Going away to college isn’t always the party everyone says it will be, especially your freshman year (and double-especially if you’re a nerd). Having a plan of action is definitely in your best interest, and anyone can use these simple guidelines to get the best first-year college experience possible. Just think of me as your Fairy Nerd-Mother.
Academics: Depending on the major course of study, nerds can often find themselves over-scheduled. In 1994, my private college, still on the quarter system, had a maximum credit load of 18 but music majors were required to take four additional classes–lessons, recitals, ensembles, band or choir–for zero credit. Art and theater students? You’ll have to book rehearsal or studio time and will likely have outside performances or openings to attend in addition to all your other classes. Keep this in mind when you register each term, the last thing you want is to run yourself ragged (and it will irk you even more when you see your non-nerd compatriots waltzing around every weekend with absolutely nothing but free time).
It also pays to schedule according to your circadian rhythm; don’t book yourself an eight o’clock class if your Minecraft obligations keep you up until 4 a.m. Likewise, don’t take a night class if you have film or television engagements. Also, in terms of general ed classes, keep in mind that the smaller ones are more difficult to ditch, as professors seem to notice empty chairs easier (not that you would do that, of course).
Dorm Life: Chances are you’ll have met your roommate prior to moving in, but don’t be fooled: living with someone is a big step. You don’t just get your roommate, but anyone else who happens to spend time with her. Figure out early if it’s a good fit, and if it isn’t, talk to your Residential Adviser, who may well be a nerd like you. Be polite, be accepting of others’ non-nerd lifestyles, and treat everyone how you’d like to be treated, but don’t stay in a miserable living situation.
Also, stay healthy. Eat well, take the stairs when you can, and remember your vitamins! No one wants to get sick in school, and keeping active helps with mental clarity and keeps homesickness away.
Social Rules: To drink or not to drink? Figure out a philosophy and stick to it. If you decide to hit a few parties, never ingest anything from anyone you don’t know, and don’t let any of your nerd friends do it, either. Always have a ride home or a way out, and if you don’t like being out of control, skip it.
If you stay true to yourself and fill your days with things you enjoy, college will be amazing. Live your nerd life, find others like you, and the rest will fall into place.