Tag Archives: freshman year

Don’t Judge a (Face)book By Its Cover

Welcome to the first of the Myths of Residence Life Series! This post was actually written BEFORE the idea for the series came about…but I realized it fit so well! Incoming students have the ability to see YEARS of their future classmates’ lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else social media platform that’s out there.

So I might be dating myself here, but I was in college when Facebook became open to everybody. I didn’t think too much of it. The only change for me was now I could be Facebook friends with my friends that were still in high school (I mean, I wasn’t that old).

And then housing assignments were released…I was working at my good ol’ Undergrad U student employment job. I was told that typically we get slightly more phone calls after assignments go out. People are unhappy with what building they are in or what floor they are on. Somebody’s precious darling has allergies and needs air conditioning. Typical calls. The calls started coming that very day and did not stop until the school year started. My supervisor said that she had NEVER heard the phones ring that much.

Why the incredible increase in calls? Students could now look up their roommates on Facebook. That was something I honestly never thought of. Yes, Facebook existed before I left for college, but my roommate didn’t (and still doesn’t) have Facebook. For the friends I did make on Facebook, all of our profiles were NEW. While this was only the first year, that’s still a whole year’s worth of photos. We’re currently several years past this point so now my incoming students are seeing photos of their future roommate’s high school career. Ugh…I couldn’t imagine having those awkward years documented on the internet.

The point is, so many students were making assumptions about their future roommates based on what they saw on Facebook. People use their Facebooks (and before that MySpaces) to display who they want the world to view them as. Back when all these phone calls were flooding in, people didn’t think about privacy settings on their pictures or censor themselves just in case a future employer might stumble across their profiles one day. Some students were calling to complain that they didn’t want to live with their future roommates because all they saw on Facebook were party pics or offensive jokes. Others were calling because their roommate seemed “lame” or “different”. It is impossible to describe what a person is like based off of what you see on Facebook.

While my roommate and I didn’t have the anxiety-laden opportunity of stalking each other on Facebook prior to moving in together, I wonder what a stranger would think of me based off of my Facebook profile. I have my profile set to super secret, so the stranger would have to request me first but that’s beside the point.

First off, we have my cover photo and profile picture. These tend to be absolutely ridiculous. In fact, when I first arrived at college, my Facebook picture was one of my comics. Oops. Right now my current cover photo is a close up of my favorite food and my profile picture is actually a poorly photoshopped photo of one of my friends. So at the moment random stranger would probably think I’m a fat man (not that my friend is fat…just the food and all).

Next, my “about” info. My main network is Hogwarts and my relationship status lists me as being in a relationship with one of my lady friends. My quotes and “info paragraph” haven’t been changed since 2008 and are just a listing of inside jokes. The only musicians I like are my friends bands or singing groups. I don’t have any books, movies, or TV shows listed, but at the moment Facebook is recommending kids books and movies…

And last but not least, photos of me. Since that’s where 99% of my students complaints come from. There are a LOT of pictures of me with my friends’ pets. Not too many party pics…but several photo bomb pictures. And lots of sorority pictures. Of course. Sorority squat!

I don’t think any of that accurately describes me. I don’t use Facebook to list every like and dislike and chronicle every moment of my day. Sorority pictures are in there a lot because those are a lot of the big events I go to…and that’s where the cameras are. At the same time, when I think about students “cleaning up” their Facebooks before they begin their job searches (or before applying for college housing), I don’t think the “after” version of their profiles represent them either.

It’s been a few years since I heard from those angry parents at Undergrad U. I’m still hearing from angry parents. They’re checking out their kid’s roommate’s Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “He tweeted rap lyrics, my son doesn’t like rap, MY SON CAN’T LIVE WITH HIM!” I wish I was making this up. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ve started telling parents that we will not change a room assignment just based on something they saw on Facebook. The whole idea of college is to figure out how to live on your own. If there are major issues or lifestyle differences that cannot be worked out once the students have arrived at school and given it the ol’ college try (pun intended), then we will look into finding your precious anti-rap darling a new place to live.

Student affairs professionals of the world…what are some of your most bizarre “well I saw it on the internet” moments you’ve experienced?

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How to Not Be THAT Freshman

Note: I originally posted this last September. After walking around campus today, I realized that it still applied. 2017, enjoy!

Everybody eventually looks back on their first year of college and says to themselves, “was I really that clueless/naive/dumb/etc ?!?!” I started asking myself that about halfway through freshman year. I’ve thought long and hard about what makes freshmen so…freshmen-y and have compiled a list of tips for you.

