You’ve finalized your freshman class schedule, you’ve met up with a couple friends from orientation, and perhaps you’re okay with the fact that even though summer break has met an untimely death, its abrupt termination nevertheless signals promising opportunities for learning that are just around the corner.

However, among the plentiful pros of starting academically anew with a clean slate protrudes one glaring con: you’re still a freshman. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with freshmen. Without them, upperclassmen at Iowa State University wouldn’t have been offered $1,000 to move out of on-campus housing to make way for them.

It may seem contradictory and wacky to be reading a guide on how to smother all signs of your freshman look during HackCollege‘s Freshman Week – those seven days we cater content to frazzled first-years — it’s anything but wacky. While you won’t have to deal with a sizable chunk of the BS you dealt with in high school — tardy slips, hall monitors, mindless worksheets — one thing that never changes is the stigma levied against rookies.

Consult this list of hacks to help you assimilate into your new environment, derision-free.

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Lose the Lanyard

Burn it.

Okay, don’t burn it. That may acquaint you with your RA sooner than you’d like — not to mention your campus police department. Rather, stash it away in the deepest, darkest realms of your new dorm closet, (which may not be deeper than a couple inches, since it is a dorm) to be unearthed only in the event that you don an ironic Halloween costume of  a college freshman a few months later.

If you don’t plan on partaking in a night of All Hallows’ Eve shenanigans, though, promptly pitch the band of cheap fabric, as it’s an accessory whose lifespan ended a month ago when you set foot off campus following orientation.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Feel free to feast upon arriving at your new home; you’ve earned it, having worked your butt off through four years of high school, all under the hovering watch of your parents to achieve the college level of independence — an independence that entitles you to take an inordinate number of visits to the dining center’s soft-serve machine. By around the sixth gummy bear-topped chocolate-vanilla swirl, though, you should begin to realize why dining centers call it “all-you-care-to-eat” rather than “all-you-can-eat.”

With this distinction in mind, caring what kinds of foods you treat your body to will become second nature, making it that much easier to strike a balanced diet and in turn, keep the Freshman 15 at bay.

Bypass the Bookstore

Nothing says freshy more obviously or more expensively for that matter, than hauling a box filled to the brim with a fortune’s worth of overpriced textbooks marked up to the nth degree by your campus bookstore.

Save yourself from mockery and your scholarship dollars from depletion by sticking it to the man and bypassing the bookstore entirely. Rent, barter, share, write your own — whatever the cost, it’s sure to be cheaper than the cost of resigning to the rip-off that is the bookstore checkout lane.

With this slew of alternatives at your disposal, you should be empowered to evade the clutches of bookstore evil. (I heard Satan’s first job was a bookstore bagger.)

Hang Out with Other Freshmen

The notion that chumming with other newcomers helps you conceal your newcomer look may seem contradictory, but it turns out that freshmen assimilate into their new environments most efficiently by bonding with students who are going through the same classes, experiences, issues, and obstacles as they are.

By the same token, the most conspicuous freshmen are the sycophantic try-hards — the ones who attempt to prematurely assimilate into their surroundings by hanging exclusively with upperclassmen, a group whom they genuinely share little in common with and stick out like a sore thumb as a result.

RelatedHow to Make New Friends in College

Go Easy on the Posters

Generally speaking, the point of a wall is to lend basic foundational support to a structure. When you plaster every square inch of your walls with posters, the structural soundness of your dwelling isn’t compromised per se, but it does make you feel like you’re living underneath an abode as flimsy as the hut of the first little pig — you know, the one who went with straw.

Rather, practice self-restraint when purchasing posters: snag a sweet deal or two at the bookstore’s poster liquidation sale, but try not to go overboard. Aim for variety so that your posters accurately sum up your interests, passions, and favorite groups. That is, if you must indulge in a Bob Marley poster, limit yourself to one.

Download the Campus Map onto your Phone

Another article of n00bsmanship so graciously provided by your college’s office of student life is the printed campus map. When folded, it fits comfortably inside your pocket, but when needed, expands to an unnecessarily large surface area of 20 square feet, on par with that of the floor space of your dorm.

If your student life office is truly gracious, though, then they would have devised a nifty map app or, at the very least, an online PDF with which to navigate your otherwise driftless self. Download or bookmark it, or better yet, save a PDF or screenshot of the map to your phone available anytime for offline use.

Ask for Directions

Speaking of aimlessness, should you be unable to hone in on “Rich Alumnus” Hall on your first day of class, flag down an upperclassman for directions — someone who looks well-versed in campus navigation.

Yes, you’ll have exposed yourself as a freshman, but not nearly as blatantly as you would have had you not asked for directions in the first place and ended up arriving on the polar opposite side of campus, in the wrong building, and unbeknownst to you, still lost, until Professor Notyourprofessor asks, “Now, everyone is here for Advanced Rocket Surgery 450, correct?” Bottom line: cut your losses and move on.


Image: Jeremy Wilburn