10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

From Andrea Lirio

With a year of college under my belt, there are a lot of things I wish I had known — from what to pack and what classes to pick to how to make the most of my college experience — before jumping in. As the semester comes to an end, I decided to go around campus and ask my peers what they wish they had known. I hope this helps you as you plan for move-in day!

1. What you need to pack.

Trust me, you don’t need to pack EVERYTHING.

I packed my entire closet before leaving home for college. Through the year, I realized there are certain outfits that I never wear. I would say I wish I didn’t pack so much, but at the same time, sometimes I’ve been grateful that I did end up packing it. Just remember not to take EVERYTHING, especially because you still need to move out. Moving in is the easy part.

“I think for me the biggest thing I didn’t think to bring at first that you definitely need is rain gear! Umbrellas/ boots, rain jackets are super necessary.” – Emily ‘22

“I wish I packed more fans! The summer heat really does a number on you during those first few weeks.” – Alexa ‘22

“Plants, posters, not as many books only pick ones I really love or really want to read.” –Catie ‘22

“Bring earplugs or noise cancelling headphones. A bathrobe is great for getting to and from the showers.” – Sophia M. ‘22

“I wish I knew that college means walking 24/7 from one place to another and packing good winter clothes and jackets are so necessary.” – Shohini S. ‘22

“Bring a mattress topper. It was a miserable few weeks before I got around to buying one.” – Alex K. ‘22

2. What to think about when making your class schedule.

Don’t schedule classes at 8 AM if you can help it. Also, avoid classes on Fridays. They’re the worst.

Classes early in the morning or at the end of the week are the worst. I personally prefer taking classes at an appropriate 9 or 10 AM and leaving only one class for Fridays. You need time to relax and be with friends, so remember that when you’re making your course schedule.

“I wish I knew that college courses could be very writing intensive and to pick them wisely in accordance with each other so that your workload isn’t a lot.” – Shohini S. ‘22

3. Make connections!

Yes, even with upperclass students! They want to be your friend and they serve as great mentors.

Alums, upperclass students, teachers, staff, etc. They all want to get to know you. It is scary at first, but you’ll be amazing. Remember making connections is an important part of the college experience!

“Feel free to talk to LITERALLY anyone on campus! Making new friends seems like a challenge, especially if no one else from your old school is here. There are lots of friendly folks at BMC but sometimes you need to be the one to take the first steps to find them.” – Alexa L. ‘22

“If you’re really concerned about making friends, join an intensive club like fencing or theater, but don’t worry if it takes a while to really find your friends, or if those friends change.” – Sophia M. ‘22

“Don’t force yourself to make friends right away. Most of my friendships didn’t solidify until spring semester. Also, don’t feel bad about eating alone. No one is judging you.” – Alex K. ‘22

“Building relationships across all grade levels is extremely important as well! With upperclassmen by your side, you will see many doors open before you. I wouldn’t have joined some things that I am currently in without seeking advice from upperclassmen or receiving their encouragement. That support along with any relationship you build at Bryn Mawr is something you will truly cherish.” – Dounya R. ‘22

“I wish I knew how willing Bryn Mawr alumane are to help with mentoring and finding opportunities. For connecting in general, I think that the traditions at BMC help freshmen a lot connect with upperclassmen. Also, the fact that our dorms are shared between freshmen and upperclassmen. I remember my HA. She was amazing. I used to always be in her room mostly asking for advice about academics and just chatting about Bryn Mawr in general.” – Lamiaa D. ‘20

4. Meet with your professors.

They’re not scary! Professors are here to help you! That’s their job. Don’t be scared to ask for help when you’re confused or simply go in to talk to them about your interests.

5.  Focus on your health.

You don’t always need to eat ice cream, even if it’s offered every day. It’s tempting, but you’ll regret it. Also, the gym is a great resource on campus. Take some time each week to work out with a friend. Stay healthy by taking time for you and making good eating decisions.

6. Take initiative. 

You want to do it? Do it! Try new things and never turn back. College is the time to explore your interests and try something new. Make time to do things that scare you — participating in class, joining a club, auditioning for the play, meeting with alums, etc.

“I guess one advice would be to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and always challenge yourself to make college worth the 4 years.” – Zaynab Ghazi ‘22

“Something I wish I knew before college would be that failure is okay!” – Aylen P. ‘22

“Make sure that you take the time to explore your interests throughout the year and really take advantage of the liberal arts education you receive at Bryn Mawr. Allow for yourself to grow in your interests and come in with an open mind for growth. The world loves to stay safe by limiting themselves by categories, but don’t put limit on your own self.” – Dounya R. ‘22

7. Do what makes you happy.

There’s no such thing at the “classic college” experience. Be yourself above all else. You’ll see your friends from high school posting what seems to be the “classic college” experience, but you need to remember there’s no such thing. Your college experience is all about you and what you want to do. Don’t feel the need to be like everyone else.

“This is a chance for you to grow as an individual. You might come in with a vision and leave with another. Come in and defy the expectations put on us by society to cling on to a category. You are not defined by a category; you are you and the you will forever be an exploration which college graciously gives you a greater chance to explore. Make the most of your experience and never say you are not experience yet to take on something; go for it!” – Dounya R. ‘22

8. Having a roommate isn’t all that bad.

You and your roommate will be fine. And if you don’t have a roommate, you’ll be fine as well! Don’t stress! Having a roommate isn’t as bad as the movies show. Also, if you get a single your first year, sometimes you’ll feel isolated. Don’t worry! You’ll find your friends. Everything takes time.

“I guess I wish that I had been more aware of the fact that not everyone coming to college is used to sharing spaces with others so you will have to relearn and grow with your roommate(s) about what respecting spaces means to each of you through healthy communication. I also wish that I had known that your first friend group isn’t necessarily your set group of friends and part of college experience is growing and finding new/ more friends, every semester really.” – Rachel A. ‘21

“Communication is key. You might not both become best friends but try to develop a respect for one another. Check in once in a while and just let them know if you’re going to be out or anything.” – Catie B. ‘22

“I would advise incoming frosh to trust the roommate process and not choose a roommate for themselves – either someone they know from high school or from the Facebook groups – it almost always ends badly!” – Rafa K. ‘22

“My advice for incoming freshman would be to take some time in the summer to get to know your roommate before moving in with them, because they will already have a foundation of trust built which will be beneficial for your relationship throughout the year.” – Dounya R. ‘22

9. Self Care.

Remember to take care of yourself! Don’t be scared to ask for help/ support.

Make time for yourself. If you need to talk to someone, visit the counseling center. You don’t need to have a problem to see a counselor. Sometimes it’s just nice to talk. Also, don’t forget to put yourself first always. There will be stressful and difficult times, and it’s important for you to make time for yourself. If you keep chugging, you’ll burnout so take time now to relax and de-stress.

10. Your first year will fly by.

Have fun! The time will go by so fast.

“I wish I knew how quickly my first year would end!” – Tanya Noon ‘22


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