman aren’t allowed at your school), and can get you into all of the best parties since they already know everyone.
10. Make friends and have fun!
The people I was friends with in the first months of my freshman year didn’t end up becoming my besties. They were girls in my dorm that I got along with well enough, and they served their purpose as a safety net in those first few months. I like to think I did the same for them. While I remained friendly with them throughout college, it was attending my classes, participating in extracurricular activities, going to parties, and pledging a sorority that brought me my true friendships, all of which I formed by the end of my second semester and continued to develop as the years continued. Don’t be afraid to jump headfirst into a friendship with someone, but also don’t feel bad when you quickly realize you’re headed in separate directions. College is all about finding yourself, so do just that!
Obviously (arguably) studying is the most important part of college. But learning and growing requires personal study as well. So get out there and do you this first semester!