Leaving for college had always been a dream of mine when I was younger. I always wondered where a plane would take me when I finally decided on my future college destination. Now that I am here at Howard University in Washington D.C., some of my preconceived notions have come true and others, not so much. I am slowly getting adjusted to how college works, and with that, I have learned an abundance of new things. With that being said, here are 15 tips and tricks I have acquired through my experiences as a freshman in college!

1. You have a lot of free time. This is something that a lot of people know but a lot of people might not. Your schedule is a lot more relaxed than it is in high school.

    2. Your professors are not going to hunt you down for missing work. In some of my classes I have more than 100 classmates; it’s virtually impossible for a professor to have enough time to hunt you down for something you should have turned in, so try to stay on top of all of your assignments!
    3. Stay organized. This is something I am still working on. It is so important because since you have so much freedom and your professors don’t baby you, you need to know when your assignments are due. Stay organized to make your academic life easier to navigate.
    4. Explore your individual fashion sense. Here at Howard, there is an array of styles here in terms of clothing and hair. In high school, some schools have a dress code –mine definitely did— but in college, no one determines what you wear but yourself. College is a good time to figure out what you like to wear and what you are confident in rocking.
    5. Surround yourself by a good group of people. College is a place in which individuals from all over the world come to learn, or do anything other than learn. You have to make the decision to surround yourself by people who are dedicated to their own academics and your well-being.
    6. Don’t confine yourself to only being friends with individuals who share similar experiences to you. Here at Howard, I have seen people clique up solely based on the fact that they came from the same city. I feel as if you are putting yourself into a box by doing that. Meet people with different experiences and expose yourself to new things. That’s what college is for.
    7. Don’t bring all of your clothes. Trust me. You don’t need them all at once. Ship what you need from home as the seasons change.
    8. Appreciate a free meal when you get it. If you go to a restaurant and someone else pays for your meal and you get too excited and order something more than you can handle for that one sitting, GET A TO-GO BOX. Food is not as easy to obtain in college, I’m telling you.
    9. Take advantage of office hours. Get to know your professors. If you need something by the end of the semester, you have a better chance of having lenient graders because they’ve gotten to know who you are.
    10. Drink a lot of water. You will be walking to classes. Some are far away. Sometimes their are hills. Nuff said.
    11. Call your family. They miss you. You may not realize it, but taking 20 minutes out of your day to talk to you family will make them so happy. I personally aim to call home once a week.
    12. Explore the city you are living in. I still have yet to do this and I regret to inform you all of that. Don’t get stuck in your college bubble.
    13. Don’t come into college expecting a relationship. Some guys are not looking to commit so early on so just keep that in mind.
    14. Ramen noodles will become your best friend. As an avid ramen lover, I’m not complaining about this one.
    5. Have a lit time! You only have one freshman year. Be safe because alcohol and drugs are not a myth. Live it up and good luck!