Look down.

Are you wearing a lanyard with your key/ID/meal card around it? Take it off. Right now. That’s how everybody knows you’re a freshman. At one institution where we used our IDs to enter our buildings, I carried mine in my back pocket. There were only a few instances of leaving it in yesterday’s pants. A lot of schools use some type of proximity sensor so you have to just wave something as you walk by. Figure out what works best for you, but seriously, take the lanyard off your neck. You don’t want to be THAT freshman wearing a lanyard.

Look to your left. Now to your right.

How many people are you walking around campus/your new city with? Is it more than four? Stop, stop right there. I know that they say “safety in numbers” but you’re going to the extreme. You know that awesome party you’re about to go to? Well, it just got busted because a neighbor saw twenty five freshmen walking up to the door. Walk in small groups so you stay safe but don’t anger the neighbors. Also, if you’re coming home from a party, it’s much easier to see if you’re missing a person out of a group of four than forty. You don’t want to be THAT freshman wandering campus in a herd.

Got Questions?

Contrary to what some professors and teachers say, there are dumb questions. There are certain people provided to you early in your freshman year to answer many of your dumb questions. These are your orientation leaders and RAs. But after a certain point, Google is your friend. Need to contact the Health Center? Search for “(your school’s name) Health Center”. Tada! In class, if you have a question that only relates to you (“Can I miss a quiz because my brother’s wedding is that weekend?”) ask the professor at the end of class or during office hours. You don’t want to be THAT freshman asking dumb questions in the last five minutes of class.

Know Your Limits

In college, you can have too much of a good thing. Just because your dining hall is all-you-can-eat doesn’t mean you need to eat it all. Put down the brownie. Grab a piece of fruit every so often. You don’t want to be THAT fat freshman. For alcohol, take it easy. Yes, you probably will have at least one night you regret, but you don’t want to be THAT freshman that throws up all over the communal bathroom during orientation. As for sex, wrap it before you tap it. No glove, no love. However you want to say it, USE PROTECTION. Susie Q might look at pure and innocent but you do not know what sort of Fifty Shades of Promiscuity she might be into. Likewise, Susie, make sure you’re on birth control. You don’t want to be THAT pregnant/STD-carrying freshman.

Don’t Panic

A lot of what I said probably just made college seem like the most terrifying (or most wonderful) place on earth. Everybody will be stressed out or nervous or scared at some point in their college career. You might go from being be THE valedictorian of your class into a freshman class where there are many other valedictorians. Congratulations, you are now average. You might get a bad grade. You might sleep through a class. You might be sitting here reading the above realizing you are THAT freshman. Stop. Take a deep breath. Don’t have a meltdown in the middle of the hallway. You will survive. You don’t want to be THAT crying freshman.

Congratulations, Class of 2017, for making it this far. Good luck with classes and don’t try too hard.

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Throwback Thursday – Something New

I’m not a fan of change. As old and dinosaur-like as my laptop is, I refuse to get a new one because that means I’d have to change all the settings and move all my files and it’s just a hassle. I know, I know, total first world problem.

I have this bad habit of hating the first year of anything. First year of middle school? I missed recess. I wanted to go back to elementary school. First year of high school? Despised. First year of college? Loathed.

Many students are excited to start fresh when they arrive at college. Not me. I kept my EXACT routine even though my earliest class was HOURS later than when my high school started. And of course, to make sure I wasn’t exhausted for my early morning alarm, I went to sleep early. Like, 9:30. Because that’s when I went to sleep in high school. And luckily since Undergrad U is full of weirdos, my roommate never thought twice about my early bedtime. However, a few weeks into the school year, I realized I was missing out. All the fun things were happening after 10 pm!! Finally, my friends dragged me out of bed one night. Okay, friends might be a longshot. They were people from my floor that were friends with my roommate that basically didn’t believe I existed because I was always asleep. One night they literally dragged me out of bed and brought me to Walmart at midnight…while I was wearing my pajamas. At first I was embarrassed  but then “People of Walmart” became a thing and I realized that I was not the worst dressed shopper.

Since I hated new things and change and all that jazz, I refused to try the food our city was famous for. I’m a picky eater. Eating too much of foods I like can make me sick to my stomach. Also, it seemed gross. I didn’t understand everybody’s obsession. It looks terrible, smells terrible, and probably contains more calories than all of McDonald’s menu eaten in one sitting.

