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COLLEGE KNOWLEDGE

by Alex Ashe

Housing

Live in the dorms freshman year. It’s the best way to meet the people you’ll be spending the next few years with. After that, you might want to consider an offcampus apartment — sort of a halfway house between college and the real world.

When you’re in your room, keep your door wide open — drop-ins are a great part of dorm living. If you step out, even for a minute to use the can, lock it up tight.

Avoid the single-sex dorm. All the crazies live there.

Buy a pair of flip-flops. If you knew the kinds of nasty fungi oozing across a public restroom floor you’d never go without them. It is an absolute necessity that you have those handy shower shoes when you move in to the dorm, but you should also remember that you’ll need to wear them on every trip around the dorm, not just when you’re showering.

Sometimes landlords take advantage of college students. Know your rights (fairhousinglaw.org). Get the deal in writing and hold on to your copy.

If you don’t know your roommate, establish a set of ground rules. Learn their pet peeves. Get to know them. College can be hell if you’re stuck with a roommate you don’t get along with.

Money

Most college students are constantly broke. If you have some money in your bank account, spend it wisely. If you are on student aid, take a job in the library; that extra hundred bucks a week will go a long way on a university campus.

If you’re like most traditional college students, you’re pretty broke and willing to do almost anything — within reason — for a few bucks. Do yourself a favor: Get a job, even if it’s just for a few hours a week. In college, an extra $50-$100 goes a long way. And if you work at a restaurant or catering hall, there may be some free food in it for ya.

Credit cards are evil. You will get offered numerous opportunities for lines of credit. Don’t be flattered, and don’t sign up for them. Debt is a serious problem among Americans; remember that the payments you’ll be making will likely last longer than the items you buy.

Get a helping hand. There are more ways to pay for college now than there ever were. CFNC.org lists hundreds of scholarships and grants based on all kinds of criteria. Check it out — you may have some money waiting.

Use your discount. Everything from movie theaters to restaurants to bowling alleys give discounts to students. Don’t lose your student ID.

AmazonPrime is free for students. For a year, you can get free two day shipping on a lot of stuff.

Romance

Amicably break up with your high school girlfriend or boyfriend before you get to school. Long-distance relationships are hard, and can really stunt your ability to adapt to college life.

There’s a double standard. Freshwomen get a lot of dates. Freshmen guys do not. It’s one of the immutable laws of the universe.

Don’t sleep around. Even on big campuses, word will get out and the people you went to college with will remember you as a ho for the rest of your life.

Sleep around. Honestly, you’re probably never going to be around this many available members of the opposite sex in your life, and you’d be a fool not top take advantage of it. But remember moderation and, of course, safety. College campuses are hotbeds for venereal disease.

Dinner dates are nice, but can be costly.

Movies too. Cheap date options include free, on-campus events, art-gallery hops, public parks and live music shows. Even a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag out by the train tracks can be romantic under the right circumstances.

Avoid planning a wedding or having a kid while in college. While this may seem like common knowledge, tons of college students forget it by junior or senior year. You are going to be busy trying to prepare yourself to have a future; you don’t have time to place other things ahead of that. For those who do and succeed, however, we applaud you.

Nightlife

You don’t need to drink to have fun. Give your tender, young liver a break with a trip to the movies, a coffee house or bowling alley.

Know your limits. Sure, drinking is fun, but there’s nothing pleasant about getting your stomach pumped or cleaning up puke in your dorm room with a hangover. Also, every year in the United States about 1,700 college students die drinking-related deaths. Don’t be that guy. Or girl.

Don’t drink and drive or get into a car with an impaired driver. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you — don’t risk it when you can take a cab for a couple bucks.

If you haven’t already, don’t start smoking. One poor decision on a college weekend and 20 years later you’re still standing out in the rain huffing down a butt. Plus, you could use the money for other things.

Dozens of Triad-area bars cater to college-age kids with all-ages shows, college nights and drinks specials for those who are at least 21 years of age.

Fake IDs are illegal. Seriously. Some kind of document fraud. You probably should not get one. But if you must, then don’t skimp — make sure it’s a good one.

Tip your bartender. A dollar every round or two will keep her interested in your business and make you stand out from all the cheap drunks.

Go to house parties; they are a major part of college social life in the Triad, often with themes or live music, and none of those pesky doormen scrutinizing your fake ID.

Be street smart. If you’re walking around the streets, or even campus, particularly late at night, you could be a target. That campus “bubble” feeling can give you a false sense of security, but these are cities, with very real violence and crime. Lock your doors. Don’t walk around alone at night. Keep your head.

Stay home once in a while. Life will go on without you, and it’ll be there when you get back.

Transportation

Learn the lay of the land. Spend your first few days on campus making sure you know the quickest route to get from one class to the next.

