Mochalatte7362 may be from Canada, but her college knowledge is universal (except for the government assistance part). We wish she'd been giving free advice when we were in school—we wouldn't have spent all our money on textbooks, and maybe we could afford a hot dog right now. We'd kill for a hot dog. —SparkNotes editors
Mocha to the rescue! It's college scouting season, and I'm here to give you a heads-up on the stuff that the college admissions office "forgets" to tell you...
1. Spare change = gold mine. It’s good for vending machines, laundry (though you don’t want to end up washing $12 worth of dirty clothes with nothing but nickels in your pocket), and midnight runs to convenience stores.
2. EVERYONE in Canada gets government assistance. Here, it's called OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) and it will save your life... it will also kill your life when you realize that you spent a quarter of it shopping before you even got to campus. Don’t do that!
3. Government assistance checks always come late, so make sure you have some sort of fund to tide you over (mine was the “Mom Loves Mocha” fund—feel free to borrow the name).
4. Going to the mailbox has never been such an ego booster! A pink slip in the mailbox will make anyone smile. Why? Um, hello –you’ve got mail, and the post office peeps are waiting to take your pink slip and hand over your package!
5. CARE PACKAGES. Your dad might have mailed baked goods, but there’s no telling until you open the package. So proudly pick up your box and walk down the hall with your hopeful head held high, your calf muscles straining under the weight of the 30 lb. case of Dora the Explorer erasers that your mom just sent.
6. The bill for your textbooks will pretty much be equal to your tuition bill—at least if you buy everything from your university bookstore. So find it online/secondhand whenever you can!
7. No need to buy your textbooks until after the first class, during which the professor will clear up any concerns over which edition you need, where it’s available, etc.
8. The health service nurses are there because they couldn’t make it in a real hospital. If you have Ebola, get yourself to a trusted professional.
9. Canceled classes rank right up there with birthdays.
10. It has never sucked so much to get sick. Missing one class you can deal with, but two or three? You best be finding a friend who takes awesome notes.
11. If duct tape, twine, Band-Aids, or stale pizza can’t fix it, then you have a serious problem.
12. Exam season would be hilarious if you weren’t so stressed out. Everyone is either homicidal, a zombie from 9 consecutive all-nighters, or about to break down right in front of you if you so much as ask “How’s it going?”
13. ATMs are the devil’s advocate. I have yet to see a student walk away from one without a grimace on his/her face. Note: ATM = Another Twenty Missing.
14. Sleep is more important than showering.
15. At the beginning of the year you’ll kill yourself to get to classes early. By October, you’ll roll out of bed at 8:27 for your 8:30 seminar.
16. Anything that has caffeine in it automatically becomes the nectar of the gods. You spilled someone’s coffee? You better offer to pay for it, and make it a large.
17. Even if you don’t like football, you’ll get caught up in the excitement and school spirit that go with it. Don’t be surprised if you end up screaming yourself hoarse at a game, even if you have no clue what’s going on.
18. Professors can make or break your year. Boring material + a mediocre professor = a tolerable class. Good material + professor from hell = glazed-over eyes. Decent material + amazing professor = great! Awesome material + an even awesomer professor? Best. Class. Of. Your. Life.
19. PLEASE take random courses that have nothing to do with your program for electives. Just trust me on this one.
20. Explore your city! You moved away for a reason! Convince your parents that buying you a digital camera (so you can document your adventures and send them email updates, of course!) is a valuable investment.
21. Naps are beautiful.
22. The Freshman 15: in the first 2 months you will either gain it from eating cheeseburgers and pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or you’ll lose it from subsisting on 2 meals a day (because the cafeteria terrifies you).
23. “But I’m a poor, starving student!” will become your argument for everything.
24. Get involved! Even if you’re shy, it’s a great way to make friends and meet people with common interests. Who knows, you might meet the most hilarious person ever and end up being BFFs!
25. By your second semester, when a campus tour of potential freshman wanders past, you’ll smile fondly at their innocent, confused faces and wonder if you were ever that naïve. Hint: You were. Big time.
What's the most important thing you learned in college, Sparklers? If you're not there yet, what questions do you have?
Related Post: Chronicles of a College Kid: Preparing for Dorm Life