- Don’t take that 8:30 class.
You have the rest of your life to get up early and torture yourself. Sleep.
- It’s better to live in a safe place than a pretty place.
Rent ain’t cheap. But a safe place to live is always a better option than a complex with newer appliances and prettier carpeting. Check Yelp and ask around before you sign a lease. Read about my miserable experience at Sterling Central here.
- Always. Take. Free. T-shirts.
Need I say more? One day it could be a quilt or upcycled into a bag. If nothing else: a gym shirt.
- Rooming with your friends isn’t always the best idea.
The random roommate thing is scary, but it opens you to new experiences you may not have otherwise. From someone who has lived with friends and strangers: the random roommates are a gamble worth taking.
- Join something. Anything.
Knitting club. Volunteer with to work at the free events. UCF’s Pegasus Palooza (homecoming week!) is heavily run by volunteers. It goes along with the random roommate: you meet different people than you would in classes or at the gym. Plus: you get to be backstage at the concerts, comedians, and movie events. AND! You can get your hands on the coveted HC t-shirts.
- Your RA can’t go through your things.
Ohhhh the agony this could have prevented.
During a check, an RA performs a visual check. As in: walk in, make a 360, and leave. Health and safety checks. Random checks. They were all visual. The hamster my roommates and I bought freshman year hid beneath my bed. Various libations in dresser drawers. Candles (so taboo!) under piles of laundry.
- Hold strangers at arms length.
I was at a tailgate and ended up in conversation with a friend of a friend, Joey. Later that day, Joey texted my roommate and I about a house party and we decided to go for it. Fast forward half an hour and a car of five girls following his red Corvette: we pull up to an empty house. No cars, no lights, no party – but two big guys standing in the driveway, waiting. Cue the hot fog that creeps over your skin.
Moral of the story:
don’t meet random guys at tailgates and go to parties with them. Or get in cars with them. Or respond to their texts. Be careful.
- Explore your campus.
Some of my favorite spots at UCF were found accidentally. Upstairs at Millican Hall has the comfiest chairs overlooking the reflection pond. The Einstein’s inside the Education building is never as busy as the one by Engineering. The back of the Harris Engineering Corp. building has a pretty garden. The bookstore’s cafe sells bomb empanadas, stuffed pretzels, sandwiches. EXPLORE!
- Call your parents.
It makes everyone happy. Plus: if you check in first, the lesser the chance of them calling at an … inopportune time.
- Don’t withdraw from a class.
Yes, there will be times when it seems impossible. When you forgot to take a test, turn in a quiz, etc. But unless it is absolutely necessary, muscle up and finish. It’s wasted time and money that puts you behind on graduating. Which leads me to my next point…
- Loans are the devil.
Coming from a girl who paid for college by herself: this is a cautionary tale. The full $2,750 doesn’t seem that bad! It really doesn’t! In fact, it seems reasonable: you have to eat, pay rent, play, buy books, etc. But after many semesters, (some with more than one loan) you will graduate. Graduating college is it’s own unique, unsettling experience that is 10x worse when your loans enter grace.
Take what you need. Get a part time job to pay for the little things. Your 30 year old self will thank you.
- Pay a little more for something that will last.
This applies in so many ways: using rags instead of paper towels. Buy reusable plastic plates instead of paper. Use a dry erase board instead of writing notes to your roommates. Buy a few cork tiles and save yourself from covering up tack holes.
- Avoid the “3-in-1” laundry sheets.
My freshman year was a constant search for quarters to pay the hungry laundromat machines. My mom sent me off with the 3-in-1 sheets, where the sheet had your detergent and softener, then transitioned to being a dryer sheet for the drying cycle. Convenient? Yes. Effective? Sorta-kinda-not-really.
- Beware of laundromat/college dorm dryers.
Those bad boys get hot. Shrink your clothes 3 sizes hot. Your Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Urban Outfitters clothes are NOT safe. I’ve lost many shirts and had dresses turned into crop tops at the hands of the UCF dryers. Beware of metal on your jeans/shorts as well, those will buuurn you faster than Charlie Sheen does a like of coke. When in doubt, let those babies air dry.
- Use what’s available to you.
As a UCF student, you are eligible to use the gym, health center, counseling center, print labs, bus system, All Knight Study, get free scantrons and a million other things. I got bloodwork done at UCF for a fraction of the price, went to the dentist for a cleaning, x-rays & new sealant for under $200 & the optical saved me on contacts and new glasses. (Plus, the professors from the College of Optics & Photonics work there. They know their stuff.) Do a little searching and find what’s available at your college.
- Visit your friends.
Weekend road trips are the best.
- Use RateMyProfessor religiously.
If everyone else couldn’t understand their thick accent, you probably won’t either.
- Get a bike.
UCF takes 20-30 minutes to walk from end-to-end (Arena to Gym) and Florida is hotter than hell. Bikes make everything a little bit more bearable.
- Avoid meal plan.
Unless you have no other option OR you want to eat pizza for the rest of your college days.
- TAKE A MILLION PICTURES.
I was always that girl with her camera out bossing people around for photos. But I have thousands of photos for when I’m old, wrinkly, and can barely remember my college days.
What would you tell yourself as a college freshman?