And then two days before graduation, I tried it…and it was amazing. I suddenly understood everybody’s obsession. I was actually upset that I hadn’t tried it before. And then it got me thinking of all the things I wish I had done sooner in college. I wish I had made friends sooner. Joined clubs sooner. Had fun sooner.

College is a great time to try new things and I think everybody could benefit from leaving their comfort zone a bit, but that does not mean you need to succumb to peer pressure and disregard your values. Peer pressure is bad. In “I Am Charlotte Simmons“, Charlotte’s friend Laurie says that college is a time to experiment. Try new foods. Go to different types of art exhibits. Go see “Vagina Monologues” because I’m sure you wouldn’t have gone to a showing of that in high school. Some people want to experiment sexually or with alcohol or drugs. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Whatever you choose to do, please be safe. And try not to do anything illegal.

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This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for several things. I’m thankful that I have a job. I’m thankful my parents took my dog in when said job said I could not bring her with me. And I’m thankful it’s break time and my students are LEAVING. Finally…a few days where I don’t have to pace around the laundry room waiting for a dryer to become available.

But then I almost feel bad for the freshman who are making their first trip home from college. I remember mine. I missed home so bad. I couldn’t wait to be home for A WHOLE WEEK. And then once I got there, I could not wait to leave. I actually made up some lie about a project I had to do and said I could ONLY do it in the studio.

The whole week felt a little like this.

So just like there are stages of grief and stages in student development theories, I have decided that there are stages of vacation time at home. While this is geared more towards students, I think some if it (with a few tweaks here and there) still applies to twentysomethings/adults.

Stage One – Excitement

You probably haven’t even left for home yet. You are counting down the days until break. You’re excited to sleep in your room and eat some home cooked meals and hang out with your friends and sleep in and do nothing all week. This week is gonna be great. You love home. Home home home.

Stage Two – Suddenly Everything Has Changed

You get home and run up to your room to put your things down when suddenly…what are all those boxes doing in the corner? And is that dad’s bill paying desk? And why are there no pillows on your bed?! Whatever, it’s only 7 pm, you’ll deal with that later. You go back downstairs, excited to see what’s for dinner and your parents tell you that they’re going out to dinner. But but but…you wanted mom’s lasagna, not Olive Garden. You cave and decide it’s worth it for the bread sticks. While are dinner with your family (BO-RING!) you text your friends to see what they’re all doing tonight. “Can’t, busy with the fam!” seems to be the standard reply. Okay, okay, you’ll have a boring night in (maybe spend some time searching for pillows) and see your friends after you wake up at like 2 pm and have pancakes.

Stage Three – You Want to Kill EVERYTHING

WHAT IS THAT BLINDING LIGHT? Oh, just your mom flipping on the lights because she needs something in one of those boxes RIGHT NOW. What time is it? Oh, you know, 8 am. And what’s that noise outside? Is that the leaf blower? Come on dad, couldn’t that wait until a reasonable hour? Your mom promises that you can go back to sleep as she tiptoes out of your room but then the next thing you hear is the vacuum. So much for sleep.

Stage Four – One is the Loneliest Number

Your friends are nowhere to be found. Foursquare informs you that they all are over town…at the movies, the mall, grocery shopping…with their boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, and parents. By the way, where is your family? Your parents went to the grocery store without you. I know, how could they, that could have been a social outing! Your siblings still have friends and live in your hometown since you know they still go to school here. Looks like it’s just you and the internet.

Stage Five – Family Time!

Remember that family that you missed in stage four? Well you don’t need to worry about that anymore because now they’re all home and guess what? So are twenty of their relatives! That’s right, it’s time for Thanksgiving dinner. Now you have to spend the next six hours pretending that you love every single minute of college and are really working hard for that education your Citibank loans are paying for.

Stage Six – Now They Want Things

Ahhh…the relatives are gone and you have two days left of break. NOW you’ll be able to see your friends and relax. No, no, that’s not happening. You need to clean up after Thanksgiving and while you’re at it, take some of that crap from your room to the basement, your parents need more room for storage. And what do you mean you want to hang out with your friends? There’s only two days left of break, you need to spend more time for your family. Right now you’re probably about to scream…

Stage Seven – GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

You can’t stand it anymore. You wonder if it’s possible to sneak out and hitch a ride back to school. Are any of your friends leaving tonight? You can’t possibly wait until morning. You better pack your bags in case it gets to be too much to handle and you need to leave in the middle of the night.

