So, it’s orientation day on your new college campus and you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to make it this year without looking like a bumbling idiot—or a new student. Although there are some things that you will probably just have to work on (like figuring out where you’re going around campus/the city you live in), there are a few telltale signs of a freshman that you should avoid. If you’ve committed a few faux pas, well, don’t worry. Even the upperclassmen were in your shoes once—and they survived.
One of the first things you’re going to want to know is where you fit in—juniors and seniors have been at this school for three years already and they know the lay of the land. However, freshman and sophomores are still figuring out their place, which is why it’s important to make sure you don’t step on any upper-class toes when you’re getting settled in at your school. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be friendly, or sit where you want—but what I am saying is don’t take it over-the-top in an effort to get noticed. Respect other students’ boundaries, and respect the fact that you’re still a newbie with lots to learn. On the flip-side of that, however, do make sure that you’re friendly and open with the people you meet. If you have trouble making conversation with people, just ask them questions about themselves—after all, everyone is their own favorite subject and talking about them is a sure way to get them to open up.
Another thing freshman don’t have is the home-court advantage—when you start your college experience, you’re the new kid on the block that doesn’t know the fastest way across campus or the best place to get a burger at midnight. This can be quickly remedied however, if you make some older friends. Find a few upperclassmen to hang out with, and you’ll soon find yourself venturing into new territory that many freshman will never experience. Another great way to do this is to simply go exploring in your free time—wander around your campus or city and just see what you can find. Who knows, you may discover the newest popular study spot before anyone else!
When you’re starting your classes, there are a few rules that you’re going to want to follow. The first one is to realize that students like their classes to start and end precisely when they’re supposed to—so don’t be the guy in the corner that asks a detailed question two minutes before class is supposed to let out. You’ll just make everyone else mad that they’re going to be the last in the lunch line, and that hungry anger will all be directed at you—possibly causing heated whispers about you in the hallway. Also, don’t be that student that needs to comment on everything the professor says, whether it’s relevant or not. The person standing up in front, teaching the class, is definitely more qualified than you—whether you think so or not. So sit down, ask good questions, and take even better notes.
Although it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll show your naïveté at least once during your freshman year, that doesn’t have to mean that you stick out like a sore thumb. Starting college can be intimidating, but try not to worry about it too much. Be yourself, and make friends with the people you meet—college is an exciting time, so don’t let small things like social norms get in the way of your amazing experiences!