It’s official, you’ve made it to the beautiful College of William and Mary. Upon your arrival to this wonderfully humid campus, we thought it fitting to congratulate you on your admission with a short but relevant list of declassified college survival tips.
The first and by far most important thing you need to do is think up a sweet adjective to pair with your name for the aggressive amount of icebreakers you will encounter throughout orientation.
As you will learn during your time here, this adjective has the power to define your college nickname for the rest of the year. If you want to play it safe, we recommend choosing something generic and generally positive, like “awesome,” “nice,” or “great.” If you want to be the immortal god of all freshman nicknames, go with something obscure and/or weird (we recommend any part of speech that isn’t an adjective).
While you sit in a lima bean-shaped circle of awkward icebreakers, understand that you won’t have a Cinderella moment where your whole life comes together just because you’ve arrived on campus. You might feel awkward and out of place for a little while, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Chances are most of your hallmates feel the same way, and, once you accept that you won’t feel immediately situated, you will all start to connect in a more honest way.
In addition to feeling out of place, feeling stupid in comparison to everyone else is going to crop up every once in a while. You’re here, so it’s obvious that you’re not actually stupid. Some kids’ hobbies just happen to include classic Greek tragedies, and it’s okay if you feel totally lost the second you engage them in conversation. Be humbled by the vast amount of knowledge around you, and focus on honing your personal skills in subjects that are important to you.
A big part of college is self-discovery, and the nice thing about that is that no one has time to care about what everyone else is doing. We’re not in the middle school cafeteria anymore, so trust us when we tell you that no one is watching your every move. You can let go of the idea that you have to be on your toes lest there be a rumor about you. That being said, don’t be a jerk who gets into arguments on the Overheard at William and Mary page — that’s the sort of thing people will probably judge you for.
For fear of beating a dead horse about living with a roommate, we will keep this simple: Be direct, but be reasonable. If your roommate has a new sexual conquest every night that’s preventing you from sleeping or simply uses all the paper towels without buying new ones, be direct about your problem or else it will drag on. But if your roommate cracks their knuckles one too many times for you, realize you have to live with it and move on.
We can’t stress enough that you need to take responsibility for your health. Believe it or not, you cannot survive on Natty Light, cereal and all-nighters. Your body will hate you. Your mental health is an even more delicate balance to maintain, and it trumps nearly everything. Going to class will not always be the most important thing, especially if you’re so out of it that you can’t pay attention or participate. Take the time to check in with yourself. Being healthy matters more than a grade.
Finally, accept the fact that things will go wrong and you will make questionable choices — it’s part of the experience. How you handle your mistakes is more important than the fact that you make them. In time, embarrassment will yield to a quirky anecdote, another part of how your time here has made you who you are.