So, You’re About to Go to College…

Dear Prospective and Admitted Students,

Imagine it’s your first day of the fall semester. You’re a college student! Butterflies are flash-mobbing in your stomach, your brain has accidentally wiped all your memory files, and your heart is doing that drum solo from the scene in Disney’s Tarzan with all the apes crashing the camp. (You know, the one where Rosie O’Donnell sings and Tantor plays an old-fashioned record player like a trumpet?)

Maybe you’ve been preparing for this day all your life or maybe you packed your suitcase a hour before you hopped in the car on your way here.

But with all the admitted students and prospies running around on campus last month, I thought it only appropriate to share a little sophomore wisdom—that is, wisdom derived from trial by fire.  If I may humbly suppose so, here is my advice on what to bring when you are first arriving on campus:

1.) Health kit. There’s no way to avoid being sick your first semester of school. You’re being flooded with tons of new information—maybe you’re trying a new sport, maybe you’ve messed up your sleep schedule. Whatever the reason, you’re going to get stressed and tired at some point. And that’s when it will happen. When you least want or need or expect it, that’s when disease will strike. So, while most college packing websites will tell you to bring an emergency aid kit, I also suggest bringing an urgency aid kit. This should have a thermometer, Tylenol or Motrin, vitamins, tissues, cough drops, tea (if you like tea) and those Emergen-C packets. (I know, they taste terrible, but you can’t afford to turn down 1000mg of Vitamin C) Even if by some miracle, you survive your first semester without sickness, you’ll get a return on your investment by the spring.

2.) Notebooks and folders. Buy them. Ahead of time. It can be one notebook with five subjects or maybe you like different notebooks for each class. Whatever you do, do it before you come. When you get here, you are going to be hit over the head with information and meetings. Even if you have a car, you won’t have time for a grocery run. And even though you won’t know how many classes you’re going to take when you first arrive, you can always use your extra notebooks later.

3.) Candy. Sweet, sour, chewy, crunchy, salty—whatever your preference. There are just gonna be days when you need the comfort of a Rolo or a peanut butter cup or and Oreo. (Can you tell that my go-to is chocolate?) But, I would only suggest one bag. It’s important to have it on hand, but you don’t want to go into some sort of sugar coma.

4.) Just as important are healthy snacks—trail mix, crackers, fruit. Once you get situated, you’ll know what you need and when and how to get it. But the first two weeks can be rough when you’re trying to get your bearings. Having some healthy, protein-rich food at your finger tips is a must.

5.) A water bottle is also a must. You’ll see almost everyone on campus carrying one. You’d be surprised at how often you don’t stop for water when you’re trying to get settled. Water bottles not only remind you to drink but give you access to water wherever you go.

6.) Now this is not a must have, but, if you have an item that you’re choosing for your dorm room, and you’re wondering whether to go with speakers or a TV, choose neither and opt for a printer. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just something that can copy and print and that can connect to your lap top or computer via Ethernet cable. So much time on campus is wasted by everyone I know running back and forth between computer labs trying to print things. You only have access to printers in Dana, Pleasants, and the Library. All the other printers are for staff use only, and all of the printers available to you are across campus from your dorm. Having a printer relieves tons of stress, and if you’re not an English major, you probably only need to buy ink once.