College freshman are like puppies: young, eager, and often in need of guidance. College is an entirely different environment, after all, and there’s a huge learning curve to leaving one’s childhood home. But among all the obvious warnings against lanyards and cafeteria food, a few trickier bits of advice can slip through the cracks.

I’m entering my junior year, and, with the whole “wise fool” moniker safely in my past, I finally feel qualified to offer my unique tips on the dos and don’ts of freshman year. These ones might not be the most essential bits of college advice you’ll hear, but I’ll be darned if they aren’t immensely overlooked.

Keep Your Facebook Profile Unique

In the first few weeks of college, you’ll be making a ton of friends. Facebook is a great way to connect beyond scattered hallway conversations. However, this is the rare occasion in your life in which many of your new friends won’t have any mutual ones in common with you. They’ll be searching for your name on Facebook, and unless your surname is Slovak, there will be a few pages to search through. My college roommate went through five pages before he found me.

The solution? Update your info with the name of your college. Stay away from profile pictures featuring cartoon characters, pets, celebrity lookalikes, or group photos. And, of course, delete any photos of yourself with duckface. You want to keep those new friends.

Don’t Pack Too Much Stuff

Most freshmen over-prepare for college. It makes sense: it’s the first time they’ve packed up and moved away from the family, so they don’t know if they need five suitcases of clothes, an extra electric fan, or that fruit juicer. Most of the time, though, they don’t. If something does turn out to be essential, I can assure you that Wal-Mart is never far away.

I once lived comfortably out of a single carry-on suitcase for an entire semester abroad in Rome. By contrast, I helped a freshman move two car’s worth of luggage up into her third-story dorm room last week. Those are both extreme cases, but try to stay on the basic side.

Kitchen Sinks Are Already Included In Most Dorms

Now, I admit that telling a freshman “don’t worry” isn’t entirely universal advice. It won’t apply to the slackers who need to take college more seriously. But let’s be honest: if you’re already reading this website as a college freshman, you’re probably the overachieving type. Sit back, relax, and limit your indulgences to a few posters.

Don’t Drink Too Much Coffee

The stereotypical college student has an omnipresent mocha, I know, but the power behind coffee, tea, energy drinks, and anything with caffeine in it will always weaken with time. Caffeine is a drug. Like all drugs, you’ll develop a tolerance for it. It’s admittedly the best drug ever, and I certainly encourage using it, but don’t scarf multiple cups a day, or by the time you hit midterms, none of them will help you. If anything, the heat of the coffee will put you to sleep.

To be honest, I abused the mighty fountain-of-youth power of coffee in my first few months by drinking four to five cups a day for kicks. It was awesome at first, but wore off quick. I was able to get the energy boost back by cutting it out for a while over a break. Nowadays, I’m more frugal with it. Anytime your sleep schedule is holding at a solid six or seven hours a night, ease off the caffeine. Save it for all-nighters. You know how you should only drink alcohol socially? Only drink coffee nocturnally.

BONUS: Be Extra Friendly In The First Two Weeks Of School

Little known fact: During the first two weeks at college, virtually everyone is open to new experiences. All the freshmen, upperclassmen, and even faculty members will solidify their opinions of you by roughly the start of the third week. First impressions go a long way, and this particular two-week window will help define your next four years. No pressure.

To take advantage, be more outgoing than normal. If you’re holed up in your room at the start of the year, you’ll be working against a collective view that you’re the quiet kid for a long while. The more people who know you, the more connections you’ll have. Sign up for clubs early, and you’ll get in on the ground floor. Talk to your professors after class early, and they’ll remember you for the rest of the year. Don’t try to keep up the energy forever, though; you’ll burn out. Muscle though the first few weeks, and you can breathe easier for the rest of the semester.

Adam Rowe is a junior Communications major at Geneva College. He likes acting, and writing on his blog called Unboxed, but dislikes school buses and bananas. Who decided the banana was a fruit, anyway? It’s not a fruit if there’s no juice, Adam contests.

[Photo credit: andreasrueda on Flickr]