Downtown Winston-Salem is a grid. Downtown Greensboro is a strip. Downtown High Point is a ghost town.

Parking sucks at just about every college and university in the country. If you must have a car, suck it up and get a parking pass, which should cost roughly the same equivalent as a semester’s worth of towing charges. And remember that you probably don’t want to be the one freshman in the hall who has a car.

Biking drunk is better than driving, but you can still get busted.

If there’s a free bus available, ride it. Gas isn’t cheap and if there is a free mode of transportation to get you around, take it. These can also be great tools for those long nights out when

you can’t drive yourself home. There’s nothing like a DD you don’t owe a favor to. You can take a PART bus between Greensboro, High Point and Winston- Salem — check partnc.org for schedules and stops. And if you’re in Greensboro, the Higher Education Area Transit — HEAT — bus system gets you all over town for free. Check www.rideheat.com for more information.

Make friends with a truck owner — it will come in handy. And throw in a few bucks for gas.

The college experience

Remember that your education does not end in the classroom — college is about experiencing life, discovering yourself and learning self-sufficiency. And if you’re doing it right, it’s also a lot of fun.

Put yourself out there. Go on outings.

Try a new religious service. Make friends with someone you’d have never met if you weren’t here. Join a club or team. That’s part of what college is all about.

Soak up the free knowledge. There are lectures every semester on every campus that are free or very cheap. Go. You’ll never have another chance like this again, and you might actually learn something.

Lose your ethnocentricity. Find out what a Montagnard is. Befriend a Somali or learn some Spanish. There’s a whole world of culture right here in town, if you know where to look.

Become politicized. Feed the fire in your belly, whether it be for social justice, more tax breaks, foreign policy, student government or whatever. Our nation relies on an educated and active populace to keep the government in line.

Ditch Netflix. Why pay for something to help distract you? Start using your school’s DVD library instead.

Listen to college radio. Stay updated on campus happenings, hear rising local music stars and support your fellow students on the FM dial. A&T has 90.1, UNCG has 103.1, Guilford College has 90.9 and Winston-Salem State is at 90.5. Wake Forest Radio is online at radio.wfu. edu. And unlike a bulk of the airplay on commercial stations, actual humans select the music. What a concept.

It’s inevitable that you will get sick at some point of your college career. Every campus has a health clinic where you can see the doc for “free” (even if you paid for it in your tuition) and that doc will get you fixed up and medicated for next to nothing compared to the local family doctor or emergency room.

Start networking now. The job market is rough out there now so start talking to your  professors and chat up the alumni at football games and see if you can make a connection that could lead to a job in the future. Some schools even offer to help students find internships so make a stop in your career center and see what tools you have at your disposal.

Study abroad if you can – You will probably never again have the time or opportunity to spend four months in some of the places offered by study abroad programs. Do it no matter what.

Work out. You’re gonna have free gym access and a lot of free time. Working out is a great stress reliever and you’ll feel great about getting and staying in shape. Its a nice confidence booster too.

Expect to put on some weight. For me, the Freshman-15 didn’t really apply, but the Junior-30 did.

Take a lot of pictures. If you’re having a good enough time, the may be a lot you forget. You’ll be glad you captured the moment with a photo.

Invest in a low-scale meal plan. Dining halls are convenient and quick, but there’s better food out there.

Know some cooking skills. You’re out on your own, so at some point, you need be able to cook yourself a meal. Better to learn how beforehand than in-the-process. Cooking is an invaluable skill that’ll save you money and likely improve your health.

Shop at the grocery store, not your school market. Even though the school market is convenient, it’s grossly overpriced. It may be a pain in the ass, but head out to the nearest grocery store and load up there instead. Start clipping coupons and save money you couldn’t save on campus.

Question authority. Critical thinking is a big part of a college education. Make up your own mind, and don’t assume that those who make the rules know what they are talking about, or have the best intentions.

This is your best time to develop a sense of identity. It’s something of a fresh start, since, for better or worse, it no longer matters who you were in high school.

Utilize social media, but don’t be afraid to abstain from it. It’s good to have somewhat of a web presence these days, but you shouldn’t let it consume you. Delete your Facebook, and it’ll sadly still be there whenever you want to activate it.

Do new things that you never would have done in high school. Delve outside your comfort zone. Do it because you can and because you’ll never know what you love if you don’t find it.

Head to the library or a computer lab between classes if you’ve got a couple hours to spare and need to work on homework — don’t go to your dorm where all your slack-ass friends are hanging out. They’ll suck you in.

When you’re in a computer lab, you’re going to want to actually be productive because otherwise you’re wasting not only your time, but anyone who’s waiting for a computer to open as well.

Savor the experience. Take a minute each week to reflect about it.

