25 Things first-year college students should NEVER do:
1. Drink that Punch
You don't know what's in it. The people handing it to you don't know what's in it. Oh, and the fruit floating on the top... it'll get you wasted too.
2. Assume You Know
Assumptions are lazy thoughts. They are based on fear and ignorance. Challenge them. You'll be shocked to discover how wrong (or right) you've been. BONUS: Invite others to challenge their assumptions about you.
3. Look Down at Your Phone While Walking
You'll walk into bikers, buses, and trees. You'll miss out on making eye contact with new friends, old friends, and attractive strangers. Look! See that cute guy or girl from English class walking by trying to get your attention? Forget it. You just walked into a tree...
4. Expect Your Roomie to Be Your Bestie
Friendship is a bonus. Hope for it, but don't require it. A roommate is a roommate. When you don't require friendship, you can have honest conversations. Ironically, this is how you will develop a lasting friendship.
5. Go Home Every Weekend
When you're home, you are not at school meeting new people and getting involved. That's not college. That's home.
6. Be Surprised if You Get Homesick or Herpes (not related)
According to the Higher Education Research Institute, 66.6 percent of first year students admitted feel lonely or homesick. According to the CDC, about one in five college students graduate with herpes. If you feel homesick or it burns when you pee, turn to the people in your corner (when done peeing) and get help.
7. Go to Cancun on Credit Cards
Pay cash. Spring break tans last about a week (spray tans last longer). Credit card payments can last years (much longer than spray tans). ALWAYS pay your bills (at least the minimum). Bad credit can mean no car, apartment, or home in the future.
8. Get Stuck Behind the Fifth Wall
Physically your body is on campus, but emotionally you're connected to friends, family, long distance partners, and strangers off campus. Use technology to meet new people on campus, not to hide from them.
9. See Your Long-Distance Sweetheart EVERY Weekend
Whenever you get the urge to text, talk, or see them, only do it half the time. Spend the other half of the time texting, talking, and visiting with people you didn't know before you arrived on campus.
10. Walk in the Shower Barefoot
If the floors could talk, they would scream. WEAR SHOWER SHOES!!!
11. Text, Tweet, or Post It While Drunk or Angry
You will sober up and cool down, but your pics, posts, and texts will last forever. There's no such thing as "temporary" online (or on Snapchat).
12. Eat Pizza, Cookies, and Wings at 3 a.m. Every Night
You'll miss classes, gain weight, and go broke. The freshman 15 can quickly turn into the freshman 50.
13. Take 8 a.m. Classes (unless you have no choice)
Rookie mistake. You will never get up. Especially after you've been up until 3 a.m. eating pizza, cookies, and wings every night.
14. Get Naked Online
Assume your mom, dad, brother, sister, friends, grandparents, priest, rabbi, imam, neighbor, future employers, future husband or wife, professors, and that creepy guy or girl sitting next to you in class will see it.
15. Ask Mom or Dad to Fix it
It's your mess. Clean it up. Take 24 hours to process big emotions. Take time to marinate. It's how you become seasoned. Exception: if it's dangerous or criminal, get help immediately.
16. Keep Secrets
Secrets turn into shame. Shame turns into regret. Regret means living in the past. Living in the past means avoiding the present and future. Give voice to secrets and avoid the shame.
17. Be a Perfectionist
Perfectionists always fail. Imperfectionists are always perfect. Celebrate the act of doing. Use the outcome NOT to measure success, but rather to learn, grow, and work to be your personal best. Suggested reading: Mindset by Carol Dweck & The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.
18. Expect College (and life) to Just Happen
Weather happens. College experiences are created. What's your plan? A plan includes people, places, and patience.
19. Ignore Your Gut
Don't walk alone. Don't take drinks from strangers. don't trust people you just met (even attractive people with good hygiene). Follow your gut. It protects you. People who don't respect your gut are not people you need in your life.
20. Hide Bad Grades
Celebrate your Cs, Ds, and Fs by getting help in September or October. Get help before you need it. December is too late. Getting help always makes you look smart.
21. Get Drunk and Hook Up
Drunk is dangerous. There is no such thing as consent when incapacitated or too drunk. Not my opinion. It's a fact.
22. Limit Yourself to One Group of Friends
Work to create three different groups of friends. When one group of friends does something stupid, illegal, or out of alignment with your values, you'll always have somewhere else to go and other people to go with.
23. Try to Be Liked by Everyone
College isn't about who likes you (that was high school). College is about what you want. So, what do you want? What's your plan to get it?
24. Think You're Alone (You Are Never Alone)
According to ACHA-NCHA data, 32.6 percent of college students felt so depressed that it was difficult to function and 46.6 percent of college students felt things were hopeless. The good news: you are never alone. You have therapists, counselors, advisors, residence life staff, professors, support staff, spiritual leaders, hotlines, friends, family, and students who can help you. I'm here too. Need help now? Call the National Hopeline: 1-800-Suicide.
25. Fight the Uncomfortable
Life is 90 percent amazing and 10 percent difficult. The secret? Don't fight the uncomfortable. If you do, the 10 percent will take up 100 percent of your time. Instead, face the uncomfortable. Use your people, places, and patience to help you get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Need more college advice and support?
Visit Harlan's Naked Roommate College Boot Camp For Students & Parents, an online college coaching program that takes students from high school to the end of their first year in college. Click here for a sample lesson.