Few freshmen have it all together. We all have a friend who never leaves the library and another who never leaves the bar, but how do you decide where you belong on that spectrum?
The First Few Weeks
The first few weeks are usually academically light. Students are still transferring to different classes and professors are discovering what their students have mastered and still must learn.
With that in mind, few barriers to entry (my economics at work) exist within the social scene. This is your time to make friends and acquaint yourself with a large array of people.
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At the same time, many people settle into a group within this period. These people usually share a dorm with you and are therefore convenient to join for a night out or in.
Remember that who you are in the first few weeks will usually not remain so when the term continues. When work arrives, you will (hopefully) party less and study more, which includes engaging in activities that are more focused on societies than pubs.
With that in mind, don’t worry about going to every club meeting or joining enough clubs. You’ll probably end up in many of the club your friends are in or selecting three or four important societies that meet at workable times.
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Also, some of the best opportunities for social interaction occur in the dining hall rather than your college’s local club. Be friendly with the people you live with because you’ll come to rely on them for class notes and midnight pizza runs.
Different Friend Groups
Now that you have five or six people to go out with, you may wish to diversify your assets (friend group). After all, you are here to learn as well.
The best study friends are usually those in your classes. They’ll be there to tell you what you missed if you slept through your alarm and stress with you for the upcoming exam.
Gym friends may come in handy as well. The freshman fifteen is no myth, and you’ll need someone to jog alongside when the time comes.
In addition, remember that your friends are not your only resource for venting about classes or the boy you like in French or Theology. Your parents are likely dying to hear from you, your roommate is likely willing to listen.
Your roommate, of course, will be constant in your life (whether that’s a positive thing or not). Even if you didn’t win the lottery and you aren’t meant to be, stay on their good side.
If they’re sleeping, don’t listen to music without headphones or slam the door as you leave. Make sure to address problems head on (no passive aggressive notes!).
Most importantly, invite them out with you. Roommate lunches can bring warring factions together, and a night out to unwind can bury the hatchet over who keeps forgetting to lock the door.
If Things Go Wrong…
You’ve gone out two nights this week, studied the other four, attended five club meetings, kept genial relations with your hall, and then Sunday hits and your grades are lower than expected or fatigue hits you like a train.
Sometimes you just need an unproductive day. Not every day must include club elections, an essay, two lectures, and a night of dancing.
The solution is sometimes your comfiest pajamas and that movie you’ve seen five hundred times (and will watch five hundred more).
If you don’t want to completely waste the day or night, invite friends to your room or to a common space for a group film.
If the fatigue is affecting your work and your social life isn’t the cause, then going to see a doctor could be your next step. Many college students neglect their health (often resulting in “fresher’s flu”); don’t be one of them.
Finally, most college students will start to fear overspending. In the first semester, you’ll need to replace the sheets you dyed pink in the wash or replenish your stock of sweaters because you didn’t realize how freezing winter would be, but so will everyone else.
Cutting back on the simple things (eating in the dining hall as opposed to a restaurant, opting for a free event rather than an expensive club) could put your mind at rest.
Don’t be afraid to call your parents about your concerns. They’ll probably just tell you to relax and enjoy yourself (and to order Chinese food a little less often).