Stage Eight – Homecoming

You finally get back to college and you’re thisclose to dropping to your knees and kissing your uncarpeted dorm floor. As you unpack, your roommate gets back and starts raving about how terrible her Thanksgiving was. You are not alone.

It almost feels a little something like this.

So fear not college students, you have a few more weeks of college living until…Winter Break.

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TBT: That Time I Went On A Blind Date

One day during my freshman year, I noticed an advertisement for a dance. Being a freshman, I thought that a school dance was a big deal and everybody and their mother would be in attendance. Eventually somebody clued me in that these things didn’t happen, but for some reason I became very focused on the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend. This led to me and my roommate doing two things.

The first thing we did was to create a flyer stating that I was looking for a man and hung it all over campus. Now, we’re not idiots, so we didn’t actually say who I was or anything and we made a fake email address. I’m pretty sure the only response it got was my college’s resident creepy kid.

The second thing we did was Facebook stalk the entire male undergraduate population of our college. This was back in Facebook’s infant days and for some reason this seemed like a totally acceptable way to find a date. We started looking at friends of friends and it just went out from there. Eventually, I found this kid that I thought was cute and decided to friend him or message him or poke him or something. I don’t exactly remember. The important thing is, this led to us hanging out.

I think eighteen-year-old-me believed this was a date. I remember getting ready for it. I can even remember the shirt I chose to wear. Girls that I really didn’t hang out with came over to help me get ready and came and waited with me in the lobby. I don’t know exactly what happened on the date…I think I went to this kid’s house and met his roommates and we ate food and watched MTVu. Looking back, I wonder how that conversation went…”Hey guys, so this girl messaged me on Facebook and she’s coming over tonight.” I hung out with this kid a few more times and became friends with his group of friends. I still talk to a few of them every so often even though things fizzled out.

The ironic thing about this whole story is, I would NEVER be that confident now. I know some of my friends are signing themselves up for online dating sites and the premise basically sounds the same as mine and my roommate’s stalking and messaging, but I could not imagine myself going on a date with a person based off of that.

I know that there are many things that we did as college students that we no longer do, but what is something that you are honestly surprised that college-you did?

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Throwback Thursday – Why I Didn’t Transfer

With a title like “College Forever” it probably sounds like I never wanted to leave college, right? Well, that’s true to some extent. At graduation, I felt like a preschool that clings to her mother’s leg. “NO MOM, NOT THE REAL WORLD! DON’T MAKE ME!” Yeah it wasn’t pretty.

But I also did the same thing GOING to college. I HATE change. I was all gung-ho about college and making new friends and decorating my room until I actually got into college. But then I had a few more months to get excited again. And I did a decent job. Buying new things? Awesome. Packing? No problem. The trip there? Wonderful…until we were about an hour away from my school. That is when I started regretting every decision I had ever made in my life up until that moment.

It gets better, right? No. It didn’t get better. I called my mom every day during orientation saying I wanted to transfer to the school I had sworn up and down I would never attend because of it’s proximity to my parent’s home and the amount of my graduating class that was going there. Outside of classes, I wasn’t involved in anything. I spent so much time talking to my home friends on AIM that I didn’t make any new friends. What was worse, my classes were MUCH harder than I expected them to be. For the first time in my life, there were kids that were…shhhh…smarter…than me in my classes. After the initial hysteria and threatening to transfer home, I started to seriously consider changing majors and transferring to a school that had better offerings for me.

Finally, in the winter, there was one night that started me on the path to liking my college of choice. A friend invited me over for a karaoke night. I barely knew the other people he had invited, but I had so much fun just hanging out and taking turns singing and singing as a group. It was the first time I can remember being happy at my school – five whole months after I had arrived! Later, I told my friend that it reminded me of the cast parties we used to have after the shows in high school. He asked why I wasn’t involved in the theater or music programs that our college offered. I didn’t even know that those things existed!

I finally had figured out what had been missing. I had been in some sort of music program from kindergarten until I graduated high school. As a senior looking into colleges, I didn’t think it was something that I would miss. Once I joined different organizations, I finally had some time to enjoy myself. I also made friends with people that I am still friends with to this day!

Recently, I took the time to thank that friend that invited me over for karaoke. I don’t think he ever realized how much that one gesture changed my life. We didn’t hang out much after freshman year – lived in different buildings, did different things. I was glad I was able to reach out to him. My life could have turned out so different had I transferred. And then what would you be reading right now?

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