College Dorm Décor on the Cheap Your Ultimate College How-To Guide Link Roundup

What to Expect Your First Week of College

August 8th, 2008 Jamie

For a most students, the first week of college is a big fat tangle of emotions. You’re excited to be out on your own, nervous about what’s coming, maybe even a little homesick. Want to know what it’s going to be like? I’ve got you covered.

Move-in Day

You (and probably your parents) will spend a good portion of the day unloading your stuff, meeting your roommate, and running errands to hunt down the super important things you somehow forgot to pack. You might check out the campus a little, maybe eat lunch or dinner with your parents, and then, suddenly, it will be time for them to go.

The first night in your room with a new roommate might be a little awkward, but that’s just because you don’t know each other yet. Try to get things unpacked a little-at least find your toothbrush and your pillow-and if you’re feeling homesick, put up some pictures from home, too.

“Welcome Week”

Whether or not your school calls it “Welcome Week,” the first week at most colleges is usually geared toward getting freshmen settled in and acquainted with each other and the campus. That means there are lots of activities planned-UCSD had over 100 activities planned for our first week, from a huge all-school rally to dances, beach trips, and bonfires-so go to them!

Everyone’s a little nervous the first week, so it is the BEST time to make friends! You don’t have to go to every activity, but if something sounds interesting, check it out, and don’t be afraid to say hi.

First Day of Class

College classes are different than high school classes-sometimes very different. Rather than passing out worksheets the first day, college professors are more apt to give you a scary-looking syllabus, start lecture, or to say things like, “The person to the right of you and to the left of you will drop this class.” (By the way, that’s not true, even for the hardest classes-most of the class tends to stick around.)

Don’t be intimidated! Once you’ve been to a few classes, you’ll start to recognize faces and get used to the professor’s lecture style. It’s a change, but it’s not as bad as it seems!

One tip: Walk around campus the day before classes start and find out where your classrooms are-it will save you from walking in late in the middle of your first class. Also, be sure you ask someone if you’re in the right class when you walk in the first day. Everybody else feels disoriented, too, so it’s not a big deal. (I still asked even during my senior year—good thing too, because once I ended up in an engineering class when I should have been in a poetry class!).

Everything Else

Last fall I wrote a whole month’s worth of posts about the basics of your first few days of college. Check out these entries for more info on whatever it is that’s worrying you, or feel free to email me with questions.

Be sure to check out the archives for more, or subscribe if you want to keep up on the latest info!

photo: Tongji by sinoreport

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. M  |  August 8th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Gah, I only have ten minutes between classes, how can I make sure I’m not late for the next class? If I am late, what do I do? Knock? Just walk right in and sit down? What if I have to leave class early? Just walk out? Please help!

  • 2. Jamie  |  August 8th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    @ M: Don’t worry! College is (generally) a LOT more chill than high school. People come in late and leave early–the biggest thing professors care about is that you make an effort not to disrupt the class. So if you might have to leave early, sit on the aisle so you don’t knock a bunch of people in the head when you leave. If you get there late, just come in quietly and find a seat. And unless the door is locked, there’s no need to knock.

    If you’re in very small classes or you feel nervous about how the professor(s) will react to your schedule, make a point of explaining your situation in office hours or in an email.

    It’ll all work out okay!

  • 3. M  |  August 8th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the reply, it was really helpful. I just can’t help being nervous. Not sure how I’m going to handle the work load and all that.

    I also have no idea what I want to do after uni. It doesn’t help that some people I know have some very strong opinions about people going to uni. when they don’t know what they want to do yet. Haha.

    Great blog by the way. :)

  • 4. Patrick Sizemore  |  August 9th, 2008 at 12:14 am

    I recall my least favorite thing about my first week of college being the excessive, persistent recruitment practices of Greek Life.

  • 5. STA = No Strings Attached&hellip  |  August 9th, 2008 at 7:32 am

    […] P.S. Go read Jamie’s article over at Surviving College Life: College Dorm Décor on the Cheap. I’m also a fan of her article, written for freshmen (like moi), What To Expect Your First Week of College. […]

  • 6. Jamie  |  August 11th, 2008 at 8:28 am

    @ M: Don’t worry, it’s totally natural to be nervous (I was!) AND to be unsure of what you want to do after college. I’d say just start by picking a major & see where it takes you.

  • 7. Jamie  |  August 11th, 2008 at 8:32 am

    @ Patrick: Yeah, I found that a little much, too. Actually at my school they did it every quarter–Fall, Winter and Spring.

  • 8. Getting Ready for College&hellip  |  August 14th, 2009 at 9:41 am

    […] All that to say: Calm down. Everything works itself out if you are just yourself. Go to whatever school functions your school offers on the first day and realize that everybody is just as nervous as you are. […]

  • 9. april  |  August 12th, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Should I buy textbooks ahead of time or wait until i get the syllabus?? How much time does a professor allow/give for a student to get a textbook, 1-2 weeks? I plan to order my books online I don’t want to waste money on books that i might not use :/

  • 10. Jamie  |  August 23rd, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    @April: I would definitely wait for the syllabus before shelling out the cash for text books. Buying online is a great idea–I like to buy used at Amazon or Half.com–and you should also check with your prof as to whether you can use a previous edition. Sometimes there will be only a few changes, and past editions usually sell for WAYYYYY less than current ones. Another money-saving option–check out your options for renting your books.

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