At this point in the admissions world, the class of 2017 is getting to know each other (hooray social media!) and the class of 2018 is starting to look into colleges that they might possibly someday have a slight interest in maybe potentially considering applying to. Regardless, both groups have a question in common: what will college be like? I’m going to attempt to answer the questions in the “25 Things I Want to Know Before Starting College” Thought Catalogue article. Whether you are moving into your dorm in a few months or you are just starting your search, I hope I can calm your nerves about college life (at least at Tufts).
1. Will there be actual kitchens where I can cook things? Will I have a working oven I can use to bake cakes, or will my idealistic 1950s-housewife ways be beaten out of me by a lack of working technology?
Regardless of what dorm you live in, there will be a kitchen. Some kitchens are better than others, but you will have access to an oven, sink, etc. During spring finals of my freshman year, a friend and I took advantage of the newly renovated kitchen in my dorm to bake cookies for my hall. Best. Decision. Ever.
2. Who do I ask if I don’t know how things work? Is there a manual provided or do I have to work it out myself?
There are approximately 3 gazillion manuals passed out to you during orientation. Some focus on academics, while others focus on safety or Tufts traditions. Orientation is basically a big party, but it also puts you in contact with Deans, RAs, Orientation Leaders, academic advisors, and just about anyone else you would need to get help. By the end of orientation, you’ll probably have a good sense of how things work, but if not, one of the people you have met will be able to help you out.
3. How do you even do the laundry? What if I don’t understand the washing machine and accidentally flood the launderette with soap suds?
Does anyone want to define launderette for me? I’m going off context clues here. The RAs post signs everywhere with instructions on how to do your laundry. When in doubt, recruit a hallmate (who knows how to do laundry) to help you out the first couple of times. If the thought of doing laundry makes you break out in hives, Tufts Student Resources will do your laundry (and fold it) for you with their door-to-door service. Relax, your clothes will get cleaned somehow.
4. Is it worth taking a toolbox in case things break? If so, does this mean I have to ask my dad for DIY lessons?
Just try to resist the urge to break things in the event that you find yourself stressed out or something. You’ll be fine. (Note: there is a hardware shop right off campus if you find yourself in need of it, but people usually just buy paint for the cannon there.)
5. How much am I going to change as a person? What if I look back at myself at 18 in four years’ time and hate everything I stand for now? Can I deal with that?
Honestly, I can’t say how much you will change. That is something that varies on an individual basis. By best advice here is that you should pick a school where you like the older students who go there. Worst comes to worst, you’ll change and become more similar to people you already looked up to.
6. Does the reputation you garner in your first day/week/term last forever? Or, if I turn up for Freshers’ Week with my hair dyed purple, will I forever be known as “That Cool/Emo/Hipster/Weird Girl With Purple Hair”, even if I change it a month later?
First of all, I doubt that your hair color will cause people to label you as “weird.” During Orientation, everyone is nervous and excited to make friends. Don’t worry about your reputation or trying to fit in. People probably won’t remember exactly how you acted or what you looked like that first week anyways. You do you.
7. If university entails more work than the final year of school, how do people manage to go to classes AND go to societies AND do the extra reading AND have go out three times a week? I want to know the secret. Is it MDMA?
I get asked this a lot. The secret is keeping a detailed schedule (I like to keep mine color coded) and paying attention to syllabi. That’s basically it.
8. Will people offer me drugs? Will I get judged on whether I accept/reject them? What if I smoke weed one time and end up rocking back and forth in the fetal position, my brain consumed by paranoia (which is totally the sort of thing which would happen to goody-two-shoes like me who has never even been near an illegal substance before)? What then?
Personally, I don’t drink alcohol or do illegal drugs. Some people do, and that is their choice. It has been my experience that once you tell people that you aren’t interested, they accept your decision and go one being your friend without judgment. My friends respect my choice and still make sure I don’t feel left out or anything.
9. Is it bad that I kind of resent the fact people from school are going to the same university as me? I just wanted to get away and have a new start and boom, old acquaintances everywhere. Is it rude if I just kind of… ignore them?
There are about 1,300 freshman in any given class year and 5,000 undergrads overall. You’ll be in contact with enough new people to start over if that is what you want to do.
10. What do I do if my dorm room has damp?
11. If I join lots of extra-curricular activities, will my grades suffer?
That depends. Are you keeping a color-coded schedule like I suggested? Know your limits, but don’t avoid extracurriculars for the sake of your grades. Honestly, first semester is all about figuring out the balance between work and fun.
12. If I join too many extra-curricular activities, can I quit some without people being weird and resenting me for it?