Your dorm room is unpacked, your parents are gone, and your classes aren’t starting for another few days, so now what? As you meander through the first few months of school, you’ll begin to change a lot from the person you were back in high school. While you undergo these changes — good and bad — remember a few of these freshman rules so you can get the most out of your college experience.

RelatedAvoid These Freshman Mistakes for a Great First Year of College

Take Useful Classes

Sure, you’re going to take a lot of classes that you won’t remember, and you might even take some of those pointless filler classes just to keep your GPA in good shape. However, think about taking more useful, versatile, long-term classes such as those requiring internships, business and economics, leadership and public speaking, and even improv classes.

These will help you become well rounded, which is a very desirable trait to have when you enter the job market. Regardless of your major, make sure you have at least one writing-intensive course because a lot of jobs require professional writing – be it emails or 10-page proposals.

Think Outside Your Clique

This goes especially for you Greeks. There’s nothing wrong with having dozens of friends in your fraternity or sorority, but it’s a good idea to keep up with people who aren’t associated with the drama of life on Greek row. You might need someone to house you when things get dramatic, or a reference that’s not associated with your current group of friends.

Diversify your social circles as best as possible and you’ll get a glimpse into the lives of all kinds of people, making potential connections along the way.

Delay Declaring a Major

Most people have no idea what they want to do when they enter school, but they have a pretty good feel for the subjects in which they excel or struggle. Keep these in mind as you take courses that are applicable to numerous majors and requirements.

Thinking about anthropology? Make sure your first class will also fall into the category of science or sociology, so you can still use the credits towards your major’s requirements, regardless of what that may be.

Double Minor

It sounds a lot more impressive to have a double major or minor. When it comes to a major, that could be a lot of work, but when it comes to minors, it might just be a few extra courses.

You don’t need a lot of classes to create your minor, and if you double up in similar topics – say Psychology and Sociology – you probably only need one or two extra courses to complete both minors. Same goes for Business and Economics or English and Literature.

RelatedHow to Become More Than Your Major

Get a Job

For starters, any amount of money coming in is going to help you pay for the most expensive four years of your life. Whether you need to offset some of your loans, pay for books, or get some money for booze, a part-time job can get you there.

For those of you attending school on scholarships or on mom and dad’s dime, you should still get a job. Work experience, especially while attending school full time, is very respectable, and will actually help you streamline your priorities while in school. You will have something to put on your resume when you graduate, and you’ll probably make a lot of friends and contacts along the way, which covers the whole think-outside-your-clique thing too.

Do Something Different

Make it a point to do things a little differently from everyone around you. If that means you get a job, or you find a second or third circle of friends, then do it. If that means taking 400-level courses when you’re a sophomore, give it a shot. If that means staying sober on Halloween to compare modern and ancient mating habits for your cultural sociology paper, so be it!

Be willing and prepared to have different experiences, even if your friends don’t want to join you. Going at challenges on your own is part of the independent college experience, so don’t wait for your roommate to join an organization to sign up for your study abroad program, or to take a class you really want to take. Just go for it and see what happens!


Looking for more freshman tips? Take a look at our Freshman Week and College Transitions series.


Image: Oglethorpe University