Freshmen Fifteen: 15 Tips for College Freshmen
A revisited body positive, sex-positive, friendly look at 15 tips for college freshman
1. Get out there
College is an opportunity to start new. New home, new friends, and a new way of life. If something seems even the slight bit appealing, try it. Go for that photography club, take part in Greek life, or apply for student government. Whatever it is, say yes to new experiences to bring you out of your comfort zone. You never know where it might lead.
2. See your provider—make sure your health is in check
Go visit a physician. This is the time to ask your doctor anything and everything, and maybe even switch up your method of birth control. Make sure you're using a method that works for you. If taking a pill every day is your jam, get the Bedsider birth control reminder app; or if you just want to 'get it and forget it,' try a longer-acting method like the implant or IUD.
3. Doing long distance
If you are planning to go the distance with your partner, don't wait till moving day to discuss what it is going to look like—set ground rules and expectations. Going into long distance relationships—whether it's a new relationship or you've been together for years—is a challenge. Setting clear expectations and boundaries can make the transition a lot easier. For example, how many times do you expect to talk per day? How are many phone calls too many? How long will you go without seeing each other? Planning ahead of time for visits can give you both something to look forward to while you're enjoying yourself at school.
4. Get familiar with your college health center
Use those first few weeks to explore your campus health center's website. It is good to know beforehand what services you can expect and what the cost might be. If your health center doesn't offer a wide variety of services, your future self will thank you for finding another provider nearby. While you’re at, visit Bedsider.org to find a method that fits your needs and lifestyle—it’s always good to be prepared.
5. Keep an open mind
Be open-minded. College brings together people from all different ideologies and backgrounds. Get to know the people you sit next to in class and learn from them. Some of the greatest lessons in college do not happen in the classroom; they happen through the people you meet. Take classes that grab your interest and don’t stick to one thing—try it all. You might go in thinking you’re a Political Science major, but take one Psychology class that opens your mind to a whole new area of study. It's ok to test out different waters and find out what interests you the most. Take classes that you are actually interested in and don't feel pressured to choose a major right away.
6. Enjoy your “Me Time”
In college, it may seem that you must do everything with somebody at all times. No, you don't! Go to the café by yourself, go to the library by yourself, take a walk by yourself – it's ok. It's ok to say no to plans. It's ok to stay in. Sometimes that is just what we need on a Friday night. Explore your city, go to the local market, take up a new dance class, grab a bite to eat at a place you've always wanted to try.
7. Test your boundaries, but know your limits
There is a sweet spot between testing your boundaries and knowing your limits when it comes to anything in life. Whether it's work, classes, friends, or other relationships, outside of your comfort zone is the only place you'll grow and find out what works for you. You may be uncomfortable at first, but that is only growing pains. But when pushing your boundaries no longer feels like excitement and growth, trust your gut—if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right for you.
8. Dorm Rules
There's nothing worse than an alarm left on snooze for 30 minutes or an intoxicated roommate strolling in at 2AM when you have an exam the next day. To avoid these unpleasant moments, set boundaries early. From who is cleaning what, to house rules for having guests stay over, to quiet hours, setting boundaries early can save you much needed hours of sleep and stress. Remember, sexiling (Sexiling – The act of exiling your roommate at any point in order to do sexy things with your partner (no more scrunchies/socks on the door) isn't cool either.
9. Try online dating
Meeting people is tough, and college is a busy time! Give online dating a try—it is a fast, easy way to meet people that you might not normally cross paths with.
10. Don't forget your purpose + stay motivated
Starting off freshman year, it's easy to get lost in making new friends, joining a variety of clubs, exploring your college campus and city, or getting caught up in what parties are that week. But while you're having all that fun don't forget your purpose. At the end of the day, college is not only for advancing your career but also learning something you're passionate about. Find what your passion and don't let anything get in your way. You can have your cake and eat it, too, with the right balance.
11. Say no to bad sex
Simple: say no to bad sex. You are entitled to good sex, and if it is anything less than that, say no. If it doesn't feel good or your gut is telling you something might be off, don't be shy about relaying that information to your partner. Try to always go out with a game plan in mind if you begin to feel unsafe.
12. Explore your city + go off campus
After some time, you might feel like you're trapped in a fishbowl—same routine, same people, same atmosphere. If you can, get off campus and explore the city, town, or state you live in. Take a quick weekend getaway with your friends to a nearby destination, spend the day exploring a new neighborhood of your city or go to a local festival. One of the best opportunities college brings is being able to call a new city home. Don't take it for granted!
13. Don't rush into anything
Be picky! It can be scary at first to not have the comforts of home, family, and friends, but one of the sweetest things about college is making your own family. It is easy to become fast friends with the first few people you meet, but be selective when it comes to who you spend your time with—don't rush into any new friendships or relationships.
14. Love yourself first
Check in with yourself and know you're not alone. College is a time of crazy change from little things like different classes in buildings across campus, new cities, and shaping your interests. Your weight will naturally fluctuate through periods of change. While your mind is working hard, be kind to your body; it is perfect the way it is. And don't be afraid to take mental health days when your mind is overwhelmed and overworked! Do what feels right for you and show yourself some acceptance and forgiveness.
We all have that one aunt or older cousin who refuses to let up on their “I wish I would’ve” stories about missed opportunities during their time at college. The truth is, you only live once and college is what you make it. Choose not to be consumed by the fear of “what if” and “what will they think”. Walk into each and every opportunity with your held high and when that small voice creeps into the back of your mind, whisper “YOLO” and choose to live your best regret-free life.