The temperature is reaching into the 80s, group projects and 10-page research papers are being dumped upon us, and finals are looming ever closer. My freshman year in the Honors Program at the University of Delaware is coming to a close. I feel like the first day of New Student Orientation was both yesterday (the year went so fast) and four years ago (it feels like I packed four years worth of classes/activities/clubs/events). into one year. To honor my first year of college reaching its completion – below is a list of some advice to the freshmen who will be arriving on campus next semester. (The pieces of advice with *** in front of them apply only to students who will be living on campus).

  1. At UD, it’s a running joke that it rains every Tuesday. Two things you will be very thankful for when precipitation starts gushing from the clouds one day a week are rain boots and an umbrella. Pro tip: get a pair of boots that double as rain and snow boots to save money. L.L. Bean has good sturdy ones that can tread through water in both its liquid and solid forms.
  1. ***If you can afford it and if it is feasible – live on campus. It enables you to make lots of friends, walk to exams or activities that take place in the evening, have somewhere to go throughout the day if you don’t have classes back-to-back, get involved in residence leadership opportunities and dorm events, and just have a bigger connection to the campus and its happenings in general. That’s not to say that you can’t have a rewarding experience if you don’t live on campus; of course, everyone can enjoy the UD experience in different ways!
  1. Get to know your professors, which is made a lot easier by the small size of Honors classes. Your college life (and even career opportunities) will be richer if you make those connections.
  1.  ***If you have to pick one thing to invest in, it’s a good quality, squishy, THICK mattress pad. Not having to worry about trying to fall asleep on a hard, paper-thin mattress is essential. Your sleep is already going to be limited as it is.
  1. Always go to class. I honestly don’t know how people survive when they skip. If exams are based on lectures, you are in a bad position if you skip a day.
  1. ***Bring a reusable water bottle, and if you drink a lot of water (like me), also bring a larger container for storing water. (Honors freshmen live in Redding, which has a water bottle-filling station on the first floor. That bad boy was my best friend this year – I filled up my bottle and container any time I wanted and stored the container in my mini fridge to avoid making extra trips to the bottle filler).
  1. The dining hall food, in my opinion, is not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Disclaimer: I do not have any dietary restrictions, so being able to choose whatever I want to eat contributes to my perception of its quality. The Caesar Rodney dining hall is huge and has plenty of options (including vegan and gluten-free), and there is always a salad bar no matter the time of day (bless). If all else fails, pizza is normally a staple in the dining hall.
  1. ***You say to yourself, “Oh, I don’t need snacks. I’ll be eating at the dining hall.” But you’re really going to want something to munch on while you are doing your homework late into the night or when you get back from an activity late at night.
  1. Try and do a dry run of your classes before the first day of classes. It will help you feel less stressed on your first day and also not be late.
  1.  ***Take your dorm key everywhere. Yes, that means the bathroom, too. You do not want to be stuck calling the RA on duty at 2:00 A.M. because your roommate locked the door and went to sleep while you were chatting with someone in the lounge.
  1.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: use a planner, for goodness’s sake. If not a planner, then Google calendar or the like. It will save your GPA and your stress levels, honestly.
  1. ***I, for one, used my mini ironing board and cheap iron a lot this year. I knew I was not going to want to wear wrinkled clothes, so if you are one of those people, I recommend hitting up Bed, Bath, & Beyond and getting those items.
  1. You will feel like you have no idea what classes you need to take or how to even schedule come second semester. Don’t worry: every major has a checksheet online that lists all the classes you need to take to graduate. Just Google your major with the words “University of Delaware” and “checksheet” and it should pop up. Also, use your degree audit on UDSIS to check what credits you need to take and which credits you already have fulfilled. Your degree audit is basically a checksheet that shows your progress. On the note of registration – if you need to take a class at another university, follows the steps for transferring credit that you can find online. And don’t forget about Honors requirements.
  1. Use the Blue Hen Planner on UDSIS for figuring out your schedule for registration – it lets you make multiple prospective schedules, and you can even import your schedule straight from the planner on registration day.
  1. You will learn the layout of campus in two weeks tops. You might learn shortcuts later than that, but you’ll figure it out. This school is the perfect size and it has never felt too big.
  1. Go to office hours. You will get to know your professors and your grades will almost undoubtedly benefit. Trust me, even if you don’t think you have to go, go.
  1. ***Bring flip flops for the shower and a shower caddy.
  1. Take your classes seriously. I can personally vouch that the Honors classes here are quite challenging, even the introduction classes. That’s not to say that they are impossible – but just be aware that you will have to work hard.
  1. ***If you are going back and forth between getting a printer or not, I would recommend getting a printer for your dorm. You can print at any time of day or night, and you don’t have to get up and walk to the library or a student center to pick up a piece of paper that could have taken two seconds to obtain if the printer were in your room. This is especially helpful if you are a night owl like me.
  1. Get involved. Joining a club will give you friends and a fun and/or useful activity to do as well as show you are a well-rounded student. (Shameless plug: Swing Club is the best thing I ever did here). But be careful: joining too many activities can make you overwhelmed and put a stress on your academics, so explore but then choose wisely so that you don’t overcommit yourself.

A last piece of advice: have fun and have a positive mindset! Encourage yourself to try new things, talk to new people, make new friends, and get involved. Make the most of your experience here. You only get a few years to experience college, so make it count!

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