1. Your Orientation BuddyYou’ll recognize your orientation buddy by his or her approachable body language and easy-enough-to-get-along-with demeanor. They’ll save you from having to walk solo during tours or eat alone at meal time and, if you’re lucky, will make you laugh during the boring in-between waiting periods that college orientations are filled with. Likely, you won’t end up being best friends but, hey, you’ll get through orientation together and that’s a bonding experience like no other. After losing touch, my sister and her orientation buddy ran into each other three years later. They recognized each other immediately and laughed about their experiences together. They've stayed in touch and have been close friends ever since.
2. Your RAYour RA may be corny or cheesy with his or her safety talks of rules and regulations but, when it comes down to it, they are there to help you out with anything you may need during your transition into independence. Essentially, he or she is there to make sure you stay safe and don’t burn down the residence hall but, if given the chance, can become so much more of a resource. Take the time to get to know your RA on a personal level because it’s great to have an upperclassman on your side who’s been there, done that. My friend and her RA ended up becoming good friends. Later in college, they began dating. Just saying.
3. Your RoommateWhether you love or hate it, you’re going to be living in very (emphasis on very) close proximity for a year with another human being. So make the best of it by making friends. No, you don’t have to be best friends, but being civil, considerate and cordial will make life more pleasant for everyone involved. Getting along with your roommate will also open your network of friends and give you someone to hang with until you build up your own group of friends. Who actually wants to sit in the cafeteria alone every day? Not many people. Your roommate will probably be in the same boat, so try to work it out. My shyest friend roomed blind and, to this day, says it’s the best thing she ever decided to do. She and her roommate became and stayed friends through college. Her “blind” roomie ended up being a bridesmaid at her wedding.
4. The Terrifying ProfessorThey’ll do their best to intimidate you – and it will work. They’ll let you know that high school courses are a walk in the park compared to college – and they’ll be right. Think of your first “scary” professor as your first “real” world boss because, truthfully, your first boss will probably expect a lot more of you than any professor ever will. One of my scariest (and best) professors would lock the door promptly as class began. He let students know that you shouldn't bother attending if you couldn't arrive on time. Each class you missed lowered your grade by a percentage. I was two minutes late to one class and was forced to leave because the door was locked. I never made that mistake again.
5. The MentorSomewhere along the way in your college career, you’ll meet someone that will change your life for the better. This person may be a professor, a TA or, even, a pal you look up to and admire. He or she may introduce you to a subject you love or a concept you’d never considered. Whatever the case, this person will have an impact on who you are and who you’ll one day become. Sure, your mentor may or may not actually stay present in your life forever, but he or she will leave an impression that’s everlasting. I had a professor in college that, no matter how hard I tried, would not give me the grade I thought I deserved. I went to his office hours and ended up getting to know him. I also learned that he believed I was capable of the very best, which is why he was harder on me. I’ve never worked so hard in a class before – and still ended up with a 3.5. Regardless of the grade I ended up with, I know I learned more in that class than many of my others combined. He has since retired, but I will never forget the impact of such a great educator. I also still refer to my notes from his course. (Note: I wrote him a letter post-college to let him know about the profound impact he had on me as a teacher. He and I have corresponded since. Make sure to let your teachers know they’re appreciated when you can. To paraphrase his words, it makes their jobs worthwhile when they find out they've positively impacted a student’s life.) If you haven’t met all five yet, don’t worry, you will. If you’re wondering if you have, you haven’t. Trust us – you’ll absolutely know them when you meet them.
What significant experiences did you have in college?