Advice for Recent Graduates

Written By Caroline Havekost, School Community Relations Intern, Learning Resource Center. Caroline studied journalism and mass communication with an emphasis in marketing and business writing, and graduated from Iowa State earlier this May.

With graduation just around the corner it is only fitting for some of the soon-to-be graduates to start thinking more intently about college.  As a recent college graduate myself, I have come to learn and compile a list of things I wish I had known as a college freshman.  I experienced both the small and large school atmospheres, as I transferred during my college career.  I started my freshman year at College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN.  While I enjoyed the year I knew it wasn’t the school for me, and didn’t have the major I wished to study.  With that I transferred to Iowa State University my sophomore year to study journalism and mass communication, and actually just graduated earlier in May.  While not every day of college was happy and wonderful, I learned a lot about myself through some of the tough times.  I ended my senior year so happy with my college experience, and sad for it to end.

I wanted to share some information I learned from college and share it will all of the recent graduates planning on attending college in the fall.

Summer planning

Don’t wait until the very last minute to start buying and packing.  I recommend starting in early July by creating a list of things you know you need.  For example linens, toiletries, bedding, storage bins, etc.  Remember to read through all of the information your residence hall sends you.  Some beds require twin sheets, while others require twin extra long sheets.  Trust me, it makes a difference!  When it comes to storage look at getting tubs that you will be able to slide under a bed.  This way things are hidden, but still easy to access.  It will take at least two trips to the store in order to get everything you need, possibly more.  Consult with friends, or your new roommate, about what they are bringing and needing and compare notes.  I found a lot of good information this way and it can be a great opportunity to get to know your roommate.

Final weeks before moving

Start packing early!  You don’t want to spend the final days scrambling to put things together.  Have a plan to work for an hour or two each day so you don’t overwhelm yourself.  Unload and unwrap all items and put them in their proper storage bin, this way once you arrive at your residence hall you can place your bins and not worry about organizing everything in them.  Also have an idea of how much space you will be given.  Will there be more drawer space or hanging space?  This does matter and should be taken into consideration so you don’t over pack and are forced into sending some of your favorite things home.

Keep a lookout for important emails coming in.  You will be given a college/university email address.  Most schools start sending important dates, times, deadline information, orientation information, etc. during the summer time.  While email may not have been the number one thing you checked during high school, it will be in college.  In fact I found myself checking my email more than I checked social media in a day.  Email is the way your new school will communicate with you.

The 10 Random Things You Need to Know

  1. Wash your towels.  If you buy new towels you need to wash them in order for them to absorb water.
  2. Communicate with your roommate(s).  Split up some of the bigger items so one person is not responsible for bringing it all.
  3. Buy flip-flops JUST for the shower.  You never know, and you will be happy you did so.
  4. Does your residence hall have an elevator?  You’d be surprised some don’t, or if they do they only have one.
  5. Do you need to bring your winter coat right away?  It all depends on where you are going to school, and if you will have time to make it home before the first snowfall.  Thankfully I brought my winter coat when I moved in my freshman year to a small school in Minnesota.  I ended up needing it earlier than I thought; the first frost was at the end of September.
  6. If your college/university has a transportation system learn it!  However, don’t rely on it too heavily.  I went to a large state school and never used the bus to or from class.  Sometimes your own two feet can be faster than the big bus.
  7. If you are looking to save money on books check out some of the online book stores and websites to see if they have what you need.  Your professor should list what book(s) are required for your course on the class schedule or class description.  You can save some money and in my experience it takes less than week to get them to you.  Make sure to buy the book(s) that are required.  You will need them, and they will come in handy.
  8. Write your name on the movies or television shows you bring.  If someone asks to borrow it you want to have proof that it is yours.  I know too many people that have leant out dozens of DVDs and never saw them again.
  9. Buy a flash drive, and use it.  There will be one time or another in college where you save something and then some glitch happens and you will never see it again.  Don’t get in the habit of only saving it all once.  You will save time and the flash drives are less than $20 and can be used throughout your entire college career.
  10. Last, and most importantly, don’t forget that being nervous, along with excited is completely normal.  Everyone is a little nervous about moving and going to college, and if someone tells you they aren’t, just wait because either they are not telling you the truth or they haven’t realized they are nervous yet.  Change is hard, but trust me it is worth it.  Leave your door propped open the first few days or weeks of class so people can stop by and say hello.  In all honesty my roommate and I kept our door open every day of first semester freshman year.  In fact, I met one of my closest friends that way.

Final Advice

Remember to ask questions.  Most colleges and universities send out information packets full of information, and they are also available during the summer to answer questions.  Give them a call about specifics, they expect you to have questions and will have the answers you need.

Whether you are attending a small or large school, in state or out-of-state remember to enjoy your time there and take advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way.  Whether it is studying abroad, joining the Greek community, playing intramural or club sports, or starting a new organization or event, have a wonderful time and enjoy your journey.