• 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 off-campus 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.
• Write your name in indelible marker on everything you own, even your drawers. Take inventory often and keep your eye on your stuff, especially when the most expensive things you own are also the smallest.
• Your roommate doesn’t necessarily have to be your best friend. If you become best friends after freshman year, get other roomies — sometimes friendships don’t survive in close quarters.
• Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Both on and off campus housing in the Triad have seen their share of bedbugs in recent years, and while the bite doesn’t particularly hurt, the red dots they’ll leave can be embarrassing. Lately, according to WXII, the little buggers have been found at Wake Forest University.
• When doing your laundry, separate the whites from the colors. Carefully. Believe it or not, it is possible to turn your entire wardrobe pink with the inclusion of one brand new pair of red socks in the warm cycle.
• Clean out the mini-fridge. This is a nobrainer for some, but we’ve seen some pretty grotesque formations on bread in college dorms. Not only does stale food need to be tossed, but scrub down the inside of the fridge itself periodically.
• Do rat on the jerk who pulls the fire alarm at 4 a.m. They will be repeat offenders
• Avoid the single sex dorm. All the crazies live there.
• Watch out for the roommate who labels food items with a Sharpie. Sooner or later you will inadvertently piss them off in some other way.
• Use protection… in the shower. If you knew the kinds of nasty fungi oozing across a public restroom floor you’d never go without at least a pair of flip-flops.
• 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.
• If you’re sweated all summer to get a nut together for the coming school year, budget it wisely, calculating your start-up expenses like textbooks, school supplies and gadgetry up front while leaving a stash for a rainy day. Don’t be the person who blows an entire summer’s worth of savings before Halloween hits.
• 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; and 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.
• Recycle wardrobes by buying your clothes at thrift stores. Your parents will hate it.
• Use your discount. Everything from movie theaters to restaurants to bowling alleys give discounts to students. Don’t lose your student ID.
• Break up with your high school girlfriend or boyfriend before you get to school. Long-distance relationships don’t work. Trust us.
• The ugly truth: Boys lie. Girls too.
• 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.
• Don’t date a roommate or someone who lives on your hall. It’s kind of like dating your sister or brother.
• 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.
• 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. Check the pages of YES! Weekly to find one near you.
• 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.
• 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 probably use the money for other things.
• 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.
• Join a fraternity or sorority for the fast track to a social life, with loads of scheduled events and established party/romance connections that have been fostered over generations.
• Or be what is known as a GDI, and navigate your own way through the complex social scene.
• Go see your friend’s band. Or better yet, start one yourself.
• 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.
• 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.
• Get a bike. With lights. And a lock.
• Biking drunk is better than driving, but you can still get busted.
• You can take a PART bus between Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem for $2.40 — check www.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.
• Downtown Winston-Salem is a grid. Downtown Greensboro is a strip. Downtown High Point is a ghost town.
• 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. This year alone, Guilford College’s Bryan Lecture Series features former British Prime Minster Tony Blair, CNN correspondents Sanjay Gupta and Fareed Zakaria and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.
• Lose your ethnocentricity. Go to a black church or a white country club. 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.
• Listen to college radio. Get the 411 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.
• Ditch the dining hall. No matter where you go to school, there are great food options near campus and beyond. We have great soul food, Mexican, Southeast Asian, deli and pub food in every corner of every city. And North Carolina is known for barbecue: chopped or pulled pork on a soft bun with slaw. Get you some.
• 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.
• 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.
• Go to class. You’re paying for it — you might want to get your money’s worth. And like Woody Allen says, 90 percent of everything is just showing up. Going to class gives you a feel for your professor and the material you’re expected to absorb in a way that borrowed class notes do not. Plus you get to ask questions. • Skip class — once in a while. Sometimes life experience trumps classroom learning, and after a couple weeks you’ll know which classes you can safely dodge and which you should never miss.
• Stack you semester with a couple cakewalk classes. 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.
• 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 PDA or a day-planner — and fill it up. It’s a good habit you’ll keep for the rest of your working life.
• 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 change 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… or two or three or four. Internships may be a bit degrading to someone like yourself who surely knows all there is to know, but they are the fast track to gaining experience in your field and possible gateways to employment after graduation.
‘·• Don’t plagiarize. It’s easier than ever to cut and paste your way through Wikipedia for a term paper, and it’s easier than ever 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 dog them out years later and look back on how pretentious you were.