It’s okay to not love college. You often hear that college will be the time of your life, but if it’s not, that’s okay.

College isn’t for everyone. You should have at least an idea of what you want to do in life and be willing to work hard to get there. If you only want to make friends and get inebriated, you could probably do so for much cheaper.

Get involved but not too involved. For incoming freshmen, time management is huge. You can’t fit everything on your plate, but if you manage your time well, you can always make your plate bigger.

Living outside the nest Call your parents once in a while. You’ll be surprised at how nice it is to hear from them once you’re out of the house.

Washing towels and sheets should be done more than once a semester. Crunchy sheets and towels are just wrong. It may be hard to scrape up $2 or $3 in change to wash the big loads but it is a necessity. At least take them home on the weekends and let mom do the dirty work.

Clean out the fridge occasionally. Reminder: Food spoils and molds. You may have never witnessed this while living at home because mom took care of it for you. At college it’s your responsibility to make sure that the bread with green mold on it makes it to the trash.

Classes

Go to class even if there is no attendance policy. It’s an important test of discipline and responsibility. Once you skip a class, you want to do it more often, which can lead to a myriad of setbacks. Basically, skipping class is a lot like smoking meth.

Pad your schedule with a cakewalk class.

Every school has them and your advisor will know which ones they are. An A or two will do wonders for your grade point average.

Don’t stack all your cakewalk classes into one semester. You might make Dean’s List, but you’ll be longing for an easy A in the following semesters.

Manage your time. Pulling all-nighters for term papers will wreak havoc on your social and educational lives. One semester of procrastination is usually enough stress for one person. Get a day-planner and fill it up. It’s a good habit you’ll keep for the rest of your working life.

Time is money. No matter your concept of a buck, college is wickedly expensive. Enjoy it, but get that degree as quick as you can to minimize the damage and keep the debt manageable.

Study in groups — and not with dummies.

Find the smart people in your classes and hook up with them. You’ll get better grades and studying in groups helps you to learn to work as a member of a team.

Most professors won’t admit this, but summer classes are generally easier. And cheaper. Plus, taking them means you actually stand a chance of getting out in four years.

Every college campus in the Triad has tutors or extra help available for students. If you feel like you’re falling behind, get a leg up.

Get an internship. It takes more than just a degree to secure employment, and next to a strong GPA, internships are the best way to build an attractive résumé. You make connections and gain experience in your field, and can often earn credit hour to do so. There are certain internship opportunities that are only afforded to college students, so act on those while you can.

Build personal relationships with your professors. A professor doesn’t need any justification to give you a certain grade. You can have low test scores or a late assignment, but if you show effort and a desire to learn, it can go a long way. They can also provide wise life advice or write you a letter of recommendation for an internship.

Don’t be afraid to change your major in the first couple of years. It’s perfectly normal to have second thoughts. Change your mind while you still can.

Don’t plagiarize. Colleges take this extremely seriously, and it’s never been easier to get caught. It’s a certain F, and some schools will still throw you out for honor-code violations.

Hold on to your notes, textbooks and old tests. You never know when they may come in handy, and even if they don’t, it’s fun to bring them out years later and look back on how pretentious you were.

Get off to a strong start in your freshman year. With each semester, it becomes harder and harder to affect your GPA.

Use foresight in selecting your major. Try to find a career field that you can enjoy and realistically be working in 40 years from now.

If you have to choose between professors, use RateMyProfessor.com, but with some discretion. Some reviews come off as overly entitled, biased and histrionic, but you can still generally get accurate descriptions. Best served with a pinch of salt.

Avoid taking 8 a.m. classes, unless you’re genuinely a morning person. Even though you were up that early for high school, college life is a different beast altogether.

Don’t buy books until after your first class, and look for them online. Some classes list books you don’t even need on their syllabi. Despite the book buyback most campuses offer, you are going to get screwed on your textbook purchases. They are highly overpriced and you won’t use them enough to warrant spending hundreds of dollars. Shop on Amazon and eBay to find those same books at a reasonable price and then you can likely sell it back on the website for around the same price you bought it.

Take advantage of your advisor. Some schools require that you see your advisor in order to sign up for classes but many make it optional after freshman year. Once you’ve decided on your major you need the help of your advisor to guide you through what classes you should be taking and when so you can graduate without any last-minute surprises.

Try to sit in the middle or close to the front of your lectures. Sitting too far back tends to make you less interested in the material, but too close to the front and you’re stuck next to “that guy.”

You don’t need to ask to go to the restroom — just go. You’ll look like quite the high schooler, otherwise.

Don’t hesitate to ask your professor for help. It’s only natural, at the end of a 90-minute class, to want to run for the door, but if you don’t understand part of the curriculum, talk to your professor or try to make use of their office hours.

Try. College is what you make of it. You only get out what you